Visions of the Future of Capitalism

|Peter Boettke|

Earlier this year I published my book, The Struggle for a Better World which consists of various published versions of public lectures I have given over roughly between 2000-2020 mainly at learned societies and associations.  They have also reflect a little bit of my globetrotting during that period as the site of lectures have ranged from New Zealand to East and Central Europe. These various lectures represent my attempt to come to grips not only with the trials and tribulations of post-communist transformation and economic development more generally that occupied my scholarly attention from the mid-1980s to 2000s, but my reaction to a changing world of ideas and world of practical affairs in the wake of 9/11 and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.  I wrote a new introduction and new conclusion to address the changing situation as I see it since the Covid 19 pandemic of 2020, and the increasing awareness of militarization of police and injustice in our society.  

My podcast with Marian Tupy from last May will give you a good sense of what I am up to in the book.  Those lectures are my sincere attempt to understand the human condition using the tools of economic reasoning to aid me in that scholarly task, but also as a citizen to try to contemplate on the basis of that effort to understand how we may in fact engage in the project of how to repair this broken world.  It is, as I explain, a struggle in both the scholarly and the citizen within a democratic society sense.  It is a joyous struggle, I might add, but it doesn’t get any easier.  Scholarship and science exist at the edge of error and we do best when we remember that, and commit ourselves to life-long learning.

Ilia Murtazashvili has provided, in my humble opinion, an excellent comparative review of my perspective with that of the rather brilliant Daniel Bromley. Bromley is in the same intellectual tradition as the wonderful Warren Samuels, and also deeply familiar with the works of the Ostroms.  Like Warren, he is more comfortable with the older institutionalism of the Wisconsin School than with the New Institutionalism of Douglass North and Oliver Williamson.  See Malcolm Rutherford’s classic text Institutions in Economics for a good accounting of the different perspectives. As Ilia writes: 

In this review essay, I compare and contrast Peter Boettke’s The Struggle for a Better World (Mercatus Center, 2021) and Daniel Bromley’s Possessive Individualism: A Crisis of Capitalism (Oxford University Press, 2019). Each of these books considers the future of capitalism. Boettke’s Struggle sees capitalism as the only morally and economically justifiable system but that continual effort is necessary to ensure the capitalist enterprise succeeds. Bromley’s Crisis sees capitalism as a spent force that no longer does what it was meant to do—namely, improve the economic well-being of households. There are surprisingly many points of agreement in these books, most notably a concern for the downtrodden in society and an appreciation for the legitimation crisis confronting capitalism. There are also important differences that will give anyone interested in the future of capitalism much to ponder. Boettke sees unconstrained government as the primary threat to legitimacy; Bromley identifies the possessive individualism that lies at the heart of our current capitalist system as the source of the crisis. Both books make a significant contribution to our understanding of the institutions governing capitalist economies and powerful arguments as we contemplate the future of capitalism.

I am very grateful to Ilia for writing such a thoughtful essay, and it will give me a lot to chew on especially as I am working my way through the most recent book of another scholar that exists in the Warren Samuels, Dan Bromley, Malcolm Rutherford intellectual space, Geoffrey Hodgson and his new book Liberal Solidarity.  

I hope Ilia’s essay inspires others, especially graduate students in the social and policy sciences as well as the humanities, to join with us in this struggle to understand the human condition, and to contemplate what it might take to repair this broken world of ours. We need to have honest, frank and open conversations.  Murtazashvili provides us with a model of how to do that.

Read the Full Article here: >Coordination Problem