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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.

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.

Nantina Vgontzas

Unions are just one element of a broader push to transform the company. Coalitions forged during the pandemic point the way forward—with a radical vision of worker and community control.

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Duncan Kelly

Can today’s crises inspire action at the scales required to think about planetary sustainability?

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Amy Kapczynski David Singh Grewal Jedediah Britton-Purdy

If we are to emerge from this era of crisis, we need legal thinking that operates on fundamentally different presumptions.

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Adam Przeworski

Leaders of the left abandoned the language of transformation in the 1980s—at a cost. Can it be regained?

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Mike Konczal

Labor activists once understood time to be a checking mechanism on market activity. In our own era of uncontrolled working hours, this is a vision of freedom worth recapturing.

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David G. Victor Robert C. Hockett Edward J. Markey Joshua Cohen Thea Riofrancos Alyssa Battistoni

A transcript of our panel discussion on the Green New Deal and our new book Climate Action.

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Simon Torracinta

Far from a marginal outsider, a new biography contends, Thorstein Veblen was the most important economic thinker of the Gilded Age.

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Chiara Cordelli

Many reject privatization for its distributional consequences. The deeper problem is that it threatens the very foundation of political legitimacy.

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Nicola Miller

The region has a long legacy of critical engagement with classical political economy, helping to change the way we think about markets and morals.

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