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July 20 , 2008

The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy


Our planet is finite. Our political and economic systems were designed for an infinite planet. These difficult truths anchor the perceptive analysis offered in The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy. With wit, energy, and a lucid prose style, Eric Zencey identifies the key elements of “infinite planet” thinking that underlie our economics and our politics—and shows how they must change. Zencey’s title evokes F. A. Hayek, who argued that any attempt to set overall limits to free markets—any attempt at centralized planning—is “the road to serfdom.” But Hayek’s argument works only if the planet is infinite. If Hayek is right that planning and democracy are irreducibly in conflict, Zencey argues, then on a finite planet, “free markets operated on infinite planet principles are just the other road to serfdom.”
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The alternative is ecological economics, an emergent field that accepts limits to what humans can accomplish economically on a finite planet. Zencey explains this new school of thought and applies it to current political and economic concerns: the financial collapse, terrorism, population growth, hunger, the energy and oil industry’s social control, and the deeply rooted dissatisfactions felt by conservative “values” voters who have been encouraged to see smaller government and freer markets as the universal antidote. What emerges is a coherent vision, a progressive and hopeful alternative to neoconservative economic and political theory—a foundation for an economy that meets the needs of the 99% and just might help save civilization from ecological and political collapse.
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