Review: Bad Samaritans–The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism

5 Star, Capitalism (Good & Bad), Empire, Sorrows, Hubris, Blowback

Bad SamaritansSpeaking truth to power, helpful revisionism, February 22, 2008

Ha-Joon Chang

While other books (linked below) have focused on the evils done in our name, this is the first book I have seen that dissects economic history in order to demonstrate the hypocrisy of the current regime that bullies lesser developed countries with the IMF-WTO-World Bank interlocking conditionalities.

The author comes down solidly in favor of protectionism, foreign investment controls, state-owned enterprises, avoidance of privatization, not allowing patents to clash with the public interest, the need to defy the marketplace and respect the role of manufacturing, and the influence of culture (and changing the culture through government direction).

This is a nuanced book that trashes the neo-liberals while speaking truth to power. On any given prescrption, the author will say “it depends” and avoid leaning to one extreme over another.

He touches on democracy as not necessarily good for developement, and corruption not necessarily bad.

Other books that I respect as much as this one:
The Bottom Billion: Why the Poorest Countries are Failing and What Can Be Done About It
The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
Manufacture of Evil: Ethics, Evolution, and the Industrial System
Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism
The Pathology of Power – A Challenge to Human Freedom and Safety
Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People

See also my varied lists.

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