The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics

Riane Eisler

Language: English

Published: Nov 10, 2008


Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations provided the first, most influential and lasting explanation of the workings of modern economics. But with his focus on "the market" as the best mechanism for producing and distributing the necessities of life, Smith's concepts only told part of the story, leading to flawed economic models that devalue activities that fall outside of the market's parameters of buying and selling. The real wealth of nations, Riane Eisler argues, is not merely financial, but includes the contributions of people and our natural environment. Here, Eisler goes beyond the market to reexamine economics from a larger perspective--and shows that we must give visibility and value to the socially and economically essential work of caring for people and the planet if we are to meet the enormous challenges we are facing.

Eisler proposes a new "caring economics" that takes into account the full spectrum of economic activities--from the life--sustaining activities of the household, to the life-enriching activities of caregivers and communities, to the life-supporting processes of nature. She shows how our values are distorted by the economic double standard that devalues anything stereotypically associated with women and femininity; reveals how current economic models are based on a deep-seated culture of domination; and shows how human needs would be better served by economic models based on caring. Most importantly, she provides practical proposals for new economic inventions--new measures, policies, rules, and practices--to bring about a caring economics that fulfills human needs.

Like her classic The Chalice and the Blade, The Real Wealth of Nations is a bold and insightful look at how to create a society in which each of us can achieve the full measure of our humanity. 

"Accomplished feminist social theorist and activist Eisler follows up her 1987 international bestseller The Chalice and the Blade with an inquiry into the nature and causes of "the real wealth of nations" in a contrarian work of grand economic theory. She begins with her original thesis: that we inherit and inhabit a personal and social world that masculinity has built by consistently devaluing and subordinating the feminine. Pointing out the socially and ecologically destructive flaws inherent in both capitalist and socialist economies, she then asserts that our emerging global society needs a new story of what human nature and economics are and can be. For Eisler, economies are social inventions imbedded in larger social systems. She offers a clearly written and compelling account of how the masculine 'dominator' mentality brought us to our present juncture, and how a feminine 'partnership' mentality can help us redefine key concepts such as 'value' and 'needs.' Citing the most recent economic data and offering 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, the book is ambitious in breadth, depth and scope. Eisler delivers another impressive work that's remarkably well referenced, well argued, insightful and hopeful." —Publishers Weekly

"Forward-thinking social scientist Eisler, author of The Chalice and the Blade (1987) and Tomorrow's Children (2000), is renowned for her innovative perspectives on relationships, education, sex, and spirituality. Now in a similar vein as Bill McKibben in Deep Economy (2007), she addresses the need for a "more equitable and sustainable economic system" based on the 'essential work of caring for people and nature.' Current economics fails to value the most fundamental aspects of people's daily lives, Eisler observes, and she identifies the "lack of caring" as the "common denominator" underlying grave social and environmental problems. Eisler precisely maps her detailed vision of a caring economy and diligently supports her concept with a fascinating spectrum of information and analysis of everything from how little we value child care to the true cost of war and pollution. On a deeper level, Eisler writes about how the cultural stories we absorb--women are inferior to men, nature is indestructible--perpetuate an economics that is proving disastrous. Eisler argues cogently that now is the time to invest in life." —Donna Seaman, Booklist

Riane Eisler is a systems scientist, attorney, and author internationally known for her bestseller The Chalice and The Blade, now in 26 foreign editions and 57 US printing, as well as for other award-winning books. She keynotes conferences worldwide, with venues including the United Nations General Assembly and the US Department of State. She is President of the Center for Partnership Studies and has received many honors, including honorary Ph.D. degrees, the Alice Paul ERA Education Award, and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation's Distinguished Peace Leadership Award, and is featured in the award-winning book Great Peacemakers as one of 20 leaders for world peace, along with Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King.

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