Synopses & Reviews
"From class struggle to crass struggle; that is the defining feature of the times. And the genius of today's political economy has been to convert what used to be a potential life-and-death conflict between haves and have-nots into a minor disagreement between have-lots and wanna-have-mores." Why do those who are extremely well off spend their money in socially and environmentally damaging ways? How do crooks, con artists, and counterfeiters function in the hypercharged markets catering to the whims and fancies of the very rich? And why do so many of the less fortunate insist on slavishly emulating the über rich, spending way beyond what their limited means allow? A critique of the lifestyles of today's ultra rich bolstered by old-fashioned muckraking, Crass Struggle provides a sharp, original, and often humorous commentary on "the bad side of the good life, the underbelly of the potbelly." Taking the reader inside today's luxury trades, R.T. Naylor visits gold mines spewing arsenic and diamond fields spreading human misery, knocks on the doors of purveyors of luxury seafood as the oceans empty, samples wares of merchants offering top-vintage wines (or at least top-vintage labels), calls on companies running trophy-hunting expeditions and dealers in exotic pets high on endangered lists, and much more. What stands out is that so many high-priced items glitter on the outside, but have more than a spot of rot at the core. Through a series of outrageous but all too true stories, Crass Struggle reveals the appalling consequences of consumerism run amok and its links to repetitive financial swindles and the alarming degradation of the biophysical environment.
"My parents survived the Great Depression and taught me my most important lesson: "Work hard to earn money for the necessities in life. Don't think having lots of money or stuff makes you a better or more important person than anyone else." This book documents the incredible lengths to which people will go to acquire obscene levels of wealth. Lies, theft, murder, social and ecological devastation become means to satisfy greed. Naylor's documentation is both fascinating and horrifying and helps us understand, for example, the ludicrous subprime bubble that burst in 2008." David Suzuki
"This is a fabulous book - an engaging, fascinating, and provocative account of how upper class consumer tastes fuel underworld economies across the globe, with devastating consequences. There is no other book quite like it." Peter Andreas, Brown University
"It's a brilliant strategy: focusing not on their depredations, but their pretensions (...) I present this as an early suggestion for a Christmas present, in the tradition of jumping the gun on the season and in the rapacious spirit that motivates Naylor (to write, not accumulate). It's an appropriate gift to any of the 99 per cent." Rick Salutin, The Toronto Star
An original and cutting commentary on the bad side of the good life.
About the Author
R.T. Naylor is professor of economics at McGill University. His books include Satanic Purses, Wages of Crime, Patriots and Profiteers, and Hot Money and the Politics of Debt.