The Ecological Predicament and the Danger of Dictatorship*
It might have been otherwise in the past when books were few, but nowadays there seems to be more often than not an inverse relationship between the value and the volume of a book. Heilbroner’s books fit this rule of thumb. Any approximation to democracy, not to speak of the democratic and liberal welfare state, is a rare exception in the history of mankind; and there is no case of a large polity remaining democratic in the midst of protracted and widespread, let alone worsening, misery. The Communist states have the machinery for suppressing vast amounts of frustration and discontent. This capacity, however, is something very different from a superior ecological wisdom which Heilbroner sees as inherent in collectivist planning; although it is arguable that such a wisdom is more compatible with authoritarianism than with demagoguery. Much will depend on how fast the transition to a non-wasteful economy takes place.