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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.

Caley Horan

Private insurance companies have long dominated the provision of social security in the United States, but resistance is growing.

Chris Hong Nic Johnson Robert Manduca

How a grassroots movement of American farmers laid the foundation for state intervention in the economy.

Gianpaolo Baiocchi H. Jacob Carlson

The American Jobs Plan mirrors past efforts at affordable housing that contributed to our problems and failed Black Americans. We need to take housing out of the private market.

Daron Acemoglu

AI can be used to increase human productivity, create jobs and shared prosperity, and protect and bolster democratic freedoms—but only if we modify our approach.

Raj Patel

They are fighting in a global war over the future of agriculture. Modi is chocking the debate.

Ben Zdencanovic

Direct payments to families should replace backdoor tax breaks, which obscure the failures of capitalism to sustain social reproduction.

Justin H. Vassallo

Dispelling myths of entrepreneurial exceptionalism, a sweeping new history of U.S. capitalism finds that economic gains have always been driven by the state.

Charmaine Chua

Two timely new books unmask the colossal shipping industry behind global trade, whose monstrous pursuit of profit has long wreaked havoc on laborers and the seas they sail through.

Archon Fung Heather C. McGhee

A conversation with Heather C. McGhee about the zero-sum thinking that has long dominated American attitudes to race and wealth—and how to organize to secure public goods for everyone.

Ruth Milkman

Non-college-educated U.S.-born workers have every reason to be enraged by declining wages and living standards, but more restrictive immigration policies won’t solve these problems.

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