Plato’s Republic to diverse modern models

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* A Journey through Alternative Economic Systems

After communism collapsed in the former Soviet Union, capitalism seemed to many observers like the only game in town, and questioning it became taboo for academic economists. But the financial crisis, chronic unemployment, and the inexorable rise of inequality have resurrected the question of whether there is a feasible and desirable alternative to capitalism.

Against this backdrop of growing disenchantment, Giacomo Corneo presents a refreshingly antidogmatic review of economic systems, taking as his launching point a fictional argument between a daughter indignant about economic injustice and her father, a professor of economics.

«Is Capitalism Obsolete?» begins when the daughter’s angry complaints prompt her father to reply that capitalism cannot responsibly be abolished without an alternative in mind. He invites her on a tour of tried and proposed economic systems in which production and consumption obey noncapitalistic rules. These range from Plato’s Republic to diverse modern models, including anarchic communism, central planning, and a stakeholder societ

Some of these alternatives have considerable strengths. But daunting problems arise when the basic institutions of capitalism—markets and private property—are suppressed. Ultimately, the father argues, all serious counterproposals to capitalism fail to pass the test of economic feasibility.

Then the story takes an unexpected turn. Father and daughter jointly come up with a proposal to gradually transform the current economic system so as to share prosperity and foster democratic participation.

Giacomo Corneo is Professor of Public Finance and Social Policy at the Free University of Berlin. He studied economics at Universitá Bocconi in Milan, received a Ph.D. from the European Doctoral Program in Quantitative Economics and got Habilitation at the University of Bonn. He taught at ENPC in Paris, at the University of Bonn, and the University of Osnabrück. He served as senior advisor at Ministère de l’Economie et des Finances in Paris.

The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: youtube

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