My book The Economics of Enough was recently published in both Italy and China (as well as in English in paperback), and I’ve been struck (again) by how differently people read the same book. This is true of individuals but also of national cultures.
When I spoke about the book last weekend at the book festival Pordenonelegge, my Italian interviewer Emanuele Bompan was most interested in the political economy questions: how can politics become more able to address long-term problems? what is the role of technocrats? how can western welfare states handle their second demographic transition, to ageing and shrinking populations? By contrast, the review in the Shanghai Daily questions my argument that economic growth and sustainability can and have to be combined, and concludes:
“This essentially flawed conception prevents her from identifying the true malaise of capitalism. To sum up, her proposal about how to bring about a better balance between the present and the future is seriously limited by her assessment of the Western way of life, to which she is so attached.”
Many of us of a certain age were strongly influenced by John Berger’s classic Ways of Seeing. There are Ways of Reading, too.