Book Review: Giacomo Corneo. Is Capitalism Obsolete? A Journey through Alternative Economic Systems (translated by Daniel Steuer). Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2017

Gasiano G.N. Sumbai


Giacomo Corneo is a professor of Social Policy and Public Finance at the Free University of Berlin, Germany. He starts his analysis by arguing that capitalism is increasingly becoming unpopular in Europe due to its being wasteful as demonstrated in widespread unemployment, injustice and alienation. He points out that high level of inequality in wealth possession is a real threat to both shared prosperity and democracy in Western Europe. His main problem is how to make the world a better place where people share wealth and prosperity. This ideal world could be achieved through adoption of an alternative economic system that would eliminate the basic contradiction found within capitalism, namely that between the social nature of production and the private mode of appropriation of wealth. Alhough capitalism applies advanced science and technology in creating more wealth, its ironic nature is such that a few people enjoy power, wealth and privileges over the poor who are the majority. This creates a polarized society based on appropriation of wealth- the rich on one end and the poor on the other. Corneo engages us in a debate to find out an alternative economic system that will do away with these imbalances in the appropriation and distribution of wealth. Currently, wealth, power and privileges are concentrated on few capitalists with powers to make decisions affecting billions of people in this world. Capitalist principles, laws and institutions promote and protect the right to private property and power. 


Capitalism, Social Policy, Democracy, Unemployment


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