Reality as we know it is decreed solely on the basis of im
bechukosai teileichu or ve'im bechukosai tim'osu, chas
vesholom. This applies not only to the state of national
security (venosati sholom bo'Oretz), but to day-to-day
economics as well.
When we follow the Law, Hashem blesses us and all goes well.
The rains fall in the winter (venosati gishmeichem
be'itom), trees bloom in the fields (eitz hasodeh
nosein piryo), the Land issues its bounty (venosno
ho'Oretz yevuloh) and people have plenty to eat
(ve'achaltem lachmechem losova, see Rashi).
But if chas vesholom our conduct degenerates, He
causes Creation to degenerate and withholds His bounty. For
if we do not hearken to His word (ve'im lo sishme'u
li), the efforts we have made will benefit our enemies
(vezar'eisem lorik zar'achem va'acholuhu oiveichem).
Under such circumstances, not only do trees not yield fruit,
but even what does grow will not sustain us (va'achaltem
A new book has been making waves throughout the Western
world. Written by a French writer named V. Forester, The
Economic Curse shatters one myth after another,
challenging assumptions prevalent in modern economics and
warning of a social and moral holocaust liable to befall
The book, translated into several languages, has become an
international bestseller with more than a million copies
sold. Now it has been translated into Hebrew and published by
Shocken, offering a new perspective to Israeli readers
enchanted by New Economics, which promised to make a better,
more prosperous world.
The book implicates the media and political apparatuses of
developed nations in a great sham made up of false promises
for a better economic future spewed forth by shameless
politicians. Groundless visions of forthcoming, unlimited
growth and a significant drop in the unemployment curve. This
lie is one of the foundations on which the power structure of
Western democracies is based. Global multinationals and
financial experts who control the mysteries of virtual
investment -- the barons of the new, global economics --
benefit from it, leaving national institutions in their dust
and dwarfing entire nations. The masses remain in a state of
ignorance since economic parlance is still based on Old
Economics terminology, relying on industry, employment and
the solidarities within a cultivated national economy.
The book calls for a shift in consciousness that would
provide the unemployed not just financial assistance but
would also acknowledge their value as human beings without
conditioning this acknowledgement on their ability to rejoin
the work force. This represents a revolution in thinking --
both by the public and individuals -- without which Forester
claims entire sectors are doomed to founder.
In her opening remarks Forester writes, "We are trapped
inside a deception. The world we live in is vanishing and we
adamantly refuse to acknowledge it. Meanwhile the political
agenda carries on, with artificial inertia, to perpetuate a
reality whose time has passed. The fate of millions of people
hangs in the balance. They are being erased, cast aside
because of this anachronism sustained by anachronistic
formulas designed to keep our most sacred taboo in place: the
taboo of work.
"`Work,' often hiding behind the misleading concept of
`employment,' forms the basis of Western culture, which
controls the entire world. They are inseparable. Even at a
time when work is in the process of disappearing,
evaporating, no one is disputing its centrality or
questioning its necessity.
"It is presumed to be the organizing factor for the entire
system of economic distribution, the basis for our
subsistence. It forms the first link in a long chain of
barter and exchange that appears to us as vital as our
"Yet in truth work -- considered the driving principle in the
fleeting game of life on earth -- has become an entity devoid
People are speaking more and more about unemployment, she
writes, but this term has lost its real meaning. Today it
stands for a phenomenon very different from the phenomenon it
pretends to continue to stand for. "Unemployment is a wide
cushion for elusive, usually deceitful, promises of new jobs
to be created, but their numbers are minute and their wages
are meager. Their percentages are insignificant compared to
the millions who lose their place in the job market, and
amelioration of their circumstances is not visible on the
horizon. What kind of society awaits us in the future?"
There is an obvious contradiction, writes Forester, between
the poverty spreading in every possible direction and the
lofty proclamations of growth everyone is supposed to
anticipate and that are being touted as a panacea for every
social ailment. "But will this type of targeted growth really
eliminate such ills? And perhaps the intention is growth in
financial speculation, growth in virtual markets, growth of
`electronic capitalism,' which is completely divorced from
the growth we are aiming towards?"
The book exposes the falsehoods and distortions of modern
economics, which promotes endless consumption through a
brainwashing advertising system and a label- loving culture
that combine to empty the pockets of the little guy in order
to enrich the affluent.
The same applies to the glimmering concepts of New Economics,
the Global Village and all the myths of progress in the
modern economy, which has merely increased the gap between
growing masses of the poor and a limited group of prospering
opportunists who have no concern for all those who the
Economic Revolution left behind and decreed desperation as
their daily fare.
This is not the place for a critique of the in-depth study's
debatable conclusions, but the many questions it poses
together form a single question we are hard- pressed to
answer: What good has the New Economy done us?
The Jewish conclusion is nothing new. It was passed on to us
at Mt. Sinai. On the verse im bechukosai teileichu . . .
venosati gishmeichem be'itom venosno ho'Oretz yevuloh the
Alter of Slobodka used to say, just as according to the laws
of nature "and I shall bring the rains at their appointed
times" leads to "and the Land will bring forth its harvest,"
we too are promised that, according to the laws of nature, if
we go in His ways we will receive the rains in their
This is an intrinsic aspect of Creation. Physical, economic
and material existence depends on the spiritual reality,
which has an impact on the entire world. The spiritual
reality determines whether trees (or economies) grow and what
will become of the fruits, whether the harvest will be
gathered in and the food will be blessed or, chas
vesholom the harvest will be depleted after all the labor
has already been invested in it. These are the real and
eternal laws of economics, and they are not about to