The Future of Capitalism Book Summary - The Future of Capitalism Book explained in key points
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The Future of Capitalism summary

Paul Collier

Facing the New Anxieties

3.9 (195 ratings)
20 mins

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"The Future of Capitalism" by Paul Collier challenges the current economic system and proposes solutions to improve the lives of the working and middle class, including reforms in taxation, corporate governance, and education.

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    The Future of Capitalism
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    The erosion of social democracy has left us with a morally bankrupt capitalism. 

    In the decades following the Second World War, capitalism created a time of extraordinary economic growth that was enjoyed across class boundaries.

    Following the Allied war efforts, people felt a new sense of solidarity and a shared national identity that resulted in a commitment to helping each other and a general acceptance of social democracy and its communitarian ethics. 

    In the United States, New Deal legislation that provided benefits for everyone from the young to the elderly was embraced and the rich paid over 80 percent income taxes with little complaint. Meanwhile, in Britain, the liberal National Health Service – free for all at the point of use – was devised and implemented by a collaboration between Labour and Conservative powers. 

    Yet despite the minimal conflict between political parties, the pillars upholding social democracy began to fracture. Due to the new economic stability, a growing number of people pursued increasingly higher ranks of education, and over time, a new class of highly educated people found jobs that required specialized skills and offered wages to match.

    In the 1970s, these intellectuals achieved their sense of pride in their work rather than their national identity, while a growing number also began supporting left- and right-wing ideologies that emphasized individualism. 

    One such ideology that seized political consciousness was Utilitarianism, which argued that it was the responsibility of the state to redistribute advantages to the least fortunate. The adoption of Utilitarianism transformed the communitarianism of the postwar era into social paternalism, in which the state claims moral authority over its citizens. 

    Meanwhile, due to widening wage differences, unskilled workers were granted less dignity for their labor than the professional classes. Over the decades to come, these people continued to embrace their national identity while increasingly feeling the anxiety of marginalization.

    As a result of these political and economic transformations, social democracy today is in a state of crisis. In the past decade, Donald Trump’s populist message has won over the hearts of the marginalized masses, the social democratic parties in countries including Germany, Spain and Italy have all seen a collapse in votes, and in the United Kingdom, the Labour party has become arguably Marxist. 

    From all sides of the conflict, it’s clear that capitalism today is only benefiting the few at the top. Rather than perpetuating hateful nationalist sentiments, we need to cultivate a sense of patriotism, or a willingness to support one’s country felt by all citizens. In short, to create a system that works, we’re going to need to find our way back toward communitarianism.

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    What is The Future of Capitalism about?

    The Future of Capitalism (2018) offers a candid analysis of capitalism that calls for a return to communitarian ethics to mend rifts between families, communities and nations. Diagnosing the failings of modern liberalism, Paul Collier proposes the reintroduction into economic thinking of ethical concerns. He also suggests pragmatic policies that might forge a capitalism that works for everyone.

    The Future of Capitalism Review

    The Future of Capitalism (2018) by Paul Collier offers a thought-provoking analysis of the flaws and potential solutions within capitalism. Here are three reasons why this book is worth reading:

    • With its insightful research and in-depth understanding of economics, it presents a compelling argument for the need to reform capitalism.
    • The book goes beyond theory and provides practical recommendations to address inequality, poverty, and environmental challenges, making it a valuable resource for policymakers and activists.
    • Through engaging storytelling and relevant examples, it keeps readers interested and offers a fresh perspective on the future of our economic system.

    Best quote from The Future of Capitalism

    Populism offers the headless heart; ideology offers the heartless head.

    —Paul Collier
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    Who should read The Future of Capitalism?

    • Students of political science and economics
    • Policy makers interested in cultivating a new center left
    • Skeptics of capitalism’s potential

    About the Author

    Paul Collier is a world-renowned economist and author of the award-winning The Bottom Billion (2007). Formerly director of development research at the World Bank, Collier is professor of economics and director of the Center for the Study of African Economies at Oxford University.

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    The Future of Capitalism FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Future of Capitalism?

    The main message of The Future of Capitalism is the need for inclusive and sustainable economic growth.

    How long does it take to read The Future of Capitalism?

    The reading time for The Future of Capitalism varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in around 15 minutes.

    Is The Future of Capitalism a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Future of Capitalism is a thought-provoking read that provides insights into the challenges and potential solutions for a fairer and more prosperous society.

    Who is the author of The Future of Capitalism?

    The author of The Future of Capitalism is Paul Collier.

    What to read after The Future of Capitalism?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Future of Capitalism, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • PostCapitalism by Paul Mason
    • Saving Capitalism by Robert B. Reich
    • Reimagining Capitalism in a World on Fire by Rebecca Henderson
    • Capitalism by James Fulcher
    • A History of God by Karen Armstrong
    • The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
    • The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle
    • Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell
    • All It Takes Is a Goal by Jon Acuff
    • 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang