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Books do not  change the world. They crystallize; they make visible;
they form a memento of; they sum up; they give voice to; they celebrate;
they provide a mutual recognition system for those millions of mostly
nameless ones whose actions and words _do_ change, have changed, and
will change again the world.

_The Wealth of Nations_ is a very beautiful book. One semester when I
was too deep in depression to read ordinarily I could read while
peddling an exercycle for 60 minutes a day six days a week, and it was
while peddling that exercycle that I read _The Wealth of Nations_. It
was the only text I did read over a period of about three months. But it
is a perfect example of the ways in which books function as I have
indicated above. It was backward-looking; it summarized the complex of
social relations which had formed behind the back of men and women in
the 16th and 17th centuries. But capitalism would have gotten along just
the same had Smith never  been born. (Incidentally, not one economist in
3000 reads Smith today -- which is their loss, but it wouldn't change
anything if they did begin to read him again. No one is more ignorant of
history, including the history of their own field, then neoclassical
economists.)

Philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point
is to change it. Or as someone else in the same tradition remarked a
century later -- if you want to know what a pear tastes like, you have
to participate in changing the world by biting into the pear.

Carrol