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After Capitalism (New Critical Theory) Paperback – July 23, 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Only the most fanatical adherents of the 'free market' orthodoxy will now say that 'there is no alternative.' After Capitalism is extremely clear and free of technical jargon so that it should be readily accessible to any reader. The book seems to me to be the best celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto. (Schmitt, Richard)

Many book-cover blurbs urge that no one interested in its field can afford to ignore the pages within: here, for once, there would be no element of exaggeration. This book provides a clear and persuasive argument for why practically no one should resign themselves to the evils of capitalism. (Philosophy In Review)

At a time when American-style capitalism appears to be unassailable, this very readable book is a timely reminder that there really is an alternative. After Capitalism is full of hope but, importantly, also full of reason. Schweickart's concept of Economic Democracy provides a compelling vision for everyone distressed by the enormous waste of human potential that characterizes capitalism as we know it. (Thomas E. Weisskopf)

This brilliant and elegant tour de force makes a clear and compelling case for economic democracy and confirms David Schweickart as the leader in the field. (Sheehan, Thomas)

A fresh take on a familiar argument. (Future Survey)

David Schweickart uniquely joins a devastating critique of capitalism with a practical program for a democratic alternative, making After Capitalism a worthy successor to the work of Karl Marx. No one interested in implementing an alternative to capitalism can afford to ignore this landmark work. (Manley, John F.)

After Capitalism makes the clearest case I have seen that capitalism leads nowhere but to moral, social, and environmental catastrophe. Yet it inspires hope by describing a realistic and sensible way to put our productive lives in our own hands instead of at the service of capital accumulation. Schweickart's accessible book will enlighten students and political activists about how the world works while opening new paths for its transformation. (Clayton Morgareidge)

If a well-read non-socialist leftist were to ask me for the best current book on socialism, I'd recommend After Capitalism. (Science & Society)

About the Author

David Schweickart is professor of philosophy at the Loyola University of Chicago and holds Ph.D.s in both philosophy and mathematics. He is author of Against Capitalism (Cambridge University Press, 1993) and Capitalism or Worker Control? An Ethical Economic Appraisal (Praeger, 1980), and co-author of Market Socialism: The Debate Among Socialists (Routledge, 1998).
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Product Details

  • Series: New Critical Theory
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (July 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0742513009
  • ISBN-13: 978-0742513006
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.5 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #915,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By David Chandler on December 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
The evils of centrally planned socialism on the Soviet model are widely proclaimed, but capitalism has equally negative side effects: gross maldistribution of the fruits of the economy, the breeding of a mass consumer culture, and destruction of the environment among them. Capitalism may well collapse under its own excesses, but what would one propose to replace it? Margaret Thatcher's mantra was TINA...There Is No Alternative. David Schweickart's vision of "Economic Democracy" proposes a serious alternative. Even more fundamentally, it opens the door to thinking about alternatives. His may or may not turn out to be the definitive "successor system," but he is a leader in breaking out of the box.
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After completing Dr. Schweickart's masterpiece I left with a true sense of empowerment and optimism. Economic democracy is only a theory on paper but the substance of the model is made so clear in "After Capitalism" you can almost perfectly imagine what the system would look like fully implemented. Schweickart breaks his theory into several important points:

Worker self management. Using evidence from numerous scholars the book looks at the merits of having a macro econ. policy based on workers coops. Staying balanced with studies done by pro-coop Princeton economist and a critic of the Mondragon coop in Spain, he offers more than enough empirical evidence to come to a clear conclusion: Worker's coops are just as efficient, if not more so, as their privately owned counter-parts. Efficiency is only one plus of the coop though. The author digs deep to explore coop's relation to future business expansion, employment, and profit sharing.

Social control of investment is the next major characteristic of E.D. All workers coop's are charged a flat tax that is diverted into a national investment fund. These funds are then transferred back to communities (on a per capita basis) through regional and local public banks. Banks then give grants to coops creating "profitable employment" and to groups of individuals who intend to start new coops. This is a weighty concept and I would read it with a pen and pad in hand. However, at the end of chapter three you will be well versed in the financial markets replacement and ready to defend the proposition if you so chose.

The last major tenet of E.D. involves the market itself. Unlike the USSR or decentralized econ. planning schemes E.D. keeps the consumer market intact.
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I give the book two stars mainly for the writing, which is clear and interesting. There are too many conceptual confusions, fallacies, and misguided ideas for more stars.

First, some terminology. Capitalism is an economic system based on private ownership of the means of production and typically their operation for profit. Capitalists are providers of capital, mainly via ownership (e.g. common stock) or lending. Schweickart typically uses 'capitalist' in a more restrictive way than common, meaning *passive* capitalists who receive interest and dividends but don't otherwise contribute to production. They don't labor, supervise, invent, or decide what to produce or how. He finds no justification for the income of passive capitalists.

Socialism is an economic system based on social ownership and control of the means of production. "Social ownership" typically means government. Schweickart also includes ownership by workers that are not part of government, and calls that "market socialism." Ownership in this sense is compatible with capitalism. Nonprofits, e.g. charities, some hospitals and educational establishments are also compatible with capitalism. So are credit unions and mutual insurance companies.

Like Karl Marx, Schweickart is endeared to the labor theory of value and resents passive capitalists. He also doesn't like capitalism like Marx, except when he does. :-) Like Marx, he contends the labor theory of value is the correct theory. He ignores the powerful neoclassical arguments against it, and facilely criticizes the neoclassical, marginal theory.

Schweickart disparages neoclassical economists for using the entrepreneur to explain their theory. He accuses them of using sleight of hand to justify capitalist income (p. 34).
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That there are only 12 reviews for this book at time of writing this is a criminal shame. Capitalism is in the process of devouring itself through runaway financialization and plutarchy. A tiny percentage of us get richer and richer and everybody else gets poorer. The invisible hand of individual greed that for 100 years had the reliable secondary effect of raising all boats, has a reached a state of technological advancement and globalization that 99% of us are now economically disposable. Costs to be lowered or eliminated as needed. An economy that should be a mechanism for broad middle class wealth and stability is now about maximizing short term ROI period. As automation replaces outsourcing this concentration of wealth is going to go hyperbolic if Capitalism as currently implemented stays in place.

That's where this book comes in. Marx is on the cover but he is incidental to its profound value. Schweickart has spent more than twenty years thinking about how we can build a better, inherently much more equitable, true market economy that can realistically replace Capitalism. An economy where well paid work for everyone is the point and not a cross-your-fingers secondary effect of structuring the whole thing for the sole benefit of concentrated liquid capital.

You wont agree with every prescription in the book. Schweickart's balance of government vs market provided goods and services may not match yours but this doesn't matter and shouldn't keep you from reading 'After Capitalism'. The real gift is that you will end it hopeful and convinced that market economics can be fixed.
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