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A Humane Economy: The Social Framework of the Free Market Hardcover – October 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 3rd edition (October 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882926242
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882926244
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #635,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"...This book is an excellent starting point for the noneconomist reader who wishes to cut through all the jargon and formulas to understand the moral underpinnings of the free market and what must be done to preserve it." -- First Things, February 1999

"...[T]his book is recommended with enthusiasm." -- Touchstone

"A Humane Economy is like a seminar on integral freedom conducted by a professor of uncommon brilliance." -- The Wall Street Journal

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: German

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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By R. Setliff on June 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
~A Humane Economy~ is an astute treatise and insightful look at the social and political framework of the market economy. Wilhelm Röpke is a brilliant German-born economic, social and political thinker, and perhaps my favorite amongst the so called "Austrian school." He stands apart from his colleagues in that he thinks on a more humane level rejecting crude utilitarian calculations in favor of sound and prudent empirical reasoning. This brilliant German economist of the "Austrian school" stood up to the centralising and dehumanising policies of the Nazis. Röpke recognised that collectivist ideologies lay waste to civil society-destroying the intermediary institutions between individual and state. When the State acts to supplant the natural civil associations with state institutions to empower and enhance the state, it destroys the moral fabric of communities, saps the nation's economic vitality and usually leads to twin perils of centralisation and atomisation. Röpke recognized that allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand is the most humane system and as such he was champion of the market economy. He was influential over German economist Ludwig Erhard, who architected the Federal Republic of Germany's postwar economic plan, which emphasized free enterprise while effectively curtailing state controls (i.e. price fixing, rationing, and state enterprises.)

Röpke would attest that mammon is not the measure of all things. In Röpke's eyes, the intangibles-that is to say faith, family and tradition-are the things that animate life and give it meaning. Röpke recognised the limitations of the market economy. Röpke possessed a remarkable sense of prudence and conservative sobriety in his thinking as it relates to the political economy.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Brent Robbins on December 20, 1999
Format: Hardcover
If you want a bracing look at how society should run, pick up this book. Ropke, a German who resisted Hitler during WWII and was an architect of Germany's post-war economic resurgance, writes beautifully about the value of the market economy, and about the need to undergird this economy with strong social and political institutions.
A chief value of the book is that it was first written back in 1960, and is therefore outside of the current, rather small, debate. Although some of his topics seem a little dated (communism chief among them), the underlying battle is timeless and this book is well-worth the read.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Greg Nyquist VINE VOICE on May 4, 2001
Format: Hardcover
One of the great errors prevalent in economics is the assumption that an economy is a kind of endogenous entity which can be understood entirely on its own terms, without reference to social, political, and psychological factors. This error is especially prevalent among those ideologues who believe that, while politics affects economics, economics never affects politics. But this is clearly not how things stand in social reality. Politics and economics exist within a complex web of causal interdependence. No attempt to impose through politics a specific brand of economics can ever hope to be successful, since waves of causation from the economic realm will ricochet back into the political realm, thus altering the original economic program.
The political right, especially in its libertarian and pro-market incarnations, has never properly understood this insight into social reality. In their polemic economic tracts, they implicitly assume that "society" or the "government" could choose at any time to adopt any economic principle it liked, regardless of the likely social or political consequences of that principle. Libertarians tend to support any economy policy which they believe will bring about greater freedom and efficiency, ignoring all the while the disastrous consequences the policy might have in the political and social realms. The great merit of Wilhelm Roepke's "Humane Economy" is that he sedulously avoids this error. Roepke is one of the few pro-market who understands that the free market does not exist in vacuo and that the market cannot be defended as a good-in-itself. In the "Humane Economy," Roepke points out that free enterprise depends on sociological, moral, and cultural factors for its maintenance and survival.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mark Edward De Forrest on March 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A solid overview of both the ethical principles that undergird capitalism and the necessary moral limits to free market thinking. Well worth a read by those who both disdain capitalism and those who are committed to it.
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7 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Miguel on July 21, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Guillermo Röpke, que nace casi con el siglo XX, es uno de los representantes más acreditados del verdadero pensamiento económico, reconciliado con la reflexión ética y política. Lejos de él la tajante separación entre la economía y la política instituida por los representantes del neoliberalismo economicista. Röpke, amigo de Alexander Rüstow, cuya obra también conocía en profundidad, constituye en ejemplo superior de la manera de pensar en órdenes concretos ("Ordnungsdenken"). Ello explica, justamente, la importancia del libro cuya traducción al inglés registra el título "A Humane Economy", y cuya traducción al español, mucho más fiel al título alemán, se rotuló "Más allá de la oferta y la demanda". En efecto, ese título resume perfectamente la intención del autor, pues Röpke consideraba que la economía de mercado no lo es todo. En su opinión, esta necesita ser sostenida por un recio entramado de creencias y valores. En este sentido, resulta insólito descubrir la preocupación social de Röpke en una profesión, la de economista, demasiado preocupada por las grandes categorías científicas.
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