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The Engineers And The Price System Hardcover – May 23, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) was perhaps the most famous American economist and social critic of his time. He taught at the universities of Chicago and Missouri, Stanford University, and the New School for Social Research. His many books include The Theory of Business Enterprise, The Higher Learning in America, and The Theory of the Leisure Class, all available from Transaction.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 82 pages
  • Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, LLC (May 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1161462236
  • ISBN-13: 978-1161462234
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,366,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By curt dilger on December 17, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thorsten Veblen writes like a turn of the century lawyer with a snide, subtle, and wicked anger he humorously avoids concealing. His vision of American culture is so sound, so prescient, and so deeply irreverential towards all we hold dear, and he has much to teach us. I read this book because the introduction to The Technological Society, by Jacques Ellul says this book is better. Also because I've been dazzled by Veblen's other works Conspicuous Consumption and The Theory of the Leisure Class. This book, originally published in 1919 or thereabouts, is witnessing the nascent Soviet Union from afar, and the corporate corruption, stilled and consolidated into the Federal Reserve, up close. He sees the wealthy status quo as irrelevant saboteurs (the first chapter defines this term, with his characteristic scrupulosity)to the vital economic health of the country, and decries the advent of corporate takeover. He proposes a 'Soviet of Technicians' which the more optimistic of us could claim as a prediction of the rise of the Sciences in America during the twentieth century. However the final chapter is interpreted in retrospect, it is nonetheless an important commentary about the dynamics between capital and technology during the turn of the century. The bitter anger of his repeated use of the term, just yet, says a lot about his laconic and profound turn of mind. Please, materialists, read Mr. Veblen and find your way out!!!
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Format: Paperback
The six essays that constitute Thorstein Veblen's book The Engineers and the Price System were published as journal articles in 1919, more than ten years before the onset of The Great Depression. As with so much of his work, especially The Theory of Business Enterprise (1904), The Engineers and the Price System can reasonably be read as forecasting something like the The Great Depression because of Veblen's view that the productivity of the American economy was systematically sabotaged because of the precedence of The Business System over The Industrial System. The distinction between the two systems, The Business System producing waste and distortion on behalf of Vested Interests with no concern for the common good, and The Industrial System providing the material and technical basis for the ongoing Industrial Revolution is pervasive in Veblen's work.

Writing with an incisive, direct, and unencumbered prose style, Veblen's views, in broad outline, are surprisingly uncomplicated and easy to understand. Moreover, they can be applied to any modern capitalist economy. Veblen, however, rarely used the term capitalism, preferring to refer to Absentee Ownership, Vested Interests, and the Price System as descriptively better suited to the kind of economic system he was discussing. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that the mode of economic organization he engaged in an adversarial manner was capitalism, with the emphasis shifted from the capital/labor dichotomy preferred by Marx to the split between The Business System and The Industrial System.

It was Veblen's contention that modern technology, as embodied in The Industrial System, could, in principle, function in an almost boundlessly productive fashion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are looking at this book you probably already know why it is essential reading--my "one star" review is about the Forgotten Books Classic Reprint Edition of the book. This edition is, essentially, a bad photocopy of the book--the print is annoyingly faint. Worse still, the text is full of under linings and various markings--those are all copied too. The only funny thing is that it appears that someone tried to cover the underlining with some sort of white out. The effect is comical, however, because they often blot out parts of the print above the underlining. This is a crappy edition.
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It s slow going. Pick it up and read any half dozen lines and you will be amazed. It is a more important economic work than conspicuous consumption. No I haven't read everything he wrote. I read and reread conspicuous consumption over the last 50 years and only recently discovered engineers. Really good scholars are often strange ducks. Supposedly, Thorsten once asked this question of a class. Rhetorically he asked if they considered silk a classy material. He wore a rumpled old suit to class. It was so worn that the elbows were shiny. He would ask why the shiny elbows of his coat weren't considered "classy" like silk. Yes, this was Veblen.
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