Magazine article New Internationalist

A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things

Magazine article New Internationalist

A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things

Article excerpt

A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things by Raj Patel and Jason W Moore (Verso, ISBN 9781788732130)

These days world histories seem to need a big idea up on the marquee to lure in the tentative audience. Whether the story is hinged on a supposedly crucial date or single commodity, the reader is given a simple lodestone to help us chart our way through the complexities of human development. In their attempt to give us no less than 'A Guide to Capitalism, Nature and the Future of the Planet' Raj Patel and Jason W Moore have hit on an intriguing idea for their jumping-offpoint: the concept of 'cheapness'. They build their narrative on seven 'cheap' things that have shaped our societies and that will dictate our future; nature, money, work, care, food, energy, and lives. For the authors' purposes cheapness does not merely signify low cost, although that is part of the story; rather it betokens degraded value and squandered resources, both natural and human. …

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