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The goal of mainstream economists is to get everybody to work. As a result, they celebrate capitalism for creating full employment—and worry that capitalism will falter if not enough people are working. The utopian premise and promise of mainstream economic theory are that capitalism generates an efficient allocation of resources, including labor. Thus, underlying all […]

Forget Bitcoin. It’s the underlying technology, blockchain, that is generating the most excitement. Even utopia! Bitcoin is a digital currency that was invented in 2009 by a person (or group) who called himself Satoshi Nakamoto. His stated goal was to create “a new electronic cash system” that was “completely decentralized with no server or central authority.” After cultivating […]

We hear it all the time. On a regular basis. Having to do with pretty much everything. Why is the price of gasoline so high? Mainstream economists respond, “it’s the market.” Or if you think you deserve a pay raise, the answer again is, “go get another offer and we’ll see if you’re worth it […]

From the very beginning, the area of mainstream economics devoted to Third World development has been imbued with a utopian impulse. The basic idea has been that traditional societies need to be transformed in order to pass through the various stages of growth and, if successful, they will eventually climb the ladder of progress and […]

It was Paul Samuelson who, in 1997, declared with morbid optimism that “Funeral by funeral, economics does make progress.”* What Samuelson presumed is that, over time, wrong ideas would be killed and laid to rest and better ideas would flourish, thus creating the foundation for progress in economic thought. That’s what I consider to be […]

This is the first in a series of blog posts on the utopian dimensions of healthcare. I’ve written quite a bit about the U.S. healthcare dystopia over the years—including a seven-part series back in 2016.* But I haven’t yet addressed the utopian dimensions of healthcare reform. The appearance of the new issue of Jacobin Magazine, […]

Donald Trump’s decision to impose import tariffs—on solar panels and washing machines now, and perhaps on steel and aluminum down the line—has once again opened up the war concerning international trade. It’s not a trade war per se (although Trump’s free-trade opponents have invoked that specter, that the governments of other countries may retaliate with […]

Economic inequality is arguably the crucial issue facing contemporary capitalism—especially in the United States but also across the entire world economy. Over the course of the last four decades, income inequality has soared in the United States, as the share of pre-tax national income captured by the top 1 percent (the red line in the […]

I have often argued—in lectures, talks, and publications—that every economic theory has a utopian dimension. Economists don’t explicitly talk about utopia but, my argument goes, they can’t do what they do without some utopian horizon. The issue of utopia is there, at least in the background, in every area of economics—perhaps especially on the topic […]

Much has been made of the rise of populism in recent years and the threat it poses to liberal democracy. My view is that liberal critics of populism, standing on their heads, get it wrong. If made to stand on their feet, they’d have to admit that populism actually represents the failure of liberal democracy. […]