by Maire McKay
This book was written by Yanis Varoufakis for his 14 year old daughter.
He is currently Professor of Economics at the University of Athens. If I were given a book on economics, I think I would put it aside as being too boring a subject, but the author actually makes the subject interesting, by illustrating throughout with stories from Greek tales, science fiction, Faust, Blade Runner, The Grapes of Wrath, Matrix, Frankenstein and more. He considers that everyone should know about economics, and explains to his daughter that he became an economist because the economy is too important to be left to ‘the experts’.
He begins with the history of economics, how it began when people took up farming, which produced surplus food. (Hunter- gatherers never had a surplus, their collected food being perishable and eaten immediately.) The ability to store surplus eventually led to credit, the state, bureaucracy, organised religion, concentrated resources in the hands of a few, then writing, debts, money, states, technologies and armies.
The author explains the situation and how economics works, without using accepted but often ill-understood words like credit, capital, debt, slumps and recovery. He also shows why we are always being encouraged to spend (the market economy could not flourish if we didn’t). He also relates this to our connection wth the destruction of the environment.
He then asks if private and planetary interests can be wedded and says:
‘Today, if we are to have any chance of saving the planet and ourselves, we must find ingenious ways to reactivate humanity’s appreciation for experiential values that no market can even recognise, let alone respect.’
He finishes by offering suggestions and possible solutions.
I would heartily recommend this book, especially for Feasta members, but also for the wider public.
Details: originally in Greek, translated by Varoufakis and Jacob Moe.
Publisher: in Greek, Patakis Publishers, 2013; in English: The Bodley Head, London 2017. ISBN hardback, 9781847924445, paperback, 9781847924421. Obtainable from www.penguin.co.uk/vintage
Feasta member Maire McKay’s bio: ‘We came to Ireland from Scotland in 1976, having lived in Skye, Fair Isle, Cheshire, Argentina. We’ve been ‘green living’ for years, interested in the ecology and living lightly on the planet, have no car these 25 years, are vegetarian, support umpteen enterprises like Feasta, Amnesty, Friends of the Earth , Green party, etc. We have 3 sons, Ruairi in Bavaria, Conall in Aberdeen, Scotland, and Somhairle, here with us.‘
Featured image: https://www.freeimages.com/photo/graph-1-1477514
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