Academic activist and author Raj Patel visited Elon University on Sept 28. for a lecture based on his book The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy. In his discussion Patel probed the nation’s economic structure, explored the economic collapse, and illustrated how achieving a fairer society and sustainable economy are possible.
Oscar Wilde’s observation that “nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing” introduces us to Patel’s views on the free market and how corporate control and a democratically bankrupt political system have caused national and global economies to swing out of balance.
Patel suggests that the larger failure beneath food, climate and environmental crises may be a political one. While economics is traditionally illustrated as a series of choices, it isn’t often said who gets to make them. A fresh and accessible understanding is needed in order to create a sustainable economy and society.
Currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies, and a fellow at The Institute for Food and Development Policy, Patel received degrees from the University of Oxford, the London School of Economics and Cornell University. He is also the author of Stuffed and Starved: The Hidden Battle for the World Food System and has contributed to The Guardian, The Los Angeles Times, New York Times and The Observer.
The Liberal Arts Forum is a student organization that brings guests to the Elon campus to engage campus conversations about current interdisciplinary topics.