Cover image for Capitalism and its economics : a critical history
Capitalism and its economics : a critical history
Dowd, Douglas Fitzgerald, 1919-
Publication Information:
London ; Sterling, Va. : Pluto Press, 2000.
Physical Description:
xv, 319 pages ; 23 cm

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HB501 .D68 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Written by a maverick in the world of alternative economics, this book is a critical history of the relationship between economic thought and capitalism from 1750 to the present. The book examines th dynamic interaction of two processes: the historical realities of capitalism and the evolution of economic theory. As Dowd demonstrates, the study of economics celebrates capitalism in ways which make it necessary to classify economic science as pure ideology. A thoroughly modern history, this book shows how economics has become ideology. A radical critic of capitalism, Dowd surveys its detrimental impact across the globe and throughout history.

Author Notes

Douglas Fitzgerald Dowd was born in San Francisco, California on December 7, 1919. During World War II, he was as a bomber pilot downed over the Pacific. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1949 and later received a doctorate there. He taught at Cornell University from 1953 until 1970. He also taught at San Jose State University, the University of California, at Berkeley and at Santa Cruz, and the University of Modena and the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies Bologna Center in Italy.

He wrote several books including U.S. Capitalist Development Since 1776: Of, by and for Which People? and Blues for America: A Critique, a Lament, and Some Memories. He died from congestive heart failure on September 8, 2017 at the age of 97.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 1

Choice Review

In this remarkable book, Dowd packs the history of the capitalist economy from the Industrial Revolution in the middle of the 18th century to the present-day together with a history of how economists reacted to the rapidly changing conditions. He goes beyond the conventional story of capitalism developing in England and then taking root in US by covering the development of competitors to the Anglo-American version of capitalism, first in France, then in Germany, the Soviet Union, and Japan. Each chapter covers a particular period and each period has a particular theme. So, for example, he characterizes the years between 1945 and 1975 with the theme of resurrection and the years since 1975 in terms of globalization and financialization. Dowd has made this book imminently readable. It is accessible to a general reader who lacks any real exposure to economic theory. This ability to compress such private reading of the economy and economics into a single work is a marvelous accomplishment. Dowd's sympathy lies with the downtrodden. He has the ability to bring humor into his work, even when he is addressing grim topics. This book is extraordinarily rich in the breadth of its topics as well as in the many insights sprinkled throughout. Highly recommended for public and academic library collections. M. Perelman California State University, Chico

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xii
What Has Capitalism Done For Us? To Us?p. 1
The Dynamics of Capitalist Developmentp. 3
Capitalism's nature and nurturep. 4
The heart of the matter: expansion and exploitationp. 5
Oligarchic rule?p. 6
What exploitation?p. 8
"Trade and the flag": Which follows which?p. 9
In sump. 11
The Sociology of Economic Theoryp. 12
"The economy"p. 13
Objectivity and neutralityp. 13
What should economists be expected to do?p. 15
Part I 1750-1945
1 Birth: The Industrial Revolution and Classical Political Economy, 1750-1850
The Start of Something Bigp. 19
Why Britain took the leadp. 19
Commodification as revolutionp. 20
The State: Now You See It, Now You Don'tp. 21
Emperor Cottonp. 23
Hell on earthp. 24
Industrialism in the Saddlep. 25
The Brains Trustp. 28
Adam Smithp. 28
"Invisible hand" or "invisible fist"?p. 30
David Ricardop. 31
The gospel of free tradep. 32
Abstract theory versus earthy realitiesp. 33
Jean-Baptiste Sayp. 34
Depression is impossiblep. 34
Thomas Robert Malthusp. 35
Jeremy Benthamp. 38
John Stuart Millp. 40
And Karl Marxp. 42
2 Maturation: Global Capitalism and Neoclassical Economics, 1850-1914
And British Industry Shall Rule the World: For a Whilep. 45
Politics, the accumulation of capital, and the industrial revolutionp. 46
The Second Industrial Revolutionp. 48
Industrialization at the gallopp. 49
The Pandora's box of imperialismp. 49
The United Statesp. 51
The importance of being luckyp. 53
Big, bigger, biggestp. 54
Germanyp. 57
Prussian political economyp. 58
German science and technologyp. 59
The nation with two facesp. 60
A Digression on the Casting of Stonesp. 62
Japanp. 64
Arise, Ye Prisoners of Starvation!p. 69
"Don't waste any time in mourning. Organize"p. 70
Socialist movements in Europep. 72
And the United States?p. 72
Japan and Germany (again)p. 74
A Place in the Sunp. 76
The rat race beginsp. 77
... And speeds upp. 78
... Then explodesp. 79
Economists in Wonderlandp. 81
"Let us now assume ..."p. 81
Recipes for absurditiesp. 83
Counter-attack: Karl Marxp. 86
The social processp. 86
The dynamics of nineteenth-century capitalist developmentp. 87
And Thorstein Veblenp. 90
Human beings versus the systemp. 91
3 Death Throes: Chaos, War, Depression, War Again; Economics in Disarray, 1914-45
The War to End All Wars--But That Didn'tp. 94
Messy world, neat economicsp. 95
As You Sow, So Shall You Reapp. 96
War's unwholesome economic fruitsp. 97
The United Statesp. 97
Germanyp. 98
Japanp. 98
The Soviet Unionp. 99
The premature revolutionp. 100
Forced industrializationp. 101
Fascist Italyp. 103
The first working class?p. 103
Antonio Gramscip. 105
The future casts its shadowp. 106
The Big Onep. 108
The bitter with the betterp. 109
The bumpy road downp. 110
Global contagionp. 112
A tragedy of errorsp. 113
New brooms don't always sweep cleanp. 114
New Dealp. 115
Better late than neverp. 116
Unionsp. 117
Housingp. 117
Social securityp. 117
Nazi Germanyp. 118
Through a glass darklyp. 119
Waste Landp. 122
Apocalypse nowp. 122
Economics: Almost Out With the Old, Almost In With the Newp. 124
The old stamping groundsp. 124
John Bates Clarkp. 126
Irving Fisherp. 126
Joan Robinson Ip. 126
Turning the earthp. 127
John Maynard Keynesp. 127
Alvin Hansenp. 132
Joan Robinson IIp. 133
Joseph A. Schumpeterp. 135
Part II 1945-2000
4 Resurrection: Global Economy II and its Crisis; Hopeful Stirrings in Economics: 1945-75
The Best of Times--For Some, For a Whilep. 141
The Big Sixp. 142
Behemoth Capitalism Unboundp. 143
From the Ashes Arising...p. 144
Rescuep. 146
Rebuildingp. 146
Modernization ... and the Cold Warp. 147
"Cry Havoc! And let slip the dogs of war"p. 149
"Excessive vigilance in the defense of freedom is no crime"p. 150
BIG Businessp. 151
The giants feedp. 152
As a matter of factp. 152
Superstatesp. 154
All Together Now: Shop! And Borrow!p. 156
The consciousness industryp. 156
Consumerism as a social diseasep. 158
The family and politicsp. 158
Stagflation: The Monster with Two Headsp. 159
Toward the new world orderp. 161
Economics on a Seesawp. 162
Post-Keynesian economicsp. 162
Radical political economyp. 164
Up with the oldp. 165
5 New World Order: Globalization and Financialization; and Decadent Economics, 1975-2000
Introduction and Retrospectp. 167
Monopoly Capitalism IIp. 168
Giants Roaming the Earthp. 170
The waltz of the toreadorsp. 172
TNCs of the world, unite!p. 172
Media/telecommunicationsp. 174
Petroleump. 174
"The new economy"--Who benefits, and who pays?p. 174
Wall Streetp. 175
Wages and hoursp. 175
Lean and meanp. 176
Fat and meanp. 178
The Superstate's New Mastersp. 180
The World as Capital's Oysterp. 182
The Triumph of Spectronic Financep. 183
The little old lady of Threadneedle Street and her offspringp. 186
"Is the United States Building a Debt Bomb?"p. 188
The addicted consumerp. 190
And so?p. 191
The Media: Amusing Ourselves to Deathp. 192
For Shame!p. 195
Introduction: Economic Growth as Iconp. 200
The Case for Growthp. 201
The Tossicodipendente Global Economyp. 202
The theater of the absurd and the obscenep. 203
Honk, if you need a gas maskp. 204
Global Economy III: Today, the Worldp. 205
Democracy: the challenge metp. 205
Orwell revisitedp. 207
The political economy of corruptionp. 208
From Bad to Worsep. 209
Hong Kongp. 209
Singaporep. 209
South Koreap. 210
Taiwanp. 210
The eleventh commandment: export!p. 211
Needs and Possibilities and New Directionsp. 212
Politics and understandingp. 213
Structural changesp. 214
Notesp. 216
Bibliographyp. 297
Indexp. 313