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Book Review Pantomime of contemporary capitalist economics unmasked

The Death of Homo Economicus
by Peter Fleming
(Pluto Press, £14.99)

IN SHIFTING seamlessly between the comic, the shocking, the unbelievable and the heart-breaking, Peter Fleming has produced an outstanding analysis of economics, society and the human condition in The Death of Homo Economicus.

It's like watching a forensic post-mortem as, layer after layer, Fleming unravels the pantomime of modern economic theory to reveal the fundamental lies underpinning it.

For the author, we are all far more than just cogs in the wealth-producing machines of the rich, reflected in much of the “informed” economic debate presenting us as such and which is little more than a cloak of sophistry rationalising exploitation and oppression.

Fleming argues that the assumptions underpinning neoclassical and neoliberal economic thinking and the unquestioning subservience to them of the political elite in the 1980s and 1990s are not only fundamentally flawed but demonstrably threaten our entire species.

By contrasting the disparity between the economic perspective of humans as producers of value for the market and the propagandised perspective of the individual as a pathological accumulator of tat and money with the more historical and arguably normative perspective of people as rational, social, caring and responsible members of the community, Fleming reveals that our emperors are wearing no clothes.

He simplifies the processes and systems that some would prefer we should think too complex to understand by continually framing processes with real examples and the impacts they have had on people and communities.

His engaging and accessible style unmasks the political chicanery of how economic policies, at the behest of the super-rich, enforce socialism for the exploiter class and unfettered capitalism for the rest.

The author contends that, in the aftermath of one of the greatest welfare scams in human history, in which taxpayers were forced to bail out the tax avoiders after their greed crashed the global economy, now is absolutely the time to start confronting the lies and abuses of those clearly unfit to manage.

Much like John McMurtry's Cancer Stage of Capitalism did 20 years ago, this book may help many to start laying the intellectual building blocks needed to realign their own internalised and self-defeating paradigm.

Perhaps then we can begin to rebuild our communities and societies based on the needs of the many as opposed to the greed of the few.

Nicolas Lalaguna is the author of Seven May Days.

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