2010-11 Catalog

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Offering Description

Alternatives to Capitalism

Spring quarter

Faculty: Peter Dorman economics, political economy

Fields of Study: economics and political science

Spring: CRN (Credit) Level 30043 (16); 30462 (1-16) So - Sr  Signature Required Students must submit evidence of prior work in economics.  

Credits: 16(S)

Class Standing: Freshmen - Senior

Offered During: Day


Is there a viable alternative to capitalism as a system of economic organization? Does the collapse of communism mean that there can be debates only within capitalism, rather than between different systems? This program will provide a one-quarter survey of potential alternatives, as they have been written about and experimented with on a small scale. We will read detailed proposals and fictional visions, visit local non-capitalist institutions, and weigh the arguments on all sides. This is, above all, a program for people who need to clarify for themselves the economic dimension of their political commitments. Because it takes economic feasibility seriously, the program will consider the nuts and bolts of capitalism and anticapitalism: the role of markets and money, the organization of production, and the problem of incentives and coordination.

Prior work in economics is essential; some of the readings will be technically demanding. In addition to evaluating current proposals, we will also cover the socialist calculation debate of the 1930s in some detail, since it represents the most sustained examination of the potential for systematic economic planning. Further readings will update this controversy through the eyes of modern proponents and critics of socialism. The program will include field trips, visiting speakers and films. There will be one major piece of writing, either analyzing an existing vision or experiment, or constructing a new one. In order to practice what we preach, student governance will be an essential feature of this program.

Maximum Enrollment: 25

Preparatory for studies or careers in: economics, history, and political economy.

Campus Location: Olympia

Online Learning: Enhanced Online Learning

Books: www.tescbookstore.com