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Finance and the Good Society by Robert J. Shiller

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Chapter 30

The Great Illusion, Then and Now

In 1910 Norman Angell, a British member of Parliament, documented a widespread and dangerous misconception through his best-selling book The Great Illusion: A Study of the Relation of Military Power to National Advantage. The great illusion was, in Angell’s words, an “optical illusion” that stood as “an all but universal idea”: the belief that

a nation’s financial and industrial stability, its security in commercial activity—in short, its prosperity and well-being, depend upon its being able to defend itself against the aggression of other nations, who will, if they are able, be tempted to commit such aggression because in so doing they will increase their power and consequently their prosperity and ...

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