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The New Industrial State: Fourth Edition Hardcover – September 23, 1985
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"In the decades since World War II, no American writer has done more to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable than John Kenneth Galbraith." (USA Today)
About the Author
John Kenneth Galbraith who was born in 1908, is the Paul M. Warburg Professor of Economics Emeritus at Harvard University and a past president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He is the distinguished author of thirty-one books spanning three decades, including The Affluent Society, The Good Society, and The Great Crash. He has been awarded honorary degrees from Harvard, Oxford, the University of Paris, and Moscow University, and in 1997 he was inducted into the Order of Canada and received the Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 2000, at a White House ceremony, he was given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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With that said though the rating I gave was low I do think it is a necessary purchase and read so that one can make themselves familiar with many of the flawed arguments they will come into contact with.
A biased or selective reader is a limited in knowledge.
He wrote in the Foreword to this 1967 book, "I must again remind the reader that this book had its origins alongside 'The Affluent Society.' It stands in relation to that book as a house to a window. This is the structure; the earlier book allowed the first glimpse inside."
In the first chapter on "The Imperatives of Power," he states that "Technology... leads to planning," and ultimately "will require the firm to seek the help and protection of the state." This is because the state can absorb the major risks, and guarantee a market for the product. (Pg. 20) Thus, in the areas of the most exacting and advanced technology, "the market is most completely replaced," and "The fully planned economy ... is warmly regarded by those who know it best." (Pg. 31)
He invents the term "Technostructure" for the loose organization of those who bring specilialized knowledge, talent or experience to group decision-making. (Pg. 71) Mature corporations are run by this technostructure. He then opines that decentralization in Soviet-style economies does not involve a return to markets, "but a shift of some planning functions from the state to the firm." Rather than both Soviets and U.S. returning to the market (which they have "outgrown"), "There is measureable convergence to the same form of planning." (Pg. 108) (Obviously, this was written before 1989-1991.)
He asserts that "Much of what is believed to be socially important is, in fact, the adaptation of social attitudes to the goal system of the technostructure." (Pg. 163) The technostructure favors prevention of losses, over profit maximization (which "invites risk of loss"). (Pg. 168-169) He further argues that "Firms spend money to take business away from each other; all cannot succeed so the result is a standoff. The only consequence is that prices are higher and profits are lower than if by some act of government or industrial statesmanship the struggle were curbed." (Pg. 203-204)
He argues passionately that where there is a conflict between industrial and aesthetic priorities---e.g., defending the landscape against lumbermen---only the state can rule that "some patterns of consumption...are inconsistent with aesthetic goals." He concludes ironically, "That one must pause to affirm that beauty is worth the sacrifice of some increase in the Gross National Product shows how effectively our beliefs have been accommodated to the needs of the industrial system." (Pg. 350)
There is much more in the book, of course; though more than 50 years old, Galbraith's arguments remain challenging and thought-provoking, and will be of considerable interest to modern progressives.
I have been reading Galbraith for years. If you can find his book "The Great Crash" - get it. His book on Money - Whence it came and Where it went - is a study. In fact I am studying it at this moment and I am writing my own personal analysis of it. Galbraith's "Almost Everyone's Guide to Economics" is a basic in learning Economics. "The Affluent Society" is in my opinion a fantasy, but well worth reading and analyzing.
Galbraith is a great writer and teacher. I am just shocked that more of his classical works are not listed here on Amazon. If you see one of his books laying around somewhere , buy it. You won't regret it. To see this man forgotten like this is a sad loss.
Richard Edward Noble - The Hobo Philosopher - Author of:
"The Eastpointer" Selections from award winning column.