The Worldly Philosophers : The Lives, Times And Ideas Of The Great Economic Thinkers
Review © 2005 by IBS: At least one of the 'Worldly Philosophers' was Unorderly.
I don't know why this book is a long-time bestseller. Heilbroner wrote it when he was young and although he revised it several times for new editions later, he did not give any reference to Ludwig von Mises who profoundly refuted Karl Marx 30 years before Heilbroner's 1st edition of "The Worldly Philosophers" came out. Marx is one of the wordly philosophers which Heilbroner analyses in his book and although he brings some arguments against Marx, he is fond of some of the visions Marx had, e.g.: Marx predicted economic cycles of boom and bust. I guess Heilbroner never read Mises, because Mises' "Theory & History" would have tought him that even Marx's history-based analysis was badly flawed and not scientific at all. But someone like Heilbroner who does not immediatly recognize a psychopath behind expressions like Marx's 'dictatureship of the proletariat' -a contradiction in term- or 'expropriation of expropriators' -utmost crap- will probably never get it. In contrast to Mises, who did never accept money from the state, Heilbroner was employed as Universitty professor and even consulted the government. Nevertheless, Heilbroner's chapter aptly describes what miserable life Marx and his family endured because Marx was unorderly. Marx's attitude to excommunicate even like-minded persons who wanted to cooperate with him, can't be better shown than by his publication of "The Poverty of Philosophy" (Misère de la philosophie) which he wrote to refute Pierre-Joseph Proudhon's "The Philosophy of Poverty" (La philosophie de la misère), 1846. (Remember Proudhon wrote "property is theft!" (La propriété c'est le vol), 1840.) But who wonders about a man like Marx, who according to Heilbroner said "I'm not a Marxist!" - which today still puzzles the communists.
If you'd like to know why business cycles are not caused by capitalism (as Marx claimed it were), then read Murray N. Rothbard's America's Great Depression (PDF).
-end of IBS review-
The Worldly Philosophers is a bestselling classic that not only enables us to see more deeply into our history but helps us better understand our own times. In this seventh edition, Robert L. Heilbroner provides a new theme that connects thinkers as diverse as Adam Smith and Karl Marx. The theme is the common focus of their highly varied ideas -- namely, the search to understand how a capitalist society works. It is a focus never more needed than in this age of confusing economic headlines.
In a bold new concluding chapter entitled "The End of the Worldly Philosophy?" Heilbroner reminds us that the word "end" refers to both the purpose and limits of economics. This chapter conveys a concern that today's increasingly "scientific" economics may overlook fundamental social and political issues that are central to economics. Thus, unlike its predecessors, this new edition provides not just an indispensable illumination of our past but a call to action for our future.