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Capitalism: a six-part series
Episode 3: Ricardo and Malthus: Did You Say Freedom?
By Ilan Ziv
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"To see weeds grow where we used to build things that were in every General Motors vehicle is just terrible."Art Reyes, electrician and former GM employee, Flint, Michigan

In Flint, Michigan, a weed-strewn lot is all that's left of a factory that once employed over 10,000 people. In Haiti, cheap subsidized American rice has flooded the market, forcing local producers out of business and into the capital, Port-au-Prince, where they struggle to find work. In Ghana, the International Monetary Fund's "structural adjustment" has meant selling public assets to foreign investors and a market flooded with cheap imports.

All of these events can be traced back to the thinking of two men born in the 18th century: David Ricardo and Thomas Malthus.

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Ricardo was a stockbroker who developed the notion of comparative advantage: that countries should specialize and meet each other's needs through trade. Malthus was the demographer who feared a population explosion would cause the world to run out of food by 1890, and worked with Ricardo to eliminate public assistance for the poor in order to create a mobile and motivated workforce.

Together, they would restructure society in the image of the market. But the origins of international trade are far from free. They involved heavy subsidies, market protection, and the barrels of guns pointed at recalcitrant nations.

Featuring economics superstar Thomas Piketty, former WTO Director-General Pascal Lamie, former IMF chief economist Simon Johnson, sociologist David Graeber, and others. View the complete list of storytellers.

  

53 minutes / color
Closed Captioned
Release: 2015
Copyright: 2014
Sale: $498

The CAPITALISM series consists of six (6) episodes on three (3) DVDs that are packaged and sold together as one unit.

Subject areas:
Business, Business Ethics, Business and Economics, Economics, Economic Sociology, Europe (West), Globalization, Historiography, History (World), Labor Studies, Philosophy, Political Science, Political Theory, Politics, Sociology

Related Links:
The Storytellers of Capitalism
The Films of Ilan Ziv


Capitalism / Episode 3 / Clip

Related Titles:
Capitalism: An ambitious but accessible six-part series that looks at both the history of ideas and the social forces that have shaped the capitalist world.

Episode 1: Capitalism is much more complex than the vision Adam Smith laid out in The Wealth of Nations. Indeed, it predates Smith by centuries and is rooted in practices of colonialism and the slave trade.

Episode 2: Adam Smith was both economist and moral philosopher. But his work on morality is largely forgotten, leading to tragic distortions that have shaped our global economic system.

Episode 4: Have we gotten Marx wrong by focusing on the Communist Manifesto instead of on his critique of how capitalism works - a critique that is relevant and as penetrating as ever?

Episode 5: The ideological divide between the philosophies of John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek has dominated economics for nearly a century. Is it time for the pendulum to swing back to Keynes? Or do we need a whole new approach that goes beyond this dualism?

Episode 6: An exploration of the life and work of Karl Polanyi, who sought to reintegrate society and economy. Could the commodification of labour and money ultimately be as disastrous as floods, drought and earthquakes?

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Last Updated September 25, 2015
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