The Italian Enlightenment, no less than the Scottish, was central to the emergence of political economy and creation of market societies. Sophus Reinert turns to Milan in the late 1700s to recover early socialists’ preoccupations with the often lethal tension among states, markets, and human welfare, and the policies these ideas informed.
From Thomas Piketty to David Harvey, scholars are increasingly questioning whether we are entering into a post-capitalist era. If so, does this new epoch signal the failure of capitalism and emergence of alternative systems? Or does it mark the ultimate triumph of capitalism as it evolves into an unstoppable entity that takes new forms as it engulfs its opposition?
After Capitalism brings together leading scholars from across the academy to offer competing perspectives on capitalism’s past incarnations, present conditions, and possible futures. Some contributors reassess classic theorizations of capitalism in light of recent trends, including real estate bubbles, debt relief protests, and the rise of a global creditocracy. Others examine Marx’s writings, unemployment, hoarding, “capitalist realism,” and coyote (trickster) capitalism, among many other topics. Media and design trends locate the key ideologies of the current economic moment, with authors considering everything from the austerity aesthetics of reality TV to the seductive smoothness of liquid crystal.
Even as it draws momentous conclusions about global economic phenomena, After Capitalism also pays close attention to locales as varied as Cuba, India, and Latvia, examining the very different ways that economic conditions have affected the relationship between the state and its citizens. Collectively, these essays raise provocative questions about how we should imagine capitalism in the twenty-first century. Will capitalism, like all economic systems, come to an end, or does there exist in history or elsewhere a hidden world that is already post-capitalist, offering alternative possibilities for thought and action?
The troubled history of democracy in Latin America has been the subject of much scholarly commentary. This volume breaks new ground by systematically exploring the linkages among the historical legacies of large landholding patterns, agrarian class relations, and authoritarian versus democratic trajectories in Latin American countries. The essays address questions about the importance of large landownders for the national economy, the labor needs and labor relations of these landowners, attempts of landowners to enlist the support of the state to control labor, and the democratic forms of rule in the twentieth century.
First published in French in 1979, “The Ambivalence of Scarcity” was a groundbreaking work on mimetic theory. Now expanded upon with new, specially written, and never-before-published conference texts and essays, this revised edition explores René Girard’s philosophy in three sections: economy and economics, mimetic theory, and violence and politics in modern societies. The first section argues that though mimetic theory is in many ways critical of modern economic theory, this criticism can contribute to the enrichment of economic thinking. The second section explores the issues of nonviolence and misrecognition (méconnaissance), which have been at the center of many discussions of Girard’s work. The final section proposes mimetic analyses of the violence typical of modern societies, from high school bullying to genocide and terrorist attacks. Politics, Dumouchel argues, is a violent means of protecting us from our own violent tendencies, and it can at times become the source of the very savagery from which it seeks to protect us. The book’s conclusion analyzes the relationship between ethics and economics, opening new avenues of research and inviting further exploration. Dumouchel’s introduction reflects on the importance of René Girard’s work in relation to ongoing research, especially in social sciences and philosophy.
Populists on both sides of the political aisle routinely announce that the American Dream is dead. According to them, the game has been rigged by elites, workers can’t get ahead, wages have been stagnant for decades, and the middle class is dying.
Michael R. Strain, director of economic policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, disputes this rhetoric as both wrong and dangerous. In this succinctly argued volume, he shows that, on measures of economic opportunity and quality of life, there has never been a better time to be alive in America. He backs his argument with overwhelming—and underreported—data to show how the facts favor realistic optimism.
He warns, however, that the false prophets of populism pose a serious danger to our current and future prosperity. Their policies would leave workers worse off. And their erroneous claim that the American Dream is dead could discourage people from taking advantage of real opportunities to better their lives. If enough people start to believe the Dream is dead, they could, in effect, kill it. To prevent this self-fulfilling prophecy, Strain’s book is urgent reading for anyone feeling the pull of the populists.
E. J. Dionne and Henry Olsen provide spirited responses to Strain’s argument.
The Spanish Civil War created a conflict for Americans who preferred that the United States remain uninvolved in foreign affairs. Despite the country's isolationist tendencies, opposition to the rise of fascism across Europe convinced many Americans that they had to act in support of the Spanish Republic. While much has been written about the war itself and its international volunteers, little attention has been paid to those who coordinated these relief efforts at home.
American Relief Aid and the Spanish Civil War tells the story of the political campaigns to raise aid for the Spanish Republic as activists pushed the limits of isolationist thinking. Those concerned with Spain’s fate held a range of political convictions (including anarchists, socialists, liberals, and communists) with very different understandings of what fascism was. Yet they all agreed that fascism’s advance must be halted. With labor strikes, fund-raising parties, and ambulance tours, defenders of Spain in the United States sought to shift the political discussion away from isolation of Spain’s elected government and toward active assistance for the faltering Republic.
Examining the American political organizations affiliated with this relief effort and the political repression that resulted as many of Spain’s supporters faced the early incarnations of McCarthyism’s trials, Smith provides new understanding of American politics during the crucial years leading up to World War II. By also focusing on the impact the Spanish Civil War had on those of Spanish ethnicity in the United States, Smith shows how close to home the seemingly distant war really hit.
American Tax Resisters
Romain D. Huret Harvard University Press, 2014 Library of Congress HJ2362.H87 2014 | Dewey Decimal 336.200973
American Tax Resisters gives a history of the anti-tax movement that, for the past 150 years, has pursued limited taxes on wealth and battled efforts to secure social justice through income redistribution. It explains how a once-marginal ideology became mainstream, elevating individual entrepreneurialism over sacrifice and solidarity.
America's Inequality Trap
Nathan J. Kelly University of Chicago Press, 2020 Library of Congress HC110.I5K45 2019 | Dewey Decimal 339.220973
The gap between the rich and the poor has grown dramatically in the United States and is now at its widest since at least the early 1900s. While by most measures the economy has been improving, soaring cost of living and stagnant wages have done little to assuage economic anxieties. Conditions like these seem designed to produce a generation-defining intervention to balance the economic scales and enhance opportunities for those at the middle and bottom of the country’s economic ladder—but we have seen nothing of the sort.
Nathan J. Kelly argues that a key reason for this is that rising concentrations of wealth create a politics that makes reducing economic inequality more difficult. Kelly convincingly shows that, when a small fraction of the people control most of the economic resources, they also hold a disproportionate amount of political power, hurtling us toward a self-perpetuating plutocracy, or an “inequality trap.” Among other things, the rich support a broad political campaign that convinces voters that policies to reduce inequality are unwise and not in the average voter’s interest, regardless of the real economic impact. They also take advantage of interest groups they generously support to influence Congress and the president, as well as state governments, in ways that stop or slow down reform. One of the key implications of this book is that social policies designed to combat inequality should work hand-in-hand with political reforms that enhance democratic governance and efforts to fight racism, and a coordinated effort on all of these fronts will be needed to reverse the decades-long trend.
Since the mid-1960s it has been apparent that authoritarian regimes are not necessarily doomed to extinction as societies modernize and develop, but are potentially viable (if unpleasant) modes of organizing a society’s developmental efforts. This realization has spurred new interest among social scientists in the phenomenon of authoritarianism and one of its variants, corporatism.
The sixteen previously unpublished essays in this volume provide a focus for the discussion of authoritarianism and corporatism by clarifying various concepts, and by pointing to directions for future research utilizing them. The book is organized in four parts: a theoretical introduction; discussions of authoritarianism, corporatism, and the state; comparative and case studies; and conclusions and implications. The essays discuss authoritarianism and corporatism in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.