ECONOMICS

Foretelling the End of Capitalism: Intellectual Misadventures Since Karl Marx

Harvard Univ. May 2020. 336p. ISBN 9780674919327. $35. BUS
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Aimed at a general readership, this book from Boldizzoni (political science, Univ. of Helsinki; The Poverty of Clio: Resurrecting Economic History) looks at the prophecies of the end of capitalism over the past two centuries. The first six chapters outline the historical narrative of unfulfilled predictions from the 19th century to the present and reflect on the implications. In later chapters, the author discusses what is wrong with attempts at foretelling the future and considers the reasons for the persistence of capitalism. Starting in 1848, he examines the ideas of John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, and other key thinkers, and studies events such as World War I, the 1929 Stock Market Crash, the Great Depression, the New Deal, post–World War II, and the effects on the intensification of state intervention in capitalist economies. Boldizzoni studies the thinking traps of forecasters, including human cognition limitations, theoretical flaws, and the Enlightenment mind-set of modern thinkers, finally asserting that capitalism will end. Includes bibliographical notes.
VERDICT An insightful study of capitalism and the “harbingers of doom” that have been part of its history. Faculty researchers, and students of economics and philosophy should find this informative and timely. Highly recommended.

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