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Why We Bite the Invisible Hand by Peter Foster

The full title of this book by Peter Foster is

Why We Bite the Invisible Hand: The Psychology of Anti-Capitalism“.

In my review on Amazon.co.uk, I gave this book Four Stars. This means it is Good and Well Worth Reading.

Here is my book review.

An important book

In his book Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Joseph Schumpeter explained that the rise in living standards that comes from a capitalist society causes a great increase in the education levels of the population.

He explained that the educated but uncompetitive would hate the capitalist system because their merits weren’t recognised and, as a result, would try to seize control of educational and cultural institutions so that they could spread the message that capitalism doesn’t work.

By controlling the spread of ideas, these people can gain power and become the new elite.

Remember how the message in Animal Farm changed from “All animals are equal” to “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others”. Every society I can think of based on capitalism, communism, religion or military force has a privileged elite at the top that lives a good life compared to the vast majority.

Winston Churchill allegedly said “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative when you’re 40, you have no head.” Robin Hood politics of taking from the rich to give to the poor are very appealing until you stop focusing exclusively on the share of the cake and realise that it’s possible for everyone to have more if the cake is encouraged to expand.

The growth in affluence created by “controlled” capitalism is astonishing when you compare developed countries with the very undeveloped countries or look back at the lives of the average person in the UK 50, 100 or 200 years ago. We take so much of the progress for granted.

I accept that not all capitalism is good. Like religion, bad things have been done in its name. The practical issue is how you get the good of capitalism without creating crony capitalism which enriches the 1% or even the 0.01% at the expense of everyone else. We need a grown up debate that doesn’t splinter out to the extremes.

This book reflects a personal journey, both physical and intellectual to understand why people think so badly about capitalism when evidence of its successes is all around. It starts by contrasting the treatment of the graves of Adam Smith in Canongate Kirkgate in Edinburgh and Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery in London.

The contents is a wide ranging discussion of philosophy, politics and economics as it explains why so many people see a market based society based on the voluntary exchange of goods and services where each party gains as bad.

It’s well written and an interesting read but I find that I can’t give it a full five star rating.

It helps to answer an important question that I don’t think is being asked. Anti-capitalists aren’t going to read it and be converted and I’m not sure that believers in free markets care about debating their beliefs. They are too busy trying to make money.

While there is such clear inequality in the country with the wealthy leading such affluent lives, the benefits of a society based on free market exchanges will be under-valued.

It is available to buy from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

There are many thousand of business books, you can see the full list of my reviews at Business Books Reviews by Paul Simister (Please click). I've also narrowed these down to a list of the 12 Best Business Books For Business Owners & Entrepreneurs (Please click).

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