From Publishers Weekly
Purportedly an alarming account of the "commoditization of natural resources and of life itself," this volume is actually something tamera comprehensive guide to the worlds major commodities, from diamonds and human beings to the skies and oceans. Ridgeway, a staff writer for the Village Voice, professes horror that a small number of corporations would ever seek to form cartels and exploit the fundamental necessities of life (even though he notes in his introduction and elsewhere that this has always been the case) and observes that things are getting worse. Maybe. It is disturbing to read that, after World War I, America and Britain created a joint venture known as the Iraq Petroleum Company and that "with modernized industry Iraq could produce quantities of oil sufficient to rival Saudi Arabia." Still, Ridgeway doesnt balance his accounts of cartels and exploitation with an examination of the economic forces that drive commoditization, the advantages of economic development for developing countries or the process of economic evolution. Worse, Ridgeway discusses only problems, not solutions. The book is organized commodity by commodity. Ridgeway gives a brief, and sometimes fascinating, description of the usefulness and history of each substance, its exploitation by the few and its inevitable depletion. But he stops short of suggesting any wise or fair methods of allocating resources, and this omission seems to suggest that corrupt markets are inevitable. Perhaps Ridgeways largest failing is his tacit suggestion that commoditization is necessarily evil. Things have an economic as well as a spiritual existence, and the recognition of their market value is a useful, and necessary, first step in determining their true price.
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“James Ridgeway is one of our most astute and bold social critics, and in this book he puts his sharp pen to use in making us aware of how so many things in the world, including human beings themselves, are being turned into something for profit. It is a needed wake-up call, and I hope it will startle us into resisting the commodification of our world.”—Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States
“James Ridgeway’s It’s All for Sale is a wake-up call to the human community of the consequences of an economic system whose appetites for raw material is limitless, and in which there are no limits, no boundaries about what is a commodity and what is not. The privatization and enclosure of biodiversity, of water, of air and the trade in human beings and human organs are indicators that we could be witnessing an end of being human. Essential reading for the ecology movement, the justice movement, the peace movement, and all who believe ‘Our world is not for sale.’”—Vandana Shiva, founder of the Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology in New Delhi, India
“There are few matters more important than the one James Ridgeway addresses in this essential book: the commodification of natural resources and of life itself. From water to kidneys to human beings, there is little the modern corporation hasn’t figured out how to turn to private profit. Read this book before it’s too late.”—Sam Smith, editor of the Progressive Review and author of Why Bother? Getting a Life in a Locked-down Land