NS Book Review by Randy Brich: FERRARIS FOR ALL: IN DEFENCE OF ECONOMIC PROGRESS by Daniel Ben-Ami

By Randy Brich

Imagine a world where everyone lives up to their potential and creates an environment that satisfies all of their material wants.  What would such a world look like? 

Although the specifics are fuzzy, it is certain that this world of the future would run on an environmentally friendly power source, like nuclear, which would provide inexpensive energy to propel the machines of commerce.  And there are a lot of machines that require power to function, from the Mac upon which I’m typing this review to practically every modern convenience known to the western world. FERRARIS FOR ALL: IN DEFENCE OF ECONOMIC PROGRESS

According to Daniel Ben-Ami, in his first book, Ferraris For All:  In Defence of Economic Progress, the original proponent of socialism, Karl Marx, theoretically favored such a world where the masses lived lives of plenty -- essentially equal to the ruling classes of the time.  However, as Ben-Ami astutely points out, socialism led to the exact opposite condition in practically every case. 

Ben-Ami fast forwards to today’s modern world and dissects the green movement like a skilled comparative anatomist identifying similarities and differences to its historical predecessor, socialism.  Ferraris For All is a wonderful work worthy as a text in any university class seeking to analyze the driving forces behind the contemporary green movement which has morphed into growth skepticism.  What once had been an attempt to move people up in the world has transformed into a no growth, no progress, no prosperity, dimensionless and unimaginable sustainable living philosophy devoid of reason, logic, and compassion. 

Ben-Ami distinguishes between Deep Ecology, as invented by Gaia Hypothesis advocate J.E. Lovelock, and politically-active Greens who champion an ill-defined sustainability platform that truly boggles the mind.  When everything must be sustainable, as Ben-Ami points out the Greens demand, nothing is sustainable – at least not for very long.   

Wrapped in catch phrases like ‘environmental justice,’ ‘equality’ and ‘fairness,’ the philosophy of the Greens draws the naïve and true believers like  moths to a flame.  And, like the proverbial moth that incinerates itself in the flame, those drawn to the Green Movement cease to live -- dying while yet still breathing -- a leech on the productive entities still powering the greater society.   

Ben-Ami defines growth skepticism thusly (with conservative strictly defined in the historical sense): 

Overall growth scepticism is a key expression of contemporary social pessimism.  It is a malaise that embodies a deep fear of social change and particularly anything presented as progress.  Although it presents itself as humanistic, radical and even anti-capitalist, it is a deeply conservative force.  To the extent that it is anti-capitalist it is romantic and backward looking. Growth scepticism expresses a fear of the future and ultimately, a loathing of humanity.

In their binary world, growth skeptics and their political and mainstream media enablers fail to grasp the obvious complexities associated with their philosophy of self-sufficiency.  Self-sufficiency, as Ben-Ami opines, is a thing of the past, while prosperity and progress will lead us to the future.  A future that if embraced, Ben-Ami confidently predicts, will enhance the quality of life for the vast majority of humanity both in the west and elsewhere around the world. 

In short, Ferraris For All rebuts the argument of the growth skeptics by using a wide range of examples from many different countries.  Ben-Ami asserts that enhanced affluence benefits all of society, not just the rich.  As such, the author further argues that instead of limiting prosperity, action needs to be taken to promote ingenuity and development thereby eliminating the many real problems associated with poverty.   

If you’re looking for one book to help you make sense of the environmental movement and what it portends for the future, Ferraris For All might just be that rare piece of intellectual creativity that all brings it all into focus. 

Ferraris For All: In Defence of Economic Progress
Daniel Ben-Ami
Bloomsbury Press, New York, 2010, 259 pp
ISBN: 978-1-60819-165-9

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