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The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics Hardcover – March 28, 2007

4.3 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Accomplished feminist social theorist and activist Eisler follows up her 1987 international bestseller The Chalice and the Blade with an inquiry into the nature and causes of "the real wealth of nations" in a contrarian work of grand economic theory. She begins with her original thesis: that we inherit and inhabit a personal and social world that masculinity has built by consistently devaluing and subordinating the feminine. Pointing out the socially and ecologically destructive flaws inherent in both capitalist and socialist economies, she then asserts that our emerging global society needs a new story of what human nature and economics are and can be. For Eisler, economies are social inventions imbedded in larger social systems. She offers a clearly written and compelling account of how the masculine "dominator" mentality brought us to our present juncture, and how a feminine "partnership" mentality can help us redefine key concepts such as "value" and "needs." Citing the most recent economic data and offering numerous relevant examples of places where efforts to practice a caring economics have succeeded both in preindustrial and modern societies, such as the Nordic nations, the book is ambitious in breadth, depth and scope. Eisler delivers another impressive work that's remarkably well referenced, well argued, insightful and hopeful. (Apr.)
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From Booklist

Forward-thinking social scientist Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade (1987) and Tomorrow's Children (2000), is renowned for her innovative perspectives on relationships, education, sex, and spirituality. Now in a similar vein as Bill McKibben in Deep Economy (2007), she addresses the need for a "more equitable and sustainable economic system" based on the "essential work of caring for people and nature." Current economics fails to value the most fundamental aspects of people's daily lives, Eisler observes, and she identifies the "lack of caring" as the "common denominator" underlying grave social and environmental problems. Eisler precisely maps her detailed vision of a caring economy and diligently supports her concept with a fascinating spectrum of information and analysis of everything from how little we value child care to the true cost of war and pollution. On a deeper level, Eisler writes about how the cultural stories we absorb--women are inferior to men, nature is indestructible--perpetuate an economics that is proving disastrous. Eisler argues cogently that now is the time to invest in life. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Berrett-Koehler Publishers; Annotated edition (March 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576753883
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576753880
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #514,716 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Donald Mitchell HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The Real Wealth of Nations is the most fundamental critique of macro and micro economics that I have ever seen. Everyone should take these points seriously.

Her bedrock critique is that economics is harmfully selective in what it chooses to measure and consider. That's like stopping mathematics with the numbers 1 though 5 and ignoring the other numbers.

Macro economics does this by paying scant, if any, attention to production and services that don't generate an exchange of money (such as raising your own children) but have an economic impact (by producing a more or less productive member of society who generates fewer or more benefits for others) or aren't in the legal economy (drug dealing) which certainly affect the "legal" economy.

Micro economics does this by encouraging decision makers to look too narrowly at close-in effects (such as company near-term profits) rather than the ripple and secondary effects (such as the benefit or harm that customers, partners, employees, the environment, and society experience which also have measurable costs and benefits). Most of those who apply micro economics would have no clue for how to consider those other dimensions.

What you don't measure will be treated like it doesn't matter. That's the rub. We are all bound up in a tradition stall that says that much of what creates a good society doesn't require such focus. But if we did focus, we would do better. I agree.

So how do we get past this? Reading The Real Wealth of Nations is a good start. You can't see all of your social conditioning until someone shows you what's missing from the paradigm. Ms. Eisler cites a lot of studies by others to get you thinking. That's good.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I missed Riane Eisler's recent talk at the PARC Forum, but the abstract was so inspiring, I bought the book. As with many (all?) the other reviewers thus far, I support the basic notion of "caring economics": elevating the valuation of traditionally feminine activities such as caring and caregiving. I support partnership over domination (though don't know what to make of "hierarchies of actualization"), and the establishment of rules, tools and schools that offer a more comprehensive accounting - and accountability - within economics, that will incorporate the social and environmental dimensions more effectively, and eliminate "externalities" - costs that corporations can pass on to "external" stakeholders (as opposed to stockholders).

The other reviewers have done a great job at highlighting many of the positive aspects of this book. I wanted to offer a slightly dissenting opinion, based on three issues that bothered me. One is that I believe the book is about twice as long as it needs to be. There is considerable redundancy, and by the last few chapters, I found myself growing increasingly annoyed as she repeatedly repeated ideas and themes covered [well] in other chapters. As with some other books I've read, it strikes me as a potentially fabulous journal-length article that was stretched too far. A brief perusal of her paper on "Work, Values, Caring" available on her PartnershipWay web site suggests that this paper may cover much of the content in the book, in a much shorter space.

A second shortcoming I see in the book is a lack of reference to either Milton Mayeroff's classic work ON CARING or to Yochai Benkler's more recent paradigm-shifting book, THE WEALTH OF NETWORKS: HOW SOCIAL PRODUCTION TRANSFORMS MARKETS AND FREEDOM.
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I was first introduced to Riane Eisler's work years ago through her profoundly enlightening book, THE CHALICE AND THE BLADE. I have carried her message about the value of partnership and cooperation over dominance ever since. Eisler's latest book, THE REAL WEALTH OF NATIONS, reflects on the dominant form of economics around which our world currently functions. It is a paradigm that has been in place for at least 10,000 years. The system, as currently constituted, serves the interests of the few at the great expense of the many. It has also become increasingly destructive to the environment and to the lives of the vast majority of world's people. Eisler offers an alternative vision for market economics that is inclusive rather exclusive, nurturing rather than destructive, open and transparent rather than accessible only to the privileged few sitting at the apex of human society. Solving the world's burgeoning problems requires more than treating symptoms. It requires a fundamental reshaping of the prevailing, dominance oriented economics that encourages human suffering, and environmental destruction on a massive scale. Riane Eisler's THE REAL WEALTH OF NATIONS is powerful and life affirming. The economics based on partnership and the common good that she envisions offers the best chance for creating prosperity for all the world's people while at the same time restoring and protecting our Earth's biological heritage. Written in a style that is highly accessible and also thoroughly engaging, this latest book from Riane Eisler is a gift of awareness and understanding that should be at the top of every person's reading list.
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