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Course Catalog > Courses: Late Summer

ZOOM: Politics and Economics for the 21st Century   

**This class will be taught on Zoom**

For several decades in the middle of the 20th century, many of the most advanced societies in the world featured some of the most cooperative economies of the period we sometimes call recorded human history. These economies featured more equal divisions of income and wealth, greater efforts to level the power differential between labor and ownership, guarantees against economic vulnerability, and rapid and sustained economic growth and progress. The politics of this period also featured greater cooperation, less polarization, and real progress in many dimensions of inclusion and justice (women’s rights, civil rights, environmentalism, toleration and respect for various minorities and greater individuality, for instance).

Over the last quarter of the 20th and the first of the 21st centuries, a sustained, organizing, well-funded and coordinated campaign to restore a more competitive, “winner-take-all” economy, succeeded, and with it a return to greater inequality and precariousness for the “less-fortunate” majority. These developments in turn have led to a more competitive, polarized and illiberal form of politics, to the resurgence of exclusionary populist and nativist politics throughout much of the democratic world, and to  the rise of avowedly authoritarian leaders in many societies. These developments will be explored in this course through a series of topics focused on some of the most influential readings in economics, political science, and kindred fields aimed at addressing these subjects, with an eye to the question of what if  anything can be done in the 21st century to restore more cooperative, less competitive kinds of economics and politics. 

Week by Week Outline

Week 1: The Classical Tradition in Political Economy: Smith, Marx, Mill and the Effort to Understand the Potentials and Limits of a Market Society

Week 2: From the Golden Age of Socially Embedded Markets to Neoliberal Global Capitalism

Week 3: Why and How 21st Century Capitalism Undermines Democracy (Part I)

Week 4: Why and How 21st Century Capitalism Undermines Democracy (Part II)

Week 5: Building a 21st Century Economy that Supports Democracy Part I: Reform or Revolution?

Week 6: Building a 21st Century Economy that Supports Democracy Part II: Experiments with Political and Economic Change


This class is not available at this time.  

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