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New Review of “Life After Capitalism” Amplifies Book’s Core Themes

Returning to the "mind-centered economy" where knowledge is wealth

A new review of George Gilder’s latest book Life After Capitalism from Samuel Gregg highlights the need for the return of the “mind-centered economy,” in which governmental bureaucracies no longer hamper human creativity and imagination. When capitalistic, democratic societies fall for materialistic presuppositions of the world, they end up resembling socialist contexts in which the state is everything and individual men and women are squelched. Gregg writes at the Acton power blog,

[Gilder]takes this notion of the free human mind as the decisive factor in driving economic growth and applies it across the board to economic theory, technology, and our understanding of money. Looking at the question of incentives, for example, Gilder points out that they would yield nothing in terms of human action if there were not a creative mind capable of imagination that preceded them. “As you cannot understand the mind or even the body by pondering physics and chemistry,” he writes, “you cannot understand economics without explaining entrepreneurial creativity.”

From this standpoint, we understand that wealth is ultimately about knowledge rather than our possession of things or even how we arrange our possession of things. We also start to recognize that government efforts to deliver predetermined outcomes cannot help but “suppress surprise, block information, inhibit knowledge, and thereby destroy wealth.” That is especially the case when government regulation effectively discourages innovation.

-Samuel Gregg, Getting Back to a Mind-Centered Economy – Religion & Liberty Online (acton.org)

The problem, as Gregg notes and Gilder identifies, is that economic activity is being increasingly relegated into the hands of politically connected banks as well as politicians and public officials. When the government keeps printing money, as it did in profligate measure during the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy stagnates, since there’s no value in money when it isn’t tied to production.

The main rub is this: human imagination and creativity spur economic growth. Gregg sums it up well:

Gilder is not a pessimist. For what pervades this book is Gilder’s confidence in free human beings and the creativity that is theirs by nature. Part of this is a question of humanity’s possession of reason and free will. Yet just as important from Gilder’s standpoint is the gift of human imagination. Even in the worst conditions and the absence of economic incentives, it is impossible to stop men and women from seeing in their minds as yet unimagined possibilities for themselves and those they love. As long as we maintain faith in that uniquely human capacity, we need never resign ourselves to the mediocrity of life after capitalism. 

Consider purchasing Gilder’s book to learn about his ideas in greater depth, and visit Discovery Institute’s webpage to see the manifold ways knowledge and creativity is translating into a better world for everyone.

Peter Biles

Writer and Editor, Center for Science & Culture
Peter Biles graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He is a prolific fiction writer and has written stories and essays for a variety of publications. He was born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma and is a contributing writer and editor for Mind Matters.

New Review of “Life After Capitalism” Amplifies Book’s Core Themes