The Useless Man A Political Economy of Populism Publication date : February 4, 2021
Today, the “wretched of the earth” are no longer those oppressed by colonization, but rather the unemployed and the working poor, migrants and refugees, landless peasants depending on public or familial assistance to survive—in a word, the economically useless.
Uselessness is the most pernicious form of inequality, because it drives these men and women into traps of poverty from which escape is all but impossible.
Drawing on economic theory, political philosophy, and demographic and scientific projections on human population and natural resources throughout the twenty-first century, renowned economist and author Pierre-Noël Giraud exposes the alarming ways that the rise of uselessness defined as such—not only lack of value in a labor market, but also the inability to independently improve one’s own standing—fuels the global resurgence of populism, engendering social and political risks from demagoguery and intolerance to mass migrations and civil war.
Like environmental change, economic uselessness is a reality from which nations and societies can no longer hide—and it is this urgency that may show us the way forward. The Useless Man concludes with a series of carefully reasoned recommendations concerning nature and climate, globalization, and finance, all evaluating potential public policies by how effectively they stand to stem the growth of uselessness.
A lucid assessment of our current geopolitical situation and a stirring forecast of what will happen if we fail to act quickly and collaboratively on a global scale, The Useless Man is an essential, compassionate addition to the debate around economic inequality and its political consequences.
Pierre-Noël Giraud is professor of economics at Mines ParisTech, Paris Dauphine University, and the EMINES School of Industrial Management in Morocco, as well as a member of the National Academy of Technologies of France. He is the author of a number of landmark books on economics, of which The Useless Man is the first published in English.