Controversial in its approach, monumental in its scope – this book is the crowning achievement of a distinguished academic career by one of South Africa’s most respected senior economists. Sampie Terreblanche takes a critical look at how social and economic inequality became entrenched in the current world order dominated by Western powers since the 1500s.
The book details how five centuries of Western empire-building shaped our society into the deeply unequal and gratuitously unjust place that it is today. It also teaches us that every empire is unsustainable and the remaining industrial countries in the West are weaker than most people think. Because unrestrained capitalism lies at the root of their weakness, these empires will not last.
The author shows how growing income inequality, environmental damage and increasingly higher financial market risks have impaired our ability to establish a society built on a long-term and sustainable developmental model. In order to remedy the brokenness of our current system, we have to understand the economic, social and political drivers that brought us here.
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Sampie Terreblanche obtained his DPhil in Economics from the University of Stellenbosch in 1963. He also attended Harvard University and, at twenty-three, began teaching at the University of the Orange Free State. He spent the lion's share of his teaching career at the University of Stellenbosch, where he retired as Professor of Economics in 1995 and was appointed as Professor Emeritus the following year. He was awarded honorary doctorates by the University of the Free State in 2005 and by the University of Pretoria in 2013. Professor Terreblanche participated in numerous international conferences and was hosted by the governments of Belgium, Britain and the USA. He was a Visiting Professor at Princeton, Columbia and the University of Santa Cruz, California. In the 1970s, Terreblanche sat on the seminal Theron Commission into chronic poverty of the coloured community of the Western Cape. He has been an increasingly vocal critic, first of the apartheid government and then the democratic South African government because of the failure of the state to address inequality. Terreblanche is the author of twelve books, including Politieke ekonomie en sosiale welvaart (Political Economics and Social Prosperity) (1986) and A History of Inequality in South Africa: 1952-2002 (2002). He has also written more than thirty articles for journals and chapters in books, and hundreds of articles and letters in the consumer press.
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