Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism

Book review by Deane Barker tags: business

This was my second partial abandon of the year. I actually read half of it, then skimmed the rest.

The author is an English/literature professor, and he seeks to prove that capitalism has corrupted many words in our society. So, words that meant one thing have been “stolen” by capitalism and their definition changed to more suit what capitalism wants. Words like ecosystem, innovation, lean, collaborate, market etc.

I don’t disagree with his premise, but this is another book that might have been a blog post. I think would have rather preferred just have a table which showed the word, what it used to mean, and what it means now. In this book, we get a full (albeit short) chapter about the word.

And he’s an literature prof, so the writing is…wordy? It’s not matter-of-fact, which takes me back to the claim that I would have just preferred a table of the words.

What I did was read to the 50% point, then I skimmed the rest. For each chapter, I acknowledged the word, and skimmed until I found the basic idea of his objection to its redefinition. The author seems to be somewhere on the Marxism/Socialism scale, so his objection to each word wasn’t really that hard to pick out (or predict, for that matter).

I want to stress that I don’t disagree with his premise, and it really does give me a lot to think about. I won’t read the “offending” words the same way in the future. I’m just not sure I needed an entire book about it.

PS: There’s a website, out of which the book grew, apparently.

Book Info

John Patrick Leary

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