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Special Project

Rethinking Political Economy

Rethinking Political Economy begins with a world in crisis—after forty years of market fundamentalism—and asks how we build a new one. We debate new ways to think about protecting the planet, the relationship of equality and democracy, the need for racially inclusive prosperity, the promise of industrial policy, the dangers of concentrated economic power, and a revival of investment in public goods. We are grateful for the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for supporting this effort.

We are pleased to announce a new Boston Review series, Rethinking Political Economy. Picking up where Democracy’s Promise left off, this new effort begins with a world in crisis and asks how we build a new one.

The starting point is to reject market fundamentalism. The dominant framework of politics and policy for forty years, market fundamentalism is defined by a narrowly individualistic picture of society, an untenable separation of states and markets, a limited sense of political possibilities, and a lack of confidence in the capacity of democracy to address public problems. In the United States, its failures are manifest in environmental catastrophe, shameful income and wealth inequality, racial injustice, failing public health infrastructure, and populist degradation of democracy.

Rethinking Political Economy will provide space for advancing alternatives in theory, politics, and policy. We will debate new ways to think about protecting the planet, the relationship of equality and democracy, the need for racially inclusive prosperity, the promise of industrial policy, the dangers of concentrated economic power, and a revival of investment in public goods.

We do not promise a new synthesis. But we do expect Rethinking Political Economy to help reorient public discussion away from market fundamentalism and toward an egalitarian, democratic sense of the common good.

Samuel Miller McDonald

Beyond carbon emissions and safety, the debate must also confront how the choices we make now constrain the kind of world we can build in the future.

Mariana Mazzucato Rainer Kattel Josh Ryan-Collins

Market fundamentalism has failed to improve economic and social conditions. Now, we need a mission-oriented approach to the economy that embraces an active role for government in spurring growth and innovation.

Andrew Elrod

Democrats don’t lose elections because of rising prices. They lose when they cut spending and raise interest rates, sacrificing other goals at the altar of price stability.

Arjun Jayadev J. W. Mason

With globalization under increasing scrutiny, national governments are poised to exert more power over markets.

Anna Romina Guevarra

The pandemic increased demand and possibilities for automating care, but doing so may deliver racist stereotypes and unemployment for women of color.

Nichola Lowe

To support the work of the future, we must promote workers’ skills as crucial to technological progress.

Simon Torracinta

For economist Albert O. Hirschman, social planning meant creative experimentation rather than theoretical certainty. We could use more of his improvisatory optimism today.

Annette Zimmermann

Justice demands that we think not just about profit or performance, but above all about purpose.

Prabhat Patnaik

The neofascist assault on democracy is a last-ditch effort on the part of neoliberal capitalism to rescue itself from crisis. The only solution is a decisive retreat from globalized finance.

Gerald Epstein Robert Pollin

Mainstream economics ignores the massive government interventions that “free market” capitalism requires.

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