The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics, by Riane Eisler

It is time for a caring revolution

Book Review by Crystal Andvik

‘With the accelerating speed of economic globalization – when corporations that control international financial and technological flows that play by uncaring rules – the need for a more caring economics is more urgent than ever before’

As the United States wavers on the brink of economic disaster, critics blame deregulated markets and a handful of people positioned at the top. However, these are only symptoms of greater problems. Social scientist and bestselling author, Riane Eisler, points the way to a sustainable and equitable economy that gives value to caring for our greatest economic assets: people and our natural environment.

In her book, The Real Wealth of Nations, Eisler reveals that the greatest problems of our time – poverty, inequality, war, terrorism, and environmental degradation – are caused by flawed economic systems that have set wrong priorities and misallocated resources. Conventional economic models fail to value and support the most essential human work: caring and caregiving. Basic human needs are ever more neglected, despair and ecological destruction continue to increase, and the resulting social tensions fuel many of the conflicts of today.

Eisler’s concept– that we inherit and inhabit a personal and social world that masculinity has built by consistently devaluing and subordinating the feminine– builds the foundation of her book. She discusses social and ecological destructive flaws found in both capitalist and socialist economies; then moves forward to emphasize that our emerging global society needs a new story of what human nature and economics are and can be. To support her arguments, Eisler cites the most recent economic data and offers numerous relevant examples of places where efforts to practice a caring economics have succeeded both in preindustrial and modern societies, such as the Nordic nations.

Eisler addresses the need for a ‘more equitable and sustainable economic system based on the essential work of caring for people and nature.’ She observes, and identifies the ‘lack of caring’ as the ‘common denominator’ underlying grave social and environmental problems. Eisler offers a bold reformation: that a caring economics, transcending traditional categories like capitalism and socialism, allows for huge economic and social benefits. She describes business policies and practices, innovative economic indicators to include caregiving activities and new social structures. She lays out practical steps we can take to move towards a society based on this more humane and effective economic model.

The Real Wealth of Nations is a bold and insightful look at how to create a world in which everyone can achieve the full measure of their humanity.

For information on Eisler’s work, visit the Center for Partnership Studies: http://www.partnershipway.org/Economics-Politics/the-real-wealth-of-nations

Review published: May 2011

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