summarize the main points of Thorstein Veblen and his critics of capitalism.
1. Veblen argued that “The patriotic spirit, or tie of nationalism, is evidently of the nature of habit.” He used a young clam to make his point, a funny and sarcastic comparison (p.94, 8th ed.). Do you agree with his assertion? Why or why not?
2. “In the USA, the most significant non-Marxist critique of late 19th century capitalism was penned by Thorstein Veblen,” K. Galbraith (whom we will study in the second half of the semester) wrote in the Introduction to Veblen’s Theory of the Leisure Class (1972 ed.). “That Marx was an enemy whose venom was to be returned in kind, capitalist did not doubt. But not Veblen. The American rich never quite understood what he was about—or what he was doing to them.” (p.94, 8th ed.). What are some of the problems that Veblen criticized? List at least three. Why did not capitalists know how to deal with Veblen?
3. Veblen adopted an evolutionary approach in his analysis of capitalism. During his time, Smith’s “undertakers” have grown to be monopolies and owners of multinational corporations dominating US economy. What are some of the advantages of using an evolutionary approach?
4. Who belong to the leisure class?
5. What is Conspicuous Consumption? What are the main incentives behind Conspicuous Consumption?
6. In his 1904 book, The Theory of Business Enterprises, Veblen distinguished the social function of making goods (industrial activities) versus making money (pecuniary activities). In terms of business and industry, which one makes goods? Which one makes money /profits?What is Veblen’s “industrial sabotage”?
7. What are the major differences between Veblen and Marx? Discuss them from the names of their respective classes and their approaches to Capitalism. Which theorist makes more sense to you?
8. How are Veblen’s critiques still relevant to post-2008 America or the world you are familiar with?
9. What are some of the insights that the behavioral economics could inform us? Show more
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