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Systems of Survival: A Dialogue on the Moral Foundations of Commerce and Politics Paperback – January 13, 1994
Based on seven years of reporting from over a dozen countries, writer Tom Wainwright takes you on an extraordinary journey into the business of being a drug lord. Learn more.
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
- Kent Worcester, Social Science Research Council, New York
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The commercial class lives by production and exchange, primarily by means of honest, binding contracts and voluntary agreements, and where initiative, inventiveness and efficiency are prized, along with industriousness, thrift and investment.
The guardian class is prevalent in governments, benevolent trusts, charity organizations, universities and schools, military and police. They shun trading and exchange, and live by taking, in the form of taxes and donations, and sometimes expropriation. They are dispensers of the good things, in the form of grants and largesse. Guardians issue commands and expect them obeyed, with courage if necessary, which they in turn are subject to themselves, for a hierarchical command structure is honored. And they use force and deception where necessary to accomplish objectives.
The greatest sin, and the cause of all corruption, according to Ms. Jacobs, is when the two systems are merged in one organization. I have read several books on ethics, but this is the first that points out that there are two systems in operation in society. And it explains so much that has been a puzzle for me. For example, we are taught to tell the truth, as in the commercial system of ethics, yet a government will lie in the interests of the state, and a general will try to deceive the enemy, and both expect to be applauded for that. This can be explained only by the distinct systems of morality that guide the guardian class and commercial classes.
The two systems explain the characteristics of nations too.Read more ›
Jacobs resolves the apparent conflict by showing that it is no conflict at all but really the interworking of two disjoint moralities that must function interdependently to allow our society to flourish.
Our society functions to interfere with the liberty of its inhabitants as little as possible and yet it can restrict the freedom of malefactors and even sentence them to long terms of imprisonment. Jacob's identifies this as the interworking of the commercial and guardian syndromes of morality. These moralities are contradictory - what is a vice in one is a virtue in the other. And yet we need them both. The commercial syndrome abjures force and encourages voluntary agreement. This is the syndrome that characterises interpersonal interaction within our society. It is desirable and yet it is incomplete. Its success requires the confidence of all particpants that the principles of the syndrome. This is provided by the guardian syndrome which is based on coercion and strict adherence to fixed rules.
Jacobs shows how these sysndromes must be kept separate in society for just as initiayive and industry are virtues in the commercial syndrome they are vices in the guardian syndrome. Simliarly the guardian sysndrome requires largesse but the commercial requires invenstment and efficiency.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a second copy I buy.
The first got lost in my library.
Platonic dialogues very interesting.
Those who believe in dualities, and those that don't.
Very hearty food for thought. I am a little surprised that I don't see folks making the connection between the... Read more
I read everything Jane Jacobs wrote, she was a wonderful author and considerable thinker, no longer with us sad to say as she died in the early 80s.Published 14 months ago by cebepe
Astounding book. Let's take an example from the first few chapters.
Is it right or wrong to lie? Of course, it's wrong -- honesty is an obvious moral ideal. Read more
Speaking as guardian who has spent his life as a commercial I found this book very enlightening. It's a brilliant exposition of the tensions between the two systems and the way... Read morePublished 23 months ago by Baraniecki Mark Stuart
Jane Jacobs was one of the most original and profound thinkers of the last hundred years, with the ability to prove conventional thought wrong on many subjects. Read morePublished on October 2, 2013 by Howard L. Brady
The book is presented as a fictional debate between the characters as they sort through human value systems. Read morePublished on June 1, 2013 by Stephen Walli
Awesome discussion about the need for balance between government (the guardians) and commerce. Well researched and documented, conveyed in conversational style. I loved it.Published on August 16, 2011 by Ken Deshaies