23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism
By Ha-Joon Chang
Review by Agatha (PPE)
This is a great book to read if you’re thinking about making an application for PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) or another degree involving Politics or Economics. 23 Things is an easy to read, lucid book and a great choice regardless of whether or not you’re doing an A Level in Economics. The book has something for everyone. If you want to discover why the world is so unequal, this is the book for you. If you’re interested in understanding more about the finance world, this is the book for you. If you don’t even know what capitalism is, this is the book for you!
This is a perfect book to help you put Economics against other disciplines such as Politics or Philosophy. For example, in one of the early chapters Chang questions whether Economics is as objective as we think, as what we define as the “free market” has changed over the past as a result of political influence. Chang also challenges the reader to challenge orthodox views, such as the western ideal that capitalism is the most supreme of economic systems.
This is an ideal book for three reasons. Firstly, 23 Things is structured in a personal statement friendly way; the book is divided into 23 short & concise chapters, and each chapter has a short introduction that summarises what the chapter will cover. This is great because you can choose the order in which you want to read the book and read the chapters that you think are most interesting. Secondly, the book is so varied in the range of topics it covers that you should be able to find links between 23 Things and other books you’ve read. Finally, the fact that Chang presents his arguments in a didactic way means that if you’re asked about what you think about the book at an interview, you’ll have sufficient understanding of the topics mentioned to form an opinion and not feel the need to bluff.
My three reasons why you should read 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism: interesting, personal statement friendly, PPE friendly.
I hope you enjoy reading 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism as much as I did!
Review by Nidhi (PPE)
23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism is a legendary masterpiece written by Ha-Joon Chang which aims to educate the general public about the dangers of neo-liberal capitalist structures in modern society, engaging strongly with current affairs. Chang argues that free-market principles are dangerous for the economy, and the economics of John Maynard Keynes in particular rescued the world from the 2008 financial crisis and paved the emergence of ‘miracle’ economies that deviated away from such dangerous free-market capitalism. This forced me to consider the complex nature of economics due to the failure of free-market doctrines, and how the traditional theory that consumers are rational decision-makers has been challenged by the financial meltdown of 2008.
This was an engaging read not only because it featured striking chapters such as ‘The economy does not pay people what they deserve to earn’ to the fundamental idea that ‘It is not capitalism that is the problem, but the way we design it.’, but crucially because I was able to apply this knowledge to real life events playing out before me. I gained a perceptive insight into what truly makes economies successful. The realisation that capitalism isn’t at fault for our problems, but the way we design it is, truly allowed me to engage with economics and politics on a deeper level and forced me to question the validity of traditional economic theories. Chang’s engaging conversational style makes it an enjoyable and efficient read and cuts straight to the point – establishing 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism as a highly acclaimed piece of literature.
23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang