What is capitalism? Has the development of capitalism marked an advance or crisis for humankind and the earth? When did capitalism emerge and is it still a relevant concept? The objective of this course is to introduce students to the idea and critique of capitalism. The course examines the historical rise, concepts, categories, and crisis of what is referred to as the age of capital or capitalism. It starts with Adam Smith and the case he details for a modern form of political economy based on commerce, international trade, and manufactures. The course will then move to consider the work of Karl Marx and the crisis wrought by the Industrial Revolution, which, he believed, transformed the significance of the categories of political economy, such as labor, the commodity, and value. Different theories on origins of capitalism by Max Weber and Karl Polayni will be introduced and the course will conclude by paying attention to the transformations of capitalism in the twentieth century and the social and political consequences of those changes as understood by Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and David Harvey.
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