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Beyond the Book

‘The Predator State’ Review

Galbraith does a masterful job of educating us in some illuminating ways. Though the book starts a little slowly, the reader who stays with it will be richly rewarded. If we are to assert our mutual control over our economic system, we must first become much more knowledgeable about how it works. Most of us (including a shocking number of politicians and business people) are blithely ignorant in these matters. As Galbraith compellingly argues, our system of democratic capitalism is not, even in principle, a “free market,” for example. Rather, our economics and politics emerge from the clashing (often) or cooperating (occasionally) of interest groups who mostly seek to manipulate our larger society in pursuit of their own narrow goals. Worst of all, these interest groups concoct “ideologies” (belief systems) justifying their actions – dressing up what otherwise would be transparently naked self-interest. “Free-market capitalism” is one of these ideologies. This belief system is like fundamentalist religion, serving the common interests of its elite adherents with no need for facts or empirical support. From this bracing perspective, Galbraith gives us an insider’s tour of how our economic system came to its present, grossly distorted state. No one who is looking to reclaim control of our financial system in the interests of all of us should miss this potent book. All activities (financial or otherwise) not monitored and managed by the people for the people through regulation are predicted to become predatory on the people. And they have.

Reviewed by Paul M. Bingham and Joanne Souza
Coauthors of “Death from a Distance and the Birth of a Humane Universe”

The Predator State:
How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too

James Galbraith
Free Press (2008)

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