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One of the central tenets of mainstream economics is Adam Smith's proposition that, given certain conditions, self-interested behavior by individuals leads them to the social good, almost as if orchestrated by an invisible hand. This deep insight has, over the past two centuries, been taken out of context, contorted, and used as the cornerstone of free-market orthodoxy. In One of the central tenets of mainstream economics is Adam Smith's proposition that, given certain conditions, self-interested behavior by individuals leads them to the social good, almost as if orchestrated by an invisible hand. This deep insight has, over the past two centuries, been taken out of context, contorted, and used as the cornerstone of free-market orthodoxy. In Beyond the Invisible Hand, Kaushik Basu argues that mainstream economics and its conservative popularizers have misrepresented Smith's insight and hampered our understanding of how economies function, why some economies fail and some succeed, and what the nature and role of state intervention might be. Comparing this view of the invisible hand with the vision described by Kafka--in which individuals pursuing their atomistic interests, devoid of moral compunction, end up creating a world that is mean and miserable--Basu argues for collective action and the need to shift our focus from the efficient society to one that is also fair. Using analytic tools from mainstream economics, the book challenges some of the precepts and propositions of mainstream economics. It maintains that, by ignoring the role of culture and custom, traditional economics promotes the view that the current system is the only viable one, thereby serving the interests of those who do well by this system. Beyond the Invisible Hand challenges readers to fundamentally rethink the assumptions underlying modern economic thought and proves that a more equitable society is both possible and sustainable, and hence worth striving for. By scrutinizing Adam Smith's theory, this impassioned critique of contemporary mainstream economics debunks traditional beliefs regarding best economic practices, self-interest, and the social good.


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One of the central tenets of mainstream economics is Adam Smith's proposition that, given certain conditions, self-interested behavior by individuals leads them to the social good, almost as if orchestrated by an invisible hand. This deep insight has, over the past two centuries, been taken out of context, contorted, and used as the cornerstone of free-market orthodoxy. In One of the central tenets of mainstream economics is Adam Smith's proposition that, given certain conditions, self-interested behavior by individuals leads them to the social good, almost as if orchestrated by an invisible hand. This deep insight has, over the past two centuries, been taken out of context, contorted, and used as the cornerstone of free-market orthodoxy. In Beyond the Invisible Hand, Kaushik Basu argues that mainstream economics and its conservative popularizers have misrepresented Smith's insight and hampered our understanding of how economies function, why some economies fail and some succeed, and what the nature and role of state intervention might be. Comparing this view of the invisible hand with the vision described by Kafka--in which individuals pursuing their atomistic interests, devoid of moral compunction, end up creating a world that is mean and miserable--Basu argues for collective action and the need to shift our focus from the efficient society to one that is also fair. Using analytic tools from mainstream economics, the book challenges some of the precepts and propositions of mainstream economics. It maintains that, by ignoring the role of culture and custom, traditional economics promotes the view that the current system is the only viable one, thereby serving the interests of those who do well by this system. Beyond the Invisible Hand challenges readers to fundamentally rethink the assumptions underlying modern economic thought and proves that a more equitable society is both possible and sustainable, and hence worth striving for. By scrutinizing Adam Smith's theory, this impassioned critique of contemporary mainstream economics debunks traditional beliefs regarding best economic practices, self-interest, and the social good.

30 review for Beyond the Invisible Hand: Groundwork for a New Economics

  1. 4 out of 5

    Siddhartha Das

    Exceptional book, considering the recommendations that he comes up with and the rational he provides. The ideas about political globalization and the law of large numbers makes you think. Though could be tough for someone who has no experience of basic microeconomics as he uses a lot of its methodology in it's argument. Exceptional book, considering the recommendations that he comes up with and the rational he provides. The ideas about political globalization and the law of large numbers makes you think. Though could be tough for someone who has no experience of basic microeconomics as he uses a lot of its methodology in it's argument.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Praveen Kishore

    Simply awesome! A deep, insightful and passionate book about a more human and realistic vision of economics, which can actually be used for making this world better for everyone! A Gem. A must for all economics students.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dom Greco

    Disappointing and appears contradictory. The author advocates that major economic decisions should be based upon intuition and emotion, rather than reason and learning. For example, “… the distortion in their lenses caused by excessive learning…”; “… the need for intuitive understanding…”; “… requires a feel for things…” The author frequently uses vague and undefined terms and phrases that appeal to emotions, rather than reason, such as: Unfair contracts, groups are outwitted, gullibility, selfish Disappointing and appears contradictory. The author advocates that major economic decisions should be based upon intuition and emotion, rather than reason and learning. For example, “… the distortion in their lenses caused by excessive learning…”; “… the need for intuitive understanding…”; “… requires a feel for things…” The author frequently uses vague and undefined terms and phrases that appeal to emotions, rather than reason, such as: Unfair contracts, groups are outwitted, gullibility, selfishness, duped, exploitation, property grabbing, loopholes, plunder, equitable, and fleece. It appears that the author believes that what the world needs is a benevolent dictator who will use their “intuitive understanding”, their emotion, their “feel for things”, and not be blinded by their learning, to decide how the world should be run, and which assets should be taken from which people and given to those that the benevolent dictator believes are more worthy. But then, it is difficult to reconcile all of what the author has said, such as that set forth above, advocating significant changes in the world, with the author statement “I believe in determinism, which implies that the future that stretches in front of us is foretold, and as unalterable…”. How is it logically consistent for someone to at the same time (X) believe that the future is “foretold, and as unalterable”, and (Y) advocate significant and drastic societal changes? Perhaps a more knowledgeable person than me can explain and reconcile these views and contentions. If they can be explained and reconciled, then where can I find such explanation and reconciliation?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Nallasivan V.

    Food For Thought: Is Capitalism only a sophisticated casteism?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rahul Khanna

    There is a very insightful line in this book: Those people born poor have as many disadvantages in contemporary capitalist society as the 'twice' born have advantages in a caste based society. There is a very insightful line in this book: Those people born poor have as many disadvantages in contemporary capitalist society as the 'twice' born have advantages in a caste based society.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Venky

    An insightful and original work dealing with the concept propounded by Adam Smith and beyond.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rohit Kumar

    Great Book. Uses insights from sociology and psychology to create a more grounded understanding of economics!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Alain

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bella

  10. 5 out of 5

    Abelardo De Anda

  11. 4 out of 5

    Rob

  12. 5 out of 5

    Tanay Raj

  13. 4 out of 5

    Arjo Dasgupta

  14. 4 out of 5

    Eswar

  15. 5 out of 5

    Navdeep Pundhir

  16. 5 out of 5

    Pat Beck

  17. 4 out of 5

    Trisa Nandi

  18. 5 out of 5

    Genghis Khan

  19. 4 out of 5

    Anand Shrivastava

  20. 5 out of 5

    John

  21. 4 out of 5

    BLTN

  22. 5 out of 5

    Himanshu Khurana

  23. 5 out of 5

    Garret

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kannan

  25. 5 out of 5

    Omkar

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kartik Sharma

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aruni Mitra

  28. 5 out of 5

    Robert

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anil Vemireddy

  30. 4 out of 5

    Anil Swarup

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