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“Capitalist,” a term that once belonged almost exclusively to the political left, is now used by everyone to describe the society in which we live. Yet this broad consensus has become part of a problem—the false idea and deep-seated illusion that the economy is autonomous and should be governed by its own laws, even if it means restricting the scope of democratic decision-making.
In Capitalism, leading economic sociologist Fred L. Block explains how U.S. politics got caught in a loop that alternates between center-left Democrats and increasingly extreme-right Republicans. Block argues that to exit this cycle of raised hopes followed by dashed dreams, we must challenge the idea that we live in a society that operates according to its own inner laws. Compellingly written and full of examples of the consequences of our absence of political imagination, Capitalism guides us through the reality that market societies are complex institutional hybrids and that, periodically, we must consider (despite our own fears) replacing our existing economic system to restore economic vitality.
Fred L. Block is Research Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Davis, and a leading economic sociologist. He has served on the Board of the Karl Polanyi Institute of Political Economy since 1989.