Naming the System: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy, by Michael D. Yates. New York: Monthly Review Press. 2003. Paper, ISBN 1583670793, $16.95; cloth, ISBN 1583670807, $75.00. 288 pages.
In Praise of Resistance
The mediocrity of the giant corporate book publishers may be on the rise, but many independent publishers are resisting the trend. Not only are many of the university presses putting out great books, but many of the independent houses are, too. Free inquiry does continue, in spite of the main drift. This Monthly Review Press book by Michael D. Yates is a wonderful example of some of the best that is being done. It is a powerful Marxist critique of contemporary capitalism and of contemporary economic theory. Students will find it readable because it is well written, and they will find it stimulating because it blends fact, theory, and evaluation into a hard-hitting critique of economic and social injustice. It would serve well as a supplementary text in intermediate macro, international trade, or economic development courses. It would be a good main text in a Marxist political economy course.
In Praise of Innovation
This is an innovative book. First, it is printed with a series of split-page vignettes that usually run for a few paragraphs. The vignettes are separated from the continuing text of the book, so they do not break the conversational flow of the narrative. This makes the vignettes very helpful to students because they tell great stories, they describe concepts such as full employment and the long run, they give examples of points made in the text, and they explain institutions such as the WTO, IMF, and World Bank. All of this supporting and filling out is done without interrupting the main flow of the narrative.
A second innovative element of the book is the frequent citation of Web sites and the discussion of Internet sources. The new world of the Internet is thoroughly integrated into the book, introducing the reader to a whole new world of Internet organizations and scholarly sources.
A third innovative element is a chapter-by-chapter discussion of sources and suggested readings contained in an endnote section of the book. Some of the other books on my shelves also contain such discussions, but far too few of them do a good job. Yates does a good job of introducing the student reader to the contemporary critical literature. He avoids trying to impress with a long, erudite treatise for each chapter. Instead, he...