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Democracy and Capitalism: Property, Community and the Contradictions of Modern Social Thought

Democracy and Capitalism: Property, Community and the Contradictions of Modern Social Thought

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By Samuel Bowles and Hervert Ginitis

In this stimulating new study, Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis present a critique of contemporary Marxian and liberal political theory. They show that 'capitalism' and 'democracy' - although widely held jointly to characterize western society - are sharply contrasting rules regulating both the process of human development and the historical evolution of whole societies.

Challenging the liberal conception of the economy as private and apolitical, Bowles and Gintis develop instead a theory of the intrinsically political nature of production and exchange, arguing that the economy is a public sphere that should be organized democratically. They discuss what they regard as the impoverished and unduly restricted concept of power in Marxian theory and demonstrate that the obstacles to personal autonomy and democratic accountability alike stem as much from forms of domination such as patriarchal privilege and unaccountable state power as they do from class prerogatives. Finally, through their analysis of learning and personal development - and in sharp contrast to the Marxian tradition - the authors provide a rich conception of the individual, one that goes considerably beyond the atomistic individual of liberal theory.

A tough-minded yet profoundly hopeful commentary on the present predicament of democracy, Democracy and Capitalism makes an important contribution to the development of democratic thought, in the tradition of Adam Smith, Karl Marx and John Stuart Mill.

Published 1986