Democracy, equality, capitalism, and progress are framing ideas so fundamental today, yet all four are coming under various kinds of pressure. Does democracy work? What does equality mean? Is capitalism sustainable, ecologically or socially? Is progress real, and, if it is, can it also go backward? This seminar examines this issue through an historical examination of these four ideas. We will focus on competing understandings of the relationship between the political order (today widely assumed to be democratic in some form if it is to be legitimate) and the economic order (today widely assumed to be a version of free-market capitalism). Throughout, we will consider how conceptions of progress and equality provide essential support for versions of these accounts of the relationship between economics and politics. This is a year long course.
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