Werner Plumpe, born in 1954 in Bielefeld, is a professor of economics and social history at the Johann Wolfgang von Goethe University in Frankfurt. He was chairman of the German Association of Historians until 2012. Since 2010 he has written three books on economic crises, how he became rich and on the Great Depression. Werner Plumpe also received the 2014 Ludwig Erhard Prize awarded for writing on economic issues.
A COLD HEART: THE HISTORY AND FUTURE OF CAPITALISM
Capitalism: Past and Future
Even before the financial crisis it had become fashionable to make capitalism responsible for just about everything that went wrong anywhere in the world. Renowned economic historian Werner Plumpe repudiates this view by walking us through the history of capitalism and showing how many problems have been solved by the capitalist market economy alone. Capitalism isn’t a system, he explains, but a kind of economy which focusses on consumption, the consumption, in fact, of those who are not well off and for centuries were left to fend for themselves. Without them, economically successful mass production would be impossible. This was widely criticised at first, yet Plumpe shows how the capitalist way of managing the economy reacted and is able to change constantly.
As an idea, capitalism has had more profound consequences than perhaps any other; we can’t escape it even if we refuse to engage with it. There’s no evil, nefarious plot at its core, nor is it the sum of all the negative phenomena concomitant with our form of society. Plumpe describes capitalism as a constant state of revolution, as embodying continual innovation and renewal that is as good or bad as we choose. Capitalism is and always was what we make of it.
› Is capitalism making a few people richer and many poorer? Or is it continually making more people less poor? A stunning analyses with surprising answers.
› Plumpe’s previous title on German economic and business history was sold to the US (Palgrave).