Monday, 15 October 2012

John Kenneth Galbraith on the Moral Justifications for Wealth and Inequality

A 1977 documentary series written and hosted by John Kenneth Galbraith. This segment, “The Manners and Morals of High Capitalism,” discusses how the rising bourgeoisie and the new rich justified their lofty status. Kings could rely on God and the Great Chain of Being for their authority, but what about mere capitalists? Galbraith reviews the views of some of the leading defenders of this new order, and shows how their ideas have influenced our views.

Galbraith makes quite a few deadpan observations and gently pulls apart the social Darwinism that permitted the wealthy to be the innocent beneficiaries of their own superiority.

Via the excellent Naked Capitalism

The Age of Uncertainty is a 1977 television series about economics, history and politics, co-produced by the BBC, CBC, KCET and OECA, and written and presented by Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith.

Galbraith acknowledges the successes of the market system in economics but associated it with instability, inefficiency and social inequity. He advocates government policies and interventions to remedy these perceived faults

The content of the series was determined by Galbraith, with the presentation style directed by his colleagues in the BBC. Galbraith began by writing a series of essays from which the scripts were derived and from these a book by the same name, emerged which in many places goes beyond the material covered in the relevant television episode.