The Value Of Nothing

How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy

Raj Patel

Published: 6 January 2011
Paperback, B Format
129x198mm, 176 pages
ISBN: 9781846272189


'Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing.'

Credit has crunched, debt has turned toxic, the gears of the world economy have ground to a halt. Yet despite its failures, the same market-driven ideas are being applied to everything from famine to climate change. We need to ask again one of the most fundamental questions a society ever addresses: why do things cost what they do? Radical, original, nimbly argued, The Value of Nothing draws on ideas from history, philosophy, psychology and agriculture to show how we can build an economically and environmentally sound future.

About the author

Image of Raj Patel

Raj Patel was educated at Oxford, the LSE, and Cornell. A former fellow at Yale and Berkeley, he now holds a Visiting Fellowship at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He has worked for the World Bank, interned at the WTO, consulted for the UN, and protested against his former employers. He is one of only a few activists trusted to work with the Via Campesina peasant movement. His first book was Stuffed & Starved. More about the author


‘[A] penetrating and admirably concise guide to the follies of market fundamentalism’ John Gray



‘A deeply thought-provoking book about the dramatic changes we must make to save the planet from financial madness - argued with so much humour and humanity that the enormous tasks ahead feel both doable and desirable. This is Raj Patel's great gift: he makes even the most radical ideas seem not only reasonable, but inevitable. Brilliant’

‘A whirlwind tour through the current economic crisis with Patel asking: "Why do things cost what they do?" then providing the key to understanding the mess we're in and the radical changes that must be made to prepare the way for a better system’ Sue Baker

‘I'm glad Patel wrote this book. His moral philosophy has much to commend it’ Iain Macwhirter

‘Not just another credit-crunch book, Patel asks us to go beyond the banking crisis and examine the real cost of goods and services. A great companion piece to Chris Anderson's Free, Patel reveals the distorted prices and compromised values at the heart of contemporary society’

‘Patel combines sociology and neuroeconomics to ask the most fundamental question of the season: why do things cost what they do?’

‘Patel describes vividly the activity of global corporations and how their aim to realise maximum profit is ecologically harmful’ Phil Sharpe

‘Raj Patel takes an axe to the ideology of market fundamentalism in this broad-ranging polemic ... Patel has written a bang up-to-date, tightly argued and timely study that deserves to be read by anyone concerned with the state of the world today’ Ian Sinclair

‘This is a fascinating and useful book about the problems caused by using the market to value everything in our world ... Patel quotes the Zapatistas in saying "preguntando caminamos" - questioning, we walk. It's a useful way to think about radical politics, and this book should encourage more people to do just that’ James O’Nions

‘Thought-provoking reading at a time when, as Oscar Wilde once said, we seem to know the price of everything and the value of nothing’ Caroline Sanderson

‘Through a shrewd and absorbing discussion, Patel exposes the flaws in the "model of the world in which people are ... prepared to override their own better judgment in service of their selfish natures"’

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