In This Review

From Subsistence to Exchange and Other Essays
From Subsistence to Exchange and Other Essays
By Peter Bauer
Princeton University Press, 2000, 153 pp

Bauer is one of those figures who, over his long career, has shifted from the fringe of social thought to the mainstream -- not because he changed his views, but because others came increasingly to accept or at least respect them. Ever the iconoclast, he questions the negative effects of population growth, the efficacy of foreign aid, European (or Western) responsibility for poverty in the "Third World" (an appellation he rightly objects to), the alleged elitism of English society, and the Vatican's economic doctrine, to mention only a sample. At the same time, he insists on the importance of the market as a mechanism for exchanging goods, information, and ideas and creating new opportunities for the participants and their suppliers. Whether or not the reader agrees with his positions, they are carefully and thoughtfully argued. As such, they stimulate a clearer, if more troubled, understanding rather than comfortable acceptance of the conventional wisdom.