A growing inequality in income and wealth marks modern capitalism, and it negatively affects nearly every aspect of our lives, especially those of the working class. It is and will continue to be the central issue of politics in almost every nation on earth. In this book, the author explains inequality in clear, passionate, and intelligent prose: what it is, why it matters, how it affects us, what its underlying causes are, and what we might do about it. This book was written to encourage informed radical action by working people, the unemployed, and the poor, uniquely blending the author’s own experiences with his ability to make complex issues comprehensible to a mass audience. This book will be excellent for courses in a variety of disciplines, and it will be useful to activists and the general reading public.
Table of Contents
1. Inequality Casts a Long Shadow
2. The Great Inequality
3. All the Economics You Need to Know in One Lesson
4. Markets are the Problem, Not the Solution
5. Work is Hell
6. The Injuries of Class
7. It’s Still Slavery by Another Name
8. The Ghosts of Karl Marx and Edward Abbey
10. OWS and the Importance of Political Slogans
11. The Growing Degradation of Work and Life and What We Might Do to End It
12. Global Inequality
Michael D. Yates is a writer, editor, and labor educator. He is currently associate editor of Monthly Review magazine and editorial director of Monthly Review Press. He served as professor of economics at University of Pittsburgh-Johnstown from 1969-2001 and adjunct professor of labor studies at UMass-Amherst from 1998-2014. He and his wife Karen Korenoski have been traveling the United States for the past fourteen years. These travels are recounted in his book Cheap Motels and a Hot Plate: an Economist's Travelogue.
"It is suddenly in fashion to decry inequality and its impact on society and the global economy. But Michael Yates has been warning us about growing inequality for years, and explaining how it is not just an inconvenient side effect of poorly managed capitalism but rather part of its very core. Capitalism by definition is unjust. Once again Michael Yates provides a clear, timely, and powerful book explaining our economy, dissecting varieties of mainstream economic thought, and inspiring readers to fight for a more just world."
Stephanie Luce, Professor of Labor Studies, Murphy Institute/CUNY and Professor of Sociology, The Graduate Center CUNY
"One of the many things I've always admired about Michael Yates is his courage. Yates has the guts to go inside the belly of the beast and return with a tale as stark and immediate as Dante's descent into the Inferno. His vitally important book The Great Inequality is nothing less than a necropsy of the collateral damage inflicted by unfettered capitalism, detailing in vivid prose how a predatory economic system has wrecked communities, immiserated lives, looted the environment and subverted our democracy. But Yates never submits to fatalism. His book is an alarum for our attenuated times, piercing through the white noise of the media, calling us off our couches and onto the streets."
Jeffrey St. Clair, editor CounterPunch, author of Born Under a Bad Sky.
"As economists and pundits make glib pronouncements about the inevitability, the immorality, or the paradox of inequality, Michael Yates lays bare the real source: capitalism. In crystal clear prose, he demonstrates that the system we are currently burdened with produces inequality in all realms of social life, resulting in a prolonged social death not only for the exploited class but for the planet as a whole. Read this book. Heed its warning. Our very survival may depend on it."
Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination
"This is another fine book by Michael Yates. The Great Inequality is an account of the roots of the momentous rising inequality we are witnessing today, which it describes as the 'consequence of uncontested employer power.' Yates' timely prescription is not so much focused on policy changes (although he discusses these aplenty) as it is on the need for a particular kind or orientation of action in solidarity: we need 'radical change, with black America in the lead.' Read this book if you want to understand the present and perhaps help change the future."
Eric Schutz, Prof. Emeritus, Rollins College
"In a series of essays, he takes stock of the human and environmental costs of growing inequality, and zeroes in on its root causes. In the process, he offers a valuable primer to both newcomers and experienced activists for how to make the case for a better world."
Leela Yellesetty, SocialistWorker.org
"The Great Inequality is classic Yates. It combines a critique of national and global economic trends that’s highly readable and accessible for non-experts, with a call to action by the latter."
Steve Early, Counterpunch
The scope and range of Yates’s work in The Great Inequality should be compelling to a broad spectrum of readers, particularly in his varying use of style and the interweaving of narratives. This flexible approach is telling of the book’s wider purpose, not only to participate in academic conversation but to inspire new audiences to engage with a more critical understanding of present inequalities. After all, only through a wider critical comprehension of our present world-system can we hope to make a more equitable and egalitarian future for all.
Wasafiri Journal of International Contemporary Writing, 2018