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John McDermott (2004): Economics in real time: a theoretical reconstruction.x + 217 pages, including index, University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI This book addresses some of the complexities of a modern market society, and proposes a new theoretical approach that accommodates these realities. This concern for realism and relevance, combined with a strong acknowledgement that consumption and production are processes rather than instantaneous events, will immediately attract the sympathy of the readers of this journal. But unfortunately, the book is a failure, for reasons that I shall outline below.
John McDermott’s approach is unmistakenly Marxist, with Joseph Schumpeter as an additional claimed influence (p. viii). But he proposes that the nature of the consumption process has changed since the nineteenth century. He sees Karl Marx’s Capital as relating to the ‘Victorian adolescence of capitalism’ and claims that the theory has to be updated to take account of modern conditions.