“Patel’s accomplishment with The Value of Nothing should not be understated. He has written what is very likely the greatest introductory economics text that has ever been written, a stunning defense of democracy, and a plausible how-to guide for the social justice activists of the next century.”—Zach Carter, YES! Magazine“With great lucidity and confidence in a dazzling array of fields, Patel reveals how we inflate the cost of things we can (and often should) live without, while assigning absolutely no value to the resources we all need to survive. This is a deeply thought-provoking book about the dramatic changes we must make to save the planet from financial madness—argued with so much humor and humanity that the enormous tasks ahead feel both doable and desirable. This is Raj Patel's great gift: he makes even the most radical ideas seem not only reasonable, but inevitable. A brilliant book.”—Naomi Klein, author The Shock Doctrine"As we confront the crisis in the worldview of orthodox economics, Raj Patel offers us a whole new way to think about price and value. Bracingly written and full of surprises, The Value of Nothing is itself invaluable, showing us a path out of the darkness of the economic woods."—Michael Pollan, author of In Defense of Food and The Omnivore's Dilemma“With The Value of Nothing, Raj Patel has done something of great value: in language utterly clear, concise, literate, and engaging, he takes readers through the murk and mess of the economy's collapse. He shows the hows and whys, how we seem bent on a repeat (no real substantive changes to the practices that got us where we are, at the policy level), but also how we, in our communities, if not larger concerted efforts, have some power to right the course. What Raj Patel did so brilliantly with food in Stuffed and Starved, he now does so with money and the economy.”—Rick Simonson, Elliott Bay Book Company“In this riveting eye-opener of a book, Patel dismantles with great fluidity and precision the reigning theory of the free market and its applications: how it creates in our global society deep inequalities of power, based solely on the diktat that our fundamental needs (water, decent food, housing, health care) are worthless because not profitable, and thus leading to economic chaos and a loss of community empowerment. But there is also hope in the emergence of social groups around the world who are insisting and reclaiming ‘the right to have rights’ through their democratic engagement. Patel brilliantly shows us how both a fairer society and a sustainable economy are possible as long as we are willing to seize back our freedom to choose from colluding governments and corporations. The Value of Nothing should be required reading for any self-respecting citizen of the world.”—Marie du Vaure, Vroman’s Bookstore“It’s only January 2010, and we already have a candidate for the most important book of the year. Raj Patel’s The Value of Nothing takes aim at the conservative orthodoxy that has dominated American politics and economics for the last several decades, and he scores a direct hit.”—Bill Petrocelli, Book Passage"Patel lays bare the social, political, and environmental damage caused by free markets and the commoditization of every facet of any market society. Such commoditization allows corporations to despoil the earth for short-term profit and has encouraged at least one economist to argue that antibigamy laws restrain the economic rights of ugly people by eliminating them as second spouses in the marriage marketplace. Markets, Patel declares, are a human construct and can be overthrown by humans; social rights to political participation, democratization, and popular control over the 'commons'—air, soil, and water—offer the only viable alternative to the rape-and-pillage mentality of the market. Patel debunks the myth that markets are the perfect form of social organization, effectively arguing that the tyranny they exert can and must be replaced by strategies benefiting all humanity and ensuring our very survival. This work is written calmly and sensibly enough that it could change some readers' minds, although it will leave free-market apologists spluttering. Highly recommended."—Duncan Stewart, University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Library Journal (starred review)
Raj Patel, the author of Stuffed and Starved, is an activist and academic who has been hailed as "a visionary" for his prescience about the food crisis. Raj has worked for the World Bank and the World Trade Organization and has protested against them on four continents. He is currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley's Center for African Studies, an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Development Studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy, also known as Food First.
Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
—OSCAR WILDE, The Picture of Dorian Gray
Now I a fourfold vision see,
And a fourfold vision is given to me;
’Tis fourfold in my supreme delight,
And threefold in soft Beulah’s night,
And twofold Always. May God us keep
From Single vision, & Newton’s sleep!
—WILLIAM BLAKE, "Poems from Letters"
If war is God’s way of teaching Americans geography, recession is His way of teaching everyone a
January 4th, 2010 (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122125016)
How the U.S. Can Help Stem the Global Food Crisis - President Bush has asked Congress to approve $770 million for emergency food aid. Later this month, Raj Patel, a former analyst with leading food policy think-tank Food First, is scheduled to testify about the global food crisis before the House Financial Services Committee. Patel talks with Liane Hansen about how the government can help the global rise of food costs.
Raj Patel on The Value of Nothing, directed by Scott Hamilton Kennedy.