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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read every word
It isn't often that I find myself reading an entire book, or taking notes on every page, but that's how intriguing I found Jerry Muller's easy-to-read and profound new book. I am an admirer of his previous work, Adam Smith in His Time and Ours, which I cited several times in my own history, "The Making of Modern Economics." But this book outperforms all previous...
Published on January 6, 2003 by MARK SKOUSEN,

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30 of 46 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Counterpoint to All the Ideological Acclaim
Perhaps this book deserves better than my two stars indicate, but I am attempting to balance the ideological accounts. Whenever you see a solid blaze of stars for a book touching on political economy you can be sure you're in the presence of neoconservative ideology, and such appears to be the case here. At least, I detect neocon hues, not knowing anything else about the...
Published on August 10, 2010 by Nelson Alexander


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60 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I read every word, January 6, 2003
By 
MARK SKOUSEN, (IRVINGTON, NEW YORK United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought (Hardcover)
It isn't often that I find myself reading an entire book, or taking notes on every page, but that's how intriguing I found Jerry Muller's easy-to-read and profound new book. I am an admirer of his previous work, Adam Smith in His Time and Ours, which I cited several times in my own history, "The Making of Modern Economics." But this book outperforms all previous efforts. It is essentially an historical commentary on the long-standing debate over the cultural effects of capitalism, a debate between the advocates (Voltaire, Adam Smith, Burke, Hegel, Weber, Schumpeter, and Hayek) and the critics (Rousseau, Marx, Arnold, Sombart, Lukacs, Keynes, and Marcuse). I learned a great deal, especially Voltaire's fraudulent business practices, Burke's long fight against the East India Company, Hegel's surprising defense of individualism and the market, the brilliant insights of Georg Simmel, Schumpeter's subtle subterfuge of intellectuals, and Muller's extensive coverage of anti-semitism and capitalism. (One surprising omission is Veblen, whose cultural criticisms of capitalism are well-known, but frankly, it is refreshing to read a book without a reference to the conspicuous Veblen). I won't give away author's perspective on this never-ending debate, but one can only be awe-struck by Muller's achievement.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars some of "the best that had been thought and said in the world", June 4, 2008
This is a remarkable book. Besides the usual variety that appears in most books on economic thought (Smith, Marx, Keynes, Hayek, Schumpeter) it includes a nice selection of non-economists such as Voltaire, Burke and Marcuse. Muller is a master of situating intellectuals in their respective context and presenting them in lively detail. Having read Voltaire's "Candide", it was remarkable to find out about his personal adventures with financial speculation. When dealing with Smith, Muller takes pains to retain all the nuances, such as Smith's claim that division of labor, no matter how productive, could make human beings "as stupid and ignorant as it possible for a human creature to become". As Muller is a specialist on conservative thought, his treatment of a variety of criticisms of the market by conservatives is very intriguing. Furthermore, although chapters are written in a way to make them independent of each other, Muller links them nicely using common themes and referring back to already discussed, older ideas. One of such themes is the identification of capitalism with Jews. One might find it surprising how old and often recurring this identification was in European thought.

My main qualm regards Muller's treatment of the left. Although all of the selections are understandable (Marx is a must, Lukacs is representative of 20th century communism and easy to juxtapose with Freyer, while Marcuse is representative of the New Left), large strands of interesting left-wing thought are omitted. Karl Polanyi who wrote the classic about the industrial revolution and the nature of the market ("The Great Transformation") and who seems like a perfect addition to such a book is only mentioned in one of the hundreds of footnotes. Anarchists seem non-existent. The reader might walk away with the feeling that the only things the left has to offer are nagging and central-planning. In the meantime, Hayek and Schumpeter - classical liberals with overlapping ideas (e.g. the role of the entrepreneur) are both given separate chapters. On an unrelated note, some might find the treatment of Keynes inadequate as well. In the first page of the Keynes/Marcuse chapter, Muller states that "[Keynes] provided an economic rationale for governments to try to actively combat unemployment by raising the level of government spending" (p. 317). You will hear the same reductionism in an intro to macro college course, but Keynes' insights were way more nuanced (the role of uncertainty - see: Duncan Foley's "Adam's Falalcy"; the need for a fundamentally different monetary policy - see: Allan Meltzer's and Geoff Tily's work) and often cannot be described as "Keynesian" (or rather, what came to be viewed as "Keynesian").

Despite these flaws, this is a very well-written, insightful and stimulating book. If you are interested in the history of economic thought and more broadly - the different attitudes toward the market economy, make sure to check it out.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The course you always wanted to take, March 9, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought (Hardcover)
THE MIND AND THE MARKET is a compulsively readable history of economic thought which deserves to be a best-seller. I am not an economist or a political philosopher but rather a writer about the arts and culture, and I am devouring this book. The chapters on Hegel, Marx, and Matthew Arnold are each alone worth the price of admission. Muller carries his erudition lightly, and his prose has the calm, effortless, sparkling lucidity of a great teacher lecturing in his prime.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite simply amazing, April 28, 2003
By 
This review is from: The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought (Hardcover)
This is not a book I would have read six months ago since I am typically not very interested in economics or political theory. But a required class in modern political economy helped change my outlook and introduced me to what thinkers such as Adam Smith actually said, which is quite different from what libertarians claim today. Muller's book fed my new found interest and then some.
Muller examines how some of western civilization's greatest minds have thought about capitalism and the market. He includes thinkers that are both traditionally viewed as economists (Smith, Hayek, Schumpeter) and others not usually identified with economics (Burke, Voltaire, and Arnold). Each chapter provides an excellant summary of these thinkers and can be read alone or out of order if one wishes. One has to admire Muller for his objectivity, he studies the individuals according to their own terms and doesn't seek to judge them. Every theorist has identifiable faults and Muller points these out without bias. My personal favorite chapters were those on Smith, Hayek and Matthew Arnold.
My only (minor) criticism is that I thought Muller could have dealt with Keynes in more detail. I feel he short-changed the man who in many ways defined much of the mid-20th century. I also thought a chapter on Amartya Sen might have been interesting, but it makes since to pick those theorists who are dead since their work can't develop any futher.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Economic, Political, Social, and Cultural Tapestry, March 2, 2003
By 
fred stahl (Arlington, VA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought (Hardcover)
Capitalism is the world's most powerful idea about political, economic and moral relationships between people, enterprises and the state. It has brought immense opulence to hundreds of millions of people and hope for economic liberation to hundreds of millions more. But capitalism is not just a way of doing business. No culture nor any state can harness capitalism with a management school curriculum. Capitalism is a complex tapestry of economic arrangements, governmental obligations, cultural traditions, personal behavioral norms, concepts for production enterprises, methods of management, public acceptance of investment, encourage of competition, religious and ethnic tolerance and ideas of personal property. It is a historical fact that secular states with individual economic liberty and free markets harvest the most from capitalism. Capitalism is not just economics.
Capitalism, as a global culture that defines our modern civilization, is therefore too important to be left to the economists. Jerry Z. Muller, a historian, has given us a book which in its sweep and breadth is up to the task of giving us a deeply thoughtful and insightful analysis of the evolution of capitalism's political, economic, social, ethical and psychological threads from early European thinking through the big intellectual ideas of the late Twentieth Century. He tells the story of the idea of the market, as it is formed and transformed by the great socio-politico-economic intellectuals - Voltaire, Adam Smith, Burke, Hegel, Marx, Simmell, Schumpeter, Keynes, Marcuse, Hayek, and others. As a historian, Muller interprets each man in the context of his time and culture. Muller's analysis is even handed, one of the great virtues of the book. There are thousands of political economy books, each with its own agenda if not unground axe. For me, The Mind and the Market is a level-headed guide through that thicket of thought. Muller coolly lays out the case for each ideology and clinically assesses its successes and failures, giving the devil his due, even if that devil is Marx, who while foisting the evil idea of collectivism upon the world did have empathy and voice for the terrible treatment of workers under early capitalism. Muller's trip through the minds of the great thinkers gives us the insights we need to understand how today?s manic anti-competition forces diminish our personal wealth and how governments with moral agendas weaken capitalism.
Even while Muller brings us tidal historical and economic insights, he also salts this book with one liners and anecdotes that illustrate the anatomy of capitalism. Here are a couple I liked.
- "Cultures that favor equality in poverty over greater but unequally distributed affluence tend to be less market oriented." Muller
- From Schumpeter: "The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for the queen but in bringing them within reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort."
- Burke voicing the dilemma of capitalism: "It is hard to persuade us that everything that is got by another is not taken from ourselves."
- Fascists and socialists exploit resentment of those who succeed under market systems. Muller relates how Hungarian communists took control in 1919. The Hungarian Soviet nationalized private enterprises, made wages uniform and guaranteed employment. Labor discipline and productivity declined steeply. The communist experiment failed after 133 days. I gather from subsequent world events that no one was paying attention.
The Mind and the Market should be read by every world citizen to understand how we got the flow of wealth we enjoy and the roles of the state, individual liberty and market competition necessary to sustain our affluence. Capitalism is fragile. It does not come automatically with democracy. US capitalism is buffeted daily by well funded or popular pleas for the state to intervene in the market. They come under banners of anti-globalism, criticisms of the World Trade Organization, preserving the American family farm, special tax breaks to lower costs of domestic producers, Buy American Act, requirements for domestic content, special tariffs, quotas or restrictions on foreign-made products, protection against exporting jobs, closed shops, sustaining the American manufacturing base, regressive income taxes, and dispensations to monopolize trade, among other anti-liberal policies. Jerry Muller's marvelously well-written and colorful story of the road to capitalism helps us understand the essential roles played by open, competitive markets, personal liberties and a secular state in preserving and expanding our wealth.
I commend The Mind and the Market to you without reservation.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A suberb intellectual history of Western economic theories, May 28, 2005
By 
"The Mind and the Market" is certainly a rare bird: a 400-page tract of intellectual history that manages to be lucid and fascinating, informative and persuasive. It is not a historical chronicle per se; instead it is a chronological sampling of biographical profiles of major and minor thinkers and how they viewed, with admiration and mistrust, capitalism and the "free market."

Muller examines the careers and thoughts of thinkers from the eighteenth- and nineteenth-centuries (from Adam Smith to Karl Marx), as well as more recent writers (such as George Lukacs and Friedrich Hayek) and lesser known intellectuals (Hans Freyer and Werner Sombart). An intriguing subplot of sorts that runs through these chapters is the societal and academic view of the role of Jewish populations in the development of the market; such views, even among the best thinkers (with few exceptions), tended to be harsh and simplistic. Muller's book does not in any way pretend to be comprehensive--he admits in the introduction that the authors under discussion "are drawn disproportionately from German-speaking Europe"--but this tighter focus allows for a better, more coherent narrative.

"The Mind and the Market" is at its best when it sticks to intellectual history; when Muller turns to economic history, however, he occasionally falters (or, more accurately, his discussion is nakedly incomplete). In his largely unimpeachable comments on Marx's myopia, for example, he counters that capitalist development in the late nineteenth century lead to better working and living conditions in England, as well as "improved standards of health and safety in one industry after another." Such a description of the standard of living is true, but "capitalist development" is only half the story and even that story applies to only to the island and not the empire. The British Isles also benefited from colonialism: unprecedented wealth entered the country at the same time that significant chunks of its labor supply shipped overseas to jobs in civil service and the military--often never to return (60,000 died in the Crimean War alone).

Similarly, Muller notes correctly that Hayek's economic theories have gained much prominence during the last three decades, but his arguments for their exoneration is a bit one-sided. He notes the deregulation and tax reduction in the United States during the 1980s but fails to admit the un-Hayek escalation in government spending (at both the federal and state levels) and in budget deficits.

Fortunately for the reader, however, such details, which comprise only small portions of the book, are beyond its scope and in no way compromise the integrity of Muller's discussion of these great thinkers. Taken as a whole, "The Mind and Market" amply displays the love-hate relationship between philosophers and capitalism and how that relationship has evolved during the last two centuries.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not exactly what I was looking for, February 20, 2005
By 
JohnnyT (Orange County, CA) - See all my reviews
Being interested in the topic made the book very helpful. But I was a bit disapointed with his obvious slant towards a free-market. Though I think he does a good job presenting arguments against capitalism and the free-market, he doesn't leave the arguments alone. For example, on Marx, he takes the time to make a critique that he does not make of other authors. Is this because he doesn't want his readers to be persuaded by Marx? That is my imperssion. Still, I found the book intersting and his treatment on Marcuse compelling.

But I was looking for a book that was not approching economics from a free-market perspective. I was unsure of his position when buying the book. The other reviews I read gave me the impression that he was somehow un-biased (not that I thought anyone can be un-biased) or maybe even left leaning. But just so you know, I would say he is not left leaning, at least not in a Marxist sense. If you are looking for a Marxist critique of Capitalism, which I was, this isn't necesarily the book for you. But, it does put the whole discussion in a nice frame and presents the Marxists and anit-capitalists in a fair light. I enjoyed it from cover to cover.

It was a good book for me at the time and I would recomend it to anyone interested in the topic.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What Everyone Should Know About Market Capitalism, March 10, 2009
I became aware of this book when taking Professor Muller's course from the Teaching Company which produces short courses in CD and DVD formats. It was one of the "essential" readings for the course.

Professor Muller provides in this book the total spectrum of economic theories and philosophies over the history of the science and the notion of market capitalism. The ideas covered range from those of Marx to Schumpeter, with the views of many who fall between these extremes also presented.

Professor Muller is unfailingly non-judgmental in these presentations and it would be difficult to discern any bias toward one form of political/economy over another. Judgment is left to the reader.

Although I would recommend this book for everyone at any time in the nation's history, never in my memory has such an exposition of economic thought been more timely. The current turmoil about markets and regulation begs for the clarity and perspective offered by this book.

I would even go so far a to say that it should be required reading for all high school students. It is not technically difficult, it is devoid of mathematics, and it is very entertaining.

Yet, if read carefully and thoughtfully it will provide a clearer understanding of the issues of the day and forever. Not much is as important as how a nation structures its political/economy, and there is much to consider during these times when it seems that there may be something fundamentally wrong with our current financial and economic systems and structures.

This book could help us deliberate these issues in a more informed way.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The connection between anti-commerce and anti-Semitism, December 28, 2002
By 
This review is from: The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought (Hardcover)
There were three interesting friends of commerce whose support of commerce derived from experiences of their time. I had not seen the connection in their writing. Muller found it.
Adam Smith the first great lover of commerce was drawn to his insights in sharp contrast to the rampant and vicious wars of religion around him. As a Scot idealist, Smith was stunned at the internecine battle for righteousness among the Baptists, Anabaptists, Puritans, Quakers, Anglicans and Roman Catholics. Commerce seemed mild in comparison, offering a prospect of inter religious neutrality and even cooperation.
Georg Simmel's insight , 150 years later, came from the extraordinary cultural and intellectual vitality of his 1900 Vienna and the Austro-Hungarian empire before WWI. Commerce was the driving force for ethnic diversity in the capital, for entrepreneurial vigor that crossed class lines and Simmel saw the creation of liberal freedoms in a dying Catholic anachronism.
Joseph Schumpeter experienced the exuberance of the entrepreneurial spirit in post WWI Germany and recognized that commerce could uniquely utilize the talents and genius of the creative elites who drove society forward.
While these three intellectual friends and appreciators of commerce gained their insight from a variety of experiences, the intellectual enemies of commerce all had one thing in common. Their hatred of commerce paralleled their nearly universal hatred of Jews.
Voltaire hated Jews and liked the free market only for the luxury goods it could produce. Marx was vituperative in his hatred of both commerce and Jews. His prominent disciples from Trotsky to Stalin explicitly hated commerce and Jews. The anti-commerce thinkers, Tonnies, Sombert and Heidigger, were similar in the vehemence of their anti-Semitism.
As Fredrich von Hayek put it in reference to the Roman Catholic Church in the 12th century, "It is the old story of the alien race's being admitted only to the less respected trades and then being hated still more for practicing them." . The Catholic Church hated the commercial challenges to landlords and to local markets from trade, money lending and the free floating prices of goods outside of guild control. So the Church let only outsiders into the world of commerce: Jews. Then the Church taught hatred of Jews because they were involved in commerce.
The significance of this issue is statistically evident from the index of Muller's book. The entries for Jews, Judaism and for anti-Semitism are much longer than for any other subject. On closer inspection, the entries are abbreviations. Under Jews, Vienna it says 341-356. On each page the issue of Jews is mentioned in nearly every paragraph. Separate entries for each mention of Jews and anti-Semitism would have consumed nearly a third of the index.
This thousand year old symbiosis of commerce hatred and Jew hatred is so deep most of us are blind to it. There is little new in the specific 21st Century hatred of business. Anti-globalization and anti-Starbucks were expressed by Justus Moser in 1770. "... the (local) artisan, Moser believed, was now being undermined by the international market and its local agent, the shopkeeper. The shopkeeper imported goods from... London, Paris and big cities... and so the (local) artisan was increasingly displaced by the shopkeeper." Moser is quoted: "Our ancestors did not tolerate ... shopkeepers; they were spare in dispensing market freedoms; they banned the Jew from our diocese ... in order that ... inhabitants not be daily stimulated, tempted, led astray and deceived ...."
Other anti-commerce assumptions, such as: equity markets are a haven for speculators and banks and lenders are parasites, is 500 years old. The idea that free marketplace competition destroys nationalism, destroys the elite status quo and destroys ethnic purity have long been widely expressed. And denounced.
Today's lefty liberal is in many ways a 12th century Roman Catholic monk in modern clothes. Many are unwitting anti-Semites at that.
Muller's book is an eye opening Goliath. His title The Mind and the Market represents a double entendre. My mind was altered by my encounter with the Market presented in Muller's brilliant insights.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible!, August 11, 2005
The world of capitalism is presented to us through the eyes of the greatest European thinkers. Muller examines the relationship between the individual and the state though the prism of the marketplace tapping into the writings from thinkers such as Adam Smith, Marx, Voltaire, Schumpeter and Hayek. The depth and breath of this economic treatise on the marketplace presents perspectives from all sides of the political spectrum while taking the time and care to place that thinker's perspective within its proper historical context.

The thinkers that are tapped into come from a very broad swath of history. Their perspectives trace how western civilization left the feudal period where commerce and finance where frowned upon as immoral or dirty and how Europe eventually developed market-based institutions that we are so familiar with today. This book clearly shows how thinking men viewed the development of markets and how societies dealt with the social and moral benefits and costs of markets. Muller also describes how different societies in different time periods came to different conclusions on how a market should be regulated and managed as a result of the efforts of these great thinkers.

The way we operate today is linked inextricably to the past. Market-based societies are a product of western European history and culture. The answer to why things are like today can be found in the past and Mueller provides the key.
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The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought
The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Modern European Thought by Jerry Z. Muller (Hardcover - November 12, 2002)
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