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Finance and the Good Society by Robert J. Shiller

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Part Two

Finance and Its Discontents

In his 1930 book Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud described a “profound long-standing discontent with the existing state of civilization” and a widespread popular view that “civilization itself is to blame for a great part of our misery, and we should be much happier if we were to give it up and go back to primitive conditions.” He attributed the popular appeal of traditional communism to such a view: “By abolishing private property one deprives the human love of aggression of one of its instruments.”1 But Freud ultimately concluded that civilization, with its complex psychology, is not so easily improved.

Our discontents reflect fundamental human nature and are refractory. The human spirit ...

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