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The Wound and the Blessing
Economics, Relationships, and Happiness
by Luigino Bruni
Wealth cannot deliver happiness. This is a truism that needs exploring as we continue to live in the aftermath of the biggest economic crises Western economies have faced since The Great Depression. The more we earn, the more we work, the less happy we become. As someone who exchanged a successful business career for ordained ministry (exchanging also an 80% drop in income with a considerably enhanced sense of personal fulfilment), Bruni's book is an encouraging read. It is possible to benefit from the joys and rewards of the market without sacrificing others or us in the process.
Against the backdrop of Jacob's struggle with God (and Jacob's prior struggle with Esau) Bruni recognises the paradox of community "it consists of wounds and blessings, and this is no less true of our economic relationships. The key to success is to ensure that the 'other' ceases to be faceless… a good policy is one that can mediate reciprocity without preventing people from encountering each other out of fear, otherwise the 'embrace' of the other is lost. And without hugs we die!" (p110)
In effect Bruni appears to be an advocate for market capitalism on a human scale. Retaining the humanity at the heart of our economic relationships will not prevent us from getting hurt, but it will contribute to a recovery of community. I wonder though where the online economy fits in.
A difficult and specialist read, ably translated from its first publication in Italian in 2007.
Reviewer: David Ford (13/02/13)