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Karl Marx remains deeply important today not as the man who told us what to replace capitalism with, but as someone who brilliantly pointed out what was inhuman and alienating about it.
Adam Smith was no uncritical apologist for capitalism: he wanted to understand how capitalism could be both fruitful and good.
How do you get a society that provides basic decent services to all citizens? Political theorist John Rawls had a good idea, and it was called ‘the veil of ignorance.’
We are taught to think of modern civilization as inherently ‘better’ than the pre-industrial age – and take great pride in our gadgets and technology. That’s why we need to tap into the caustic, liberating mindset of the great American political thinker, Thoreau – who escaped modern civilization to go and live in a cabin in the woods.
William Morris wanted to change the way workers approach their jobs and how consumers decide what they want to buy.
John Ruskin was an art critic who believed the immorality of 19th century capitalism could be highlighted by one thing above all others: the ugliness of the environment. Leaving art criticism behind, he threw himself into politics and set out to try to change capitalism.
h/t Open Culture.
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