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The Commercial Society: Foundations and Challenges in a Global Age (Studies in Ethics and Economics) Paperback – December 25, 2006
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The Commercial Society is one of those books which reminds us that commerce, trade, and free economies are deeply rooted in foundations that we tend to take for granted - until they disintegrate or are taken away. Gregg's message of commercial humanism is truly inspiring, and his warnings about its fragility bear repeating. (Robert A. Sirico, President, Acton Institute)
So much of Latin America continues to suffer the ravages of mercantile, neo-corporatist attitudes, policies, and institutions. Unless there is an systematic embrace of the type of moral, legal, and economic order described in Gregg's Commercial Society, populism will become the norm, corruption will continue to flourish, and untold millions who yearn only to express their economic creativity will continue to live in sub-human conditions. A well-written, easy to comprehend text that does not shy away from explaining complex issues. (Ricardo Crespo, Universidad Austral, Argentina)
Gregg has contributed a major work to the growing literature in the field of the commerical society and its relationship to ethical and cultural foundations. (Ethics and Economics)
An excellent study of economic liberty, its essential prerequisites, and its greatest challenges today. Everyone can learn something from this, especially those Europeans whose countries are mired in bureaucracy, stagnation, and what Tocqueville called "soft despotism." (Mart Laar, Former Prime Minister of Estoria)
About the Author
Samuel Gregg is director of research at the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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Many have been waiting for such a book for a long time. Not since reading Wilhelm Ropke have I come across a book that articulates such a strong and morally-convincing case for free societies shaped decisively by the dominance of free enterprise and markets, but in a way that escapes the mathematical justifications offered by most contemporary economists.
It is difficult to classify this book as "conservative" or "classical liberal", not least because the author utilizes sources from both traditions, such as Edmund Burke, Adam Smith, Friedrich von Hayek, and Alexis de Tocqueville. It is, in short, a book grounded firmly in various strands of the Western tradition, especially that synthesized in the Scottish Enlightenment, but prefigured by a number of late-medieval and early-modern thinkers, such as Thomas Aquinas. It is refreshing to read a text that is so unambiguously committed to authentic human liberty, but which cannot be boxed so easily in any one intellectual paradigm.
Those inclined to planned economies or socialism will find this book very challenging to their core beliefs. "The Commercial Society", however, does not seek to persuade by hectoring. Nor does it suggest that commercial order contains all the answers to humanity's questions and problems. Rather, it expresses its arguments through logic, by carefully marshaling the facts, and judiciously surveying history. The book closes with a sophisticated discussion of the possibility of building commercial orders as opposed to simply letting them evolve. It is one of the most intriguing discussions I have read of a problem that has puzzled thinkers such as Smith, Montesquieu and Tocqueville - this alone makes the book worth reading.