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Reisman's ringing manifesto for laissez-faire capitalism free of all government intervention is at once a conservative polemic and a monumental treatise, brimming with original theories. that is remarkable for its depth, scope and rigorous argument. He rejects the Keynesian doctrine that government must adopt a policy of budget deficits to cope with unemployment, contending, to the contrary, that federal intervention in the economic system is a root cause of inflation, credit expansion, depression and mass unemployment. Reisman staunchly defends capitalists as risk-takers who raise the average worker's real wages and living standards, increasing productivity and improving the quantity and quality of goods. Socialism, he says, is the system that exploits labor and causes stifling monopolistic control. Professor of economics at L.A.'s Pepperdine University, Reisman frequently espouses unfashionable, some would say "extreme," views; for instance, he opposes mandatory recycling, defends insider trading of stocks as justifiable and beneficial and condemns laws banning child labor as an "inappropriate" response to a social ill. His call for a pro-capitalist political movement dedicated to the abolition of the welfare state, elimination of Social Security and Medicare, dismantling of public education, private ownership of all land, abolition of personal and corporate income taxes and a 90% cutback in government spending seems to put this tome beyond the pale of mainstream political debate?although it does come with advance raves from two Nobel laureates in economics. Conservative Book Club and Laissez Faire Book Club selection. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"An expositon and defense of capitalism on a par with those of Mises and Hayek ." -- The Free Radical, June/July 1997
"Capitalism is . . . what a consistent, intelligent advocate of capitalism would say on almost any economic issue." -- FORTUNE, April 28, 1997
"Provides a comprehensive explanation of the nature and value of modern capitalism." -- Journal of Economic Literature, June 1998
"The most important tome about Austrian economics since Ludwig von Mises' Human Action and Murray Rothbard's Man, Economy, and State." -- 1997 Foundation for Economic Education Book Catalogue
Capitalism, which appeared in 1998, is the life work of George Reisman, an economist unfortunately hardly known, who teaches at a private American university. This work can rightly lay claim to being one of the most comprehensive and intelligent defenses of capitalism that has ever been written. In over 1,000 closely printed pages, Prof. Reisman not only deals with all conceivable economic subjects, but places special value on demonstrating the errors of anti-capitalistic doctrines - from Marx, to Keynes, to the environmental movement. His foundation is, on the one side, the Austrian school, above all von Mises, with whom he studied, and, on the other side, the Objectivism of Ayn Rand, with whom Reisman was also acquainted and - together with Rothbard - debated. On this foundation he places a crystal clear, convincing structure of thought; in its totality a stirring plea for Laissez-Faire capitalism as the only system that is consistent with the nature of man and a free society. Rothbard and Reisman, incidentally, seem to have become estranged after their studies together. While in the case of Rothbard, to my knowledge, Reisman is never mentioned, Reisman in Capitalism shows Rothbard among others to have accepted the fundamental tenet of the Marxian exploitation theory, namely, that in reality the workers are the producers of goods. If Reisman deals with Rothbard this way, then one must not be surprised when he deals with the real anti-capitalists in such a devastating way that only tatters remain. All this without ever becoming abusive or polemical, for he is concerned with ideas, not persons. Drawing the conclusion that only irrational dolts could hold the erroneous doctrines just refuted is always left to the reader. And, indeed, I admit it, not a few chapters made me ashamed.Read more ›
I agree with all the praise that has been lavished on GeorgeReisman's Capitalism. I actually think this is the greatesttreatise on economics of all time, greater even than The Wealth of Nations or Human Action. An achievement of this kind is always an integrated whole. But if I were to single out one insight as the greatest one, it would be the "primacy of profits" principle, the insight that wages are a deduction from profits, not vice versa. This lays the ground for the most thorough and fundamental refutation of the Marxist exploitation theory that is possible; it also lays the ground for what actually constitutes economy-wide profit (the "net consumption" theory of profits) and the actual relationships between profits, wages and investment, and for many other things as well. To make a comparison, I think this discovery ranks with Adam Smith's original discovery of the principle of division of labor, or the early Austrians' discovery of marginal utility. I sincerely hope that this principle gets thoroughly understood by economists in the future. Some other highlights I could mention merely because they have not been mentioned by the other reviewers: The demonstration that the rise in the average standard of living rests entirely on lower prices for goods and services (a fact which is merely obscured by the presence of inflation). Understanding the extent of the gulf between a precapitalist, non-division of labor society and a modern division of labor society. (E.g.: understanding why a rise in population would be a threat in the former kind of society, but a source of great benefit in the latter kind.Read more ›
The review is by David R. Henderson, research fellow at the Hoover Institution, and is titled THE LATEST CAPITALIST MANIFESTO. It appears in the issue of April 28, 1997, on p. 62. What follows is the verbatim text of the review, with paragraph breaks indicated by a pair of brackets.
EVERY SO OFTEN A BOOK IS PUBLISHED that commands attention for its scope, ambition, and physical size. Capitalism (Jameson Books, $95.00), by Pepperdine University economist George Reisman, is such a book: It's an exhaustive survey and an impassioned manifesto, and is the size and weight of the phone book of an extremely large city. As Reisman writes on page 61 (out of 1,046): "The remainder of this book can be summarized as demonstrating a single proposition: In every possible way, with no valid objection, the solution for the economic problem is capitalism." Reisman backs up his claim. He shows, among other things, why capitalism is necessary to end poverty, mass unemployment, and environmental destruction.
Much of what Reisman covers will be familiar to students of economics, but CAPITALISM covers some of the more standard economic topics--the chaos caused by socialism, productivity as the source of large fortunes in a capitalist society, price controls--in a fresh and clever way.
Take price controls. Economically literate readers know that price controls, by holding prices below free-market levels, often create shortages. Reisman goes further, presenting at least three insights about the harm done by price controls.
First, many observers noted the apparently arbitrary distribution of gasoline due to price controls in the 197Os. In some areas of the country, people lined up for blocks to get gasoline; in others lines were very short.Read more ›
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