HONR 299D

 

More than ever, we live in a predominantly capitalist world.  With this reality has come both enormous benefits (such as prosperity and innovation for early movers and rising standards of living for late movers) and great frustrations (such as economic inequality and environmental degradation).  Populist critiques of capitalism are transforming U.S. and European politics through an anti-globalist tsunami.  This course explores how we got here and what we should do about it by examining the historical origins and spread of capitalism; modern alternatives to capitalist political economy (such as socialism); ways in which leading theorists have tried to make sense of capitalism; major varieties of capitalism in different nations and regions of the world; and leading plans to reform capitalism.  Additional topics will include capitalism and slavery, capitalist-inspired art and popular culture; capitalism, mechanization, and work; and capitalism and climate change.  At its core, this course asks:  What does capitalism do well, what does it do poorly, and how can we make it better?