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What two great figures of ancient India can tell us about our contemporary economic and social crises In 1991, Bruce Rich traveled to Orissa and gazed upon the rock edicts erected by the emperor Ashoka over 2,200 years ago. Intrigued by the stone inscriptions that declared religious tolerance, conservation, nonviolence, protection of all species, and human rights, Rich was drawn into Ashoka's world. Ashoka was a powerful conqueror who converted to Buddhism on the heels of a bloody war, yet his empire rested on a political system that saw the accumulation of wealth as society's overarching goal. This system was perfected by one of history's greatest political geniusesKautilya, a statesman who wrote the world's first treatise on economics. Already widely praised in India, in this updated U.S. edition, Rich distills the timely messages of Ashoka and Kautilya while reflecting on other thinkers from across the agesfrom Aristotle and Adam Smith to George Soros. With this powerful critique of the current wave of globalization, Rich urgently calls for a new global ethic.
Bruce Rich is senior counsel for international finance and development at the Environmental Defense Fund. He’s written for the Financial Times, the Nation, and the Ecologist and won the Global 500 Award for his last book, Mortgaging the Earth (Beacon / 4707-1 / $22.00 pb). He lives in Washington, D.C.