Capitalism and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century: A Global Future Beyond Nationalism, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Capitalism and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century

A Global Future Beyond Nationalism, 1st Edition

By Gavin Kitching


138 pages

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This short book makes a connection between recent ‘tectonic shifts’ in the world economy and the political problems currently confronted by western democracies.

The shift of manufacturing away from the West, allied to the pressure to keep costs down in an increasingly competitive global economy, has led to economic inequality, reliance on service industry employment and public sector austerity. All this has in turn produced large numbers of desperate citizens attracted to a populist economic nationalism accompanied by xenophobia. However, the originality of this text lies not in the above argument, but in the philosophical reflections which drive and derive from it. These include reflections on history as a supposed causal process; on the need to make ethical judgements of economic activities and the difficulties of doing so; and on the problems confronting modern citizens in understanding complex economic processes and their political implications.

Capitalism and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century endorses Wittgenstein’s ‘praxis’ approach to human social life and its study. Accordingly, it not only analyses economic and political problems but suggests ways of solving or mitigating them. In doing so it relies on Marx’s conviction that our capacity to see certain phenomena as problems is at least a priori evidence that they can be solved. This book will appeal to undergraduate and postgraduate students of politics, comparative politics, political economy and international relations.


"Gavin Kitching has written a readable and accessible introduction to questions concerning economic inequality, globalisation, and the contemporary problems of capitalism and democracy. Kitching goes beyond an exploration of these issues to develop proposals for regulating global capitalism. This book should be essential reading for anyone interested in understanding the impact of transnational capitalism on inequality and democracy." Marc Williams, UNSW Sydney.

"Gavin Kitching is a clear and courageous thinker, who brings philosophy, ethics, history and economics together in an analysis of the future of democracy that gives us lucid reasons for hope."Michael Ignatieff, President, Central European University

"Capitalism and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century: A Global Future Beyond Nationalism is a most timely, important and original book. The author is much influenced by late Wittgenstein and inspired by Eric Hobsbawm. He has a philosopher’s take on the major events and issues that confront the modern world — the rise of giant multinational oligopolies, the impact of globalisation, deregulation of capital markets, decline in trust of politicians and democratic institutions, and climate change. Using empirical findings on all these happenings, he conjectures about what may happen, and about what needs to (and can) be done about them. He draws on his critical understanding of modern economics and philosophical ideas. Altogether, this is a must-read for serious professionals and citizens deeply concerned about what is happening around them."Geoffrey C. Harcourt, UNSW Sydney

Table of Contents

1. The Present and the Future

2. The Lasting Significance of Our Present

3. Contemporary Capitalism and Possible Futures

4. Globalisation

5. Globalisation, Austerity and the Intensification of Competition

6. Nationalist Democracy

7. Globalisation and Democratic Legitimacy

8. Democracy’s Achilles Heel

9. Economic Growth, Dangers and Possibilities

10. Regulating a Globalised Capitalism

11. Conclusions: A Human Future

About the Author

Gavin Kitching is an Emeritus Professor of Politics in the School of Social Sciences, University of New South Wales, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. In a career spanning nearly 50 years he has made award-winning contributions to the fields of African studies, development studies, the politics and economics of globalisation, and the philosophy of social science.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Political