From Publishers Weekly
A moribund Left gets zapped with a cattle prod in this stimulating visionary manifesto. Brazilian social theorist Unger (Democracy Realized: The Progressive Alternative) paints leftists as hidebound and backward-looking, clinging to a vestigial social democracy that ameliorates the ills of a market economy instead of trying to transform it. Rather than resist economic and social change, he argues, the Left should drive "the permanent creation of the new" by championing New Economy managerial techniques of cooperative innovation, promoting state support for small entrepreneurship and venture capital formation and exploring "experimental" forms of markets, property and contract. Properly guided by "high-energy" politics, he insists, such initiatives can enhance equality, security, social solidarity and returns to labor, broaden opportunity, usher in "the divinization of humanity" and bestow on the individual "a more god-like self." Some readers will no doubt find his sweeping indictment of social democracy unfair, his co-optation of avant-garde management theory naive, and his celebration of change and upheaval utopian. Many of his proposals, like privatizating social services or making everyone hold a second job in the "caring economy" tending to the old, the young, the sick, the poor or the desperate (no, family members don't count), are ill thought-out. Still, he offers an incisive critique of social and economic discontents, one that turns traditional Marxist formulations on their heads ("we... are, in large numbers, petty-bourgeois now.") The result is a provocative challenge to left orthodoxies that should spur plenty of controversy-and fresh thinking.
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“A good book to stir up leftists.”—Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg Business Week
“Roberto Mangabeira Unger’s book may someday make possible a new national romance ... a hitherto undreamt-of national future.”—Richard Rorty
“A restless visionary.”—New York Times
“A philosophical mind out of the Third World turning tables, to become a synoptist and seer of the First.”—Perry Anderson
“Brazil’s answer to John Stuart Mill ... a political philosopher extraordinaire.”—Chronicle of Higher Education
“This book has influenced how I think and what I do. It sets out the principles for a future Left and crucially challenges us to think not just about how we spend revenues but how we might create them.”—Neal Lawson, Chair of Compass