Reassessing Homo Economicus
It has been some years since the University Bookman has tackled issues relating to the economy. In the interim, new scholarship has continued to demolish the god-term “economic man,” that modernist construct of utilitarian calculation and rational self-interest. Such a concoction, it now seems, has little bearing on actual human behavior; economic systems, such as “democratic capitalism,” that assume this model of man are premised on a deep error. In this issue, we offer reviews of several important books on economics that are part of that reassessment, as well as its fruits among diverse thinkers. We are pleased in particular to feature an interview with James Howard Kunstler, whose reflections on our economy and related subjects is a sobering reminder of the limits of growth. Also in this issue are two reviews of Samuel Gregg’s profound analysis of the commercial society, which differs in some respects from the capitalist society, and an omnibus review of several new books on agrarianism. One offshoot of this new economic vision is the celebrated “Crunchy Cons,” also reviewed here. The quasi-agrarian vision Rod Dreher articulated here raises tough questions—Christians, for example, are promised a heavenly city, not an organic farm; nevertheless, these alternatives present options that are healthier for individuals and societies than the market failures and “creative destruction” so valued by market ideologues.
We hope you find these reflections worthwhile.
Gerald J. Russello
Posted: November 30, 2007 in Editor’s Notes.