Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rediscovering Capitalism: Lessons from the Mistakes of Marxist-Leninism

Disclaimer: I copyedited this book, and the author is a friend and colleague.

More than a year ago, a colleague asked me to help copyedit a book she was writing: Rediscovering Fire: Basic Economic Lessons from the Soviet Experiment to Eliminate the Market. When she explained the idea behind the book--using the Soviets' experiences as a series of experiments to demonstrate fundamental laws of economics (i.e., capitalism)--I was intrigued, in part because of my background in Soviet and Russian studies. In a fit of generosity, I agreed, which I came to partially regret later when my schedule became ridiculously busy due factors outside of work. (I was already quite busy at work.)

When I actually began working on it, the regret disappeared. Her idea was as good as it had sounded. Repeatedly, the Soviets had destroyed the market and its mechanisms only to realize that they needed to recreate them to make the Soviet economy function at all. Naturally, their attempts to mimic market forces through central planning were at best half measures, which promptly failed, leaving the leaders to rediscover and reinstitute market forces under various thin disguises. The whole episode of Soviet economic experimentation would make a wonderful comedy if it had not condemned millions to misery and even death.

The book is well worth a read.

I take some pleasure in the cover by John Cox. I referred Guinevere to John Cox, a favorite cartoonist and caricaturist of mine, who has an eye for absurd.

Note: If you see any typos in this book, I don't want to hear about them. They are obviously the publisher's fault. :-)

Related Links
On Guinevere Liberty Nell, Rediscovering Fire: Basic Economic Lessons from the Soviet Experiment to Eliminate the Market (2010).
John Cox Art, website

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