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World markets, national models / Intellectuals, the Reason for Their Malaise

Anno XXXIII, n. 146, settembre-ottobre 1998
Centro Einaudi


Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
A multiplicity of reasons dating from way back in time exist for the diffuse hostility of intellectuals towards capitalism. In ancient Greece Plato thought that the world should be governed by philosophers, and in the Middle Ages the Church was critical of those who were more concerned with wealth in this world than salvation in the afterlife. Nonetheless, only in the nineteenth century with the diffusion of mass industrial capitalism did the opposition of intellectuals to the socio-economic regime become, as it were, a postulate. Today, as globalisation continues to break down the barriers to freedom of exchange, the anti-capitalist arguments of intellectuals, albeit often based on mistaken economic assumptions, sometimes hit the mark. The economic ideal of global efficiency and the economic optimum is, quite simply, incompatible with the social optimum or even with no more than moderate stability.