The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy

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9781584659617: The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy

Our planet is finite. Our political and economic systems were designed for an infinite planet. These difficult truths anchor the perceptive analysis offered in The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy. With wit, energy, and a lucid prose style, Eric Zencey identifies the key elements of “infinite planet” thinking that underlie our economics and our politics—and shows how they must change. Zencey’s title evokes F. A. Hayek, who argued that any attempt to set overall limits to free markets—any attempt at centralized planning—is “the road to serfdom.” But Hayek’s argument works only if the planet is infinite. If Hayek is right that planning and democracy are irreducibly in conflict, Zencey argues, then on a finite planet, “free markets operated on infinite planet principles are just the other road to serfdom.”

The alternative is ecological economics, an emergent field that accepts limits to what humans can accomplish economically on a finite planet. Zencey explains this new school of thought and applies it to current political and economic concerns: the financial collapse, terrorism, population growth, hunger, the energy and oil industry’s social control, and the deeply rooted dissatisfactions felt by conservative “values” voters who have been encouraged to see smaller government and freer markets as the universal antidote. What emerges is a coherent vision, a progressive and hopeful alternative to neoconservative economic and political theory—a foundation for an economy that meets the needs of the 99% and just might help save civilization from ecological and political collapse.

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About the Author:

ERIC ZENCEY is the author of Panama, a critically acclaimed and bestselling novel, and a collection of essays, Virgin Forest: Meditations on History, Ecology, and Culture.

Review:

“Eric Zencey brings a healthful shot of lucidity to the long-suffering, much-abused, reality-averse realm of economics. Real adults in a fully functional society have to know how things really work. This book gets around all the gaming, trickery, and wishful thinking to the fundamental question of how we might continue the practical project of remaining civilized.” (James Howard Kunstler, author of Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation and The Long Emergency: Surviving the End of Oil, Climate Change, and Other Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-First Century)

“What happens to the ‘free market’―and to people who depend upon markets for their survival―when essential resources are depleted, or when weather becomes so weird that crops won’t grow? Zencey reveals the failure of conventional economics in our dawning age of limits, then points the way toward a new economics that can better serve human needs while also maintaining a living planet. This should be required reading in every economics class.” (Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow, Post Carbon Institute, and author of The End of Growth)

“A remarkably interesting antidote to the glib and unthinking cult of deregulation that has left both the physical and social fabric of our planet in tatters.” (Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet)

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