In a break form our usuel dirge of Brexit non-news, I wanted to share a book review.
As you may expect from the title of the this blog, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. For me as an amatuer armchair historian this book really hit the mark. Rainer Zitelman is a historian rather than an economist or political scientist.
In the book he start by giving over several chapters the real world examples of how Capitalism has worked across the whole worked in the last century or so. However, in a clever touch he selects pairs of countries that are obviously comparable where possible to show the distinction between the impacts on an economy of socilaist or capitalist policies.
Easy to understand and contrast examples include North and South Korea as well as West and East Germany. There is no need to hold back an the ample statistics show for themselves. East Germany lost nearly 1/3rd of it population escaping to the West during its short lifetime. North Korea became the unlovable basket case it is today whilst South Korea - with no natural resources bootstrapped itself to be better than many Western European countries.
Interestingly when discussin China's move to economic Capitalism and also South Korea's, there is plenty of room for adaptation and moderation. Korea had and has the Chaebol families and orgnisations, China the communist party and State Owned Enterprises. Nonetheless, by using the simple manta of free markets, low taxes where possible and reducing state interference in the economy the largest transformation ever in world history was completed. All without democracy impinging too much and I found it left me wanting to explore more about how the different approaches to capitalism would work out in the long-term. For many years, neoliberals have tied capitalism to democracy saying you need both to survive, but the world shows us there is little inherent link as long as the rule of law around private assets is maintained.
50% of people have been lifted out of extreme poverty in 50 years. The world has immeasurably improved where capitalist policies have been followed. The section on Africa, showing the dea hand of aid has likley held it back is also interesting, if less controversial than a few years ago.
The last chapters on why intellectuals always favour socialism (envy, for the mot part) is useful if not that helpful.
Overall all though, it is a superb read, easy to digest and full of uncontroversial statisctics that remind one of why capitalism is so succesful and why socialism is doomed to fail. There are other books that can get into the policital analysis of why Socialism or Capitalism appeals to human nature etc. For this book, it is more than enough just to historically explain the sucess of capitalism and why we must defend it and nuture it today.