Review & Summary: Envisioning Real Utopias by Erik Olin Wright



Capitalism is bad because: It obstructs social and political justice.

  1. “Class relations perpetuate eliminable forms of human suffering.”
  2. “Blocks the universalization of conditions for expansive human flourishing.” (Includes alienation, material inequality, and destructive dehumanizing competition)
  3. “Perpetuates eliminable deficits in individual freedom and autonomy” (wage slavery)
  4. “Violates liberal egalitarian principles of social justice” (Pseudo-equality of opportunity)
  5. “Inefficient in certain crucial aspects” (Negative externalities, public goods, bias towards short term, private contract litigation, marketing, overjustification effect, opportunity cost of people with high potential dying in sweatshops. etc.)
  6. “Bias towards consumerism” (Potential gains in free time sacrificed for material with systemic deprivation of choice in the matter & ahistorical insistence that this is “human nature”
  7. “Environmentally destructive” (Externalities, short term bias, consumerism)
  8. “Commodifications threatens important broadly held values” (Childcare, safety, fine arts, religion)
  9. “Fuels militarism & imperialism” (Hickel, Blum, Stiglitz, Joon-Chang, Chomsky)
  10. “Corrodes community” “In greed other people are seen as possible sources of enrichment, and in fear they are seen as threats. These are horrible ways of seeing other people”
  11. “Limits democracy” (No democratic control over the means of production, or flow of capital, unequal political power. Economic inequality and democracy are incompatible. -Aristotle, James Madison, Chomsky)

Economic Systems

Alternatives: Socialism pluralistic model with many pathways. Seven discussed.

Real World Case Studies for Alternatives:


  1. Equal ownership by all citizens,
  2. Egalitarian democratic empowerment based on participation proportional to effects, (People get a larger say in decisions that affect them more.)
  3. Jobs as balanced complexes (Everyone does everything, reduce specialization/alienation of labor)
  4. Remuneration according to sacrifice and need.
  5. Economic coordination based on participatory planning worker and consumer councils plan production and consumption. Likely too complicated to be workable.

Social Reproduction

Gaps in Reproduction:

Methods of transformation:

Ruptural: Revolutionary Confront the bourgeoisie.

Interstitial: Anarchist Ignore the Bourgeoisie.

Symbiotic: Social Democrat Collaborate with the Bourgeoisie.



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