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The Cancer Stage of Capitalism [Paperback]

by John McMurtry
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1, 1999 0745313477 978-0745313474
In this bold look at the uncontrolled spread of global capitalism, John McMurtry, professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph, develops the metaphor of modern capitalism as a cancer. Its invasive growth, he argues, threatens to break down our society's immune system and--if not soon restrained--could reverse all the progress that has been made toward social equity and stability. John McMurtry traces the causes of this global disorder back to the mutating assumptions of market theory that now govern the world's economy. He diagnoses the malaise as a pathologist would a biological cancer, tracking the delinked circuits of the global system's monetised growth as a carcinogenic disorder at the social level of life-organization. In the wide-lensed tradition of Adam Smith, Marx and Keynes, McMurtry cuts across academic disciplines and boundaries to penetrate the inner logic of the system's problems. Far from pessimistic, he argues that the way out of the global crisis is to be found in an evolving substructure of history which provides a common ground of resolution across ethnic and national divisions.

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The Cancer Stage of Capitalism + Value Wars: The Global Market Versus the Life Economy + Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market as an Ethical System
Price for all three: $94.00

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Editorial Reviews


‘To compare capitalism with a disease such as cancer is a difficult task, but McMurtry does just this with a thought provoking analysis that should be embraced.’ --Spectre
"The cancer stage of capitalism is not a metaphor. It is a rigorous description of where we are." --Susan George

About the Author

John McMurtry is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. His articles in philosophy, economics and politics have been published across the world, and his analyses of transnational trade and investment treaties are internationally known. His recent books include Unequal Freedoms: The Global Market as an Ethical System (1998). He is the author of the forthcoming Value Wars (Pluto Press 2002)

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745313477
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745313474
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,983,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
55 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Question: What's the difference between Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, George Bush ... and Jack Kevorkian?
Answer: Those receiving death treatments aren't asked first. And one could add - the dying is not painless. Homelessness, poverty, pain, misery, and preventable sickness come first, and all in the name of 'market freedom.'
"The Cancer Stage of Capitalism" by Professor John McMurtry, Department of Philosophy, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, covers the history of "value programs" as well as the disciplinary methods which can either presuppose or expose them. (By a "value program" McMurtry means a locked set of unexamined principles which select against evidence which refutes it.) It is an anti-dote to the affectations of 'disciplinolatry,' and the global market wisdoms to which we are daily exposed. As a thoroughly knowledgeable examination of the economic and political determinants of the world system it provides a clear dissection of the root problems, causes and consequences for the world of globalization and neo-conservative policy. Its arguments are thorougly documented. (See also the companion: McMurtry, John, "The Global Market as an Ethical System," Toronto: Garamond, and Westport Connecticut: Kurmarian, 1998).
With a diagnostic kit-bag and an argument that is impossible to refute, this book is ideal for social consciousness raising! All those concerned with strengthening and maintaining their communities, (more generally their respective 'civil commons'), and with how to practically come to grips with the economic constitutions (e.g.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A welcome modern-day heretic speaks the truth April 13, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In an earlier age, religious authorities denied that the earth could revolve around the sun because this basic truth conflicted with and ultimately threatened the ruling power's value system. Today, the exalted prophets of the so-called "free market" refuse to acknowledge capitalism's destructive impacts to the environment and human health and welfare by claiming that its ill effects are external to the profit imperative and are consequently of little or no concern.
In this insightful book, author John McMurty challenges the conventional wisdom. By comparing unregulated global capitalism with the uncontrolled growth of a malignant tumor, McMurty alerts us to the "life" and "death" sequences of money investment that today's market champions are unable to see.
The growth imperative has always meant that capital must find new opportunities to grow in order to sustain itself. But the author suggests that we have entered a post-Marxist era because capital investments have been almost completely de-linked from any trace of productive investment. The modern capitalist imperative is simply to create more money for idle investors by any means possible.
This growth is often enabled by predation on the publicly-held resources that the author argues represents real value, thereby diminishing the community's ability to sustain itself in the long run. Forests are clear-cut; public utilities are privatized; social programs are gutted; and so on. The net result is that the quality of life for the vast majority of the world's citizens has declined.
On the other hand, the "death sequences" of armaments, tobacco, oil, chemical, and other dangerous products reward investors with high rates of return.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How they ignore the global illness harbingers ... October 12, 2005
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, does not hesitate to compare the capitalism with a cancerous ulcer. The greed conducts the processes of the capital accumulations -- and will not lead to sensible, ethically acceptable investments, but causes a dying of the planet like a tumor can start the fall of a human body. There are to show a lot of short-sightedness -- from the seabed up to the ozone layer, from weapons trade to waste of fuel and medicine by few ruthless nations. To ignore these matters is similar, indeed, like ignoring growing tumors and hoping with optimism, that there never will be any need of consulting a doctor. More and more money for useless investors is demanded by capital owners, unfortunately, a mentality of "predation" would not come into disrepute at all. However, this is the effort which makes McMurtry to himself with his publications: understanding the global markets and resources as an ethical task. So McMurtry interprets some famines caused by U.S. economy sanctions -- in Cuba, Somalia, Iraq or North Korea. A hoarding of resources (to be called almost lecherously) by only few privileged ones infuriates in principle the Canadian philosopher. He stands up vehemently for an ethic, which does not consider only humane justice, but also a sudden close-out sale of our planet. In an earlier age religious authorities denied that the earth revolves around the sun, nowadays management groups steered by lobbyists deny that an economic egoism is a depressing illness. Economy policy as in a egocentric, blind rage could tip over sometime and come fast to a precipice unpleasantly. Dying by the way is not painless. The global illness harbingers are homelessness, poverty, crime, terrorism, refugee misery (from Mexico to Morocco). The morphine of not to mention it -- is like ignoring hospital, if it is needed.
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