American society is a culture of paradoxes. Never has a country produced such great abundance, yet never have we had to work such long hours to sustain a quality of life marred by corporate exploitation and senseless consumerism. Collectively, our middle class possesses massive wealth, yet we are currently powerless to effect substantial change in both the capitalist or democratic systems. We have irresponsibly destroyed the world's natural resources, yet--as in the past--our "daring innovation" may help resolve the calamitous ecological crisis we have created in the first place. In his sixth book, The Soul of Capitalism: Opening Paths to a Moral Economy, William Greider attempts to discover "how and why our brilliant economic system collides with so many of society's broader aspirations and regularly frustrates them." How did these paradoxes develop and how will they be redressed? Greider flatly states that his intention is not to discuss a utopian ideal, but rather to relate his "conviction that the arrangements within capitalism can be changed, little by little, to make more space for life through innovations that eventually become common practice."
Greider creates a sobering picture of the obstacles we must overcome if we are ever to re-establish "an authentic democracy," one that truly serves the values of the majority and not just the wealthy few and the status quo. Indeed his descriptions of the deleterious effects of capitalism on the environment, the American workforce (white and blue collar alike), and the very fabric of American life expose an urgent need for change. Greider maintains that the strength of the capitalist system is its adaptability. Therefore, despite his frank admission that substantial change will be difficult and a long time in coming, his catalogue of small successes and localized reform initiatives lend credibility to his hopeful claim that "the corporate institution is ripe for reinvention." --Silvana Tropea [via]