1st Edition

Capitalism for Realists Virtues and Vices of the Modern Economy

By Tibor Rutar Copyright 2023
    188 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    188 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    In an age of extreme political polarization and waning of reasoned debate across political divides, Capitalism for Realists carefully explores the inner workings of capitalism in a consciously non-partisan and balanced way. Does the modern capitalist economy alleviate poverty and exploitation, or exacerbate them? What, exactly, is ‘neoliberalism,’ and how well or poorly has it performed in the past 40 years? Does capitalism undermine democracy, or is it rather one of its key necessary conditions? How have altruism, cooperation, tolerance, violence, and trust fared under the influence of the modern market society? Should we analyse capitalism through the mainstream economic lens or a more critical Marxist perspective? This book offers answers to these questions.

    Synthesizing decades of research across disciplines, Capitalism for Realists offers an overarching perspective on the modern economy by theoretically unifying many of the claims and conclusions about it offered by various traditionally rivalrous social science paradigms, such as institutional, neoclassical, and public choice economics on the one hand, and Marxist sociology on the other. The book presents and critically assesses the latest data and debates on such crucial contemporary issues as the relationship between poverty, exploitation, inequality, and capitalism, the nature of ‘neoliberalism’ and the successes and failures of both state-led industrial policy and the Washington consensus, capitalist peace theory, historical origins of modern capitalism, and more. What emerges is a clear picture of the merits and demerits of the modern economy too nuanced to be simplified and categorized by the prevailing political discourses.

    Rich in empirical detail, this lively, accessible book will appeal to undergraduate and graduate students with interests in sociological theory, political theory, economics, and political and economic sociology.

    1. Capitalism’s critics and defenders: A possibility of reconciliation  2. Historic origins: More political-economic in nature than cultural  3. A nuanced look at poverty, exploitation, and inequality  4. Capitalism globalized: The spectre of neoliberalism and the ambitions of industrial policy  5. But capitalism corrupts our morals, does it not?  6. Conclusion: What about the environment?


    Tibor Rutar is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Maribor, Slovenia, and author of Rational Choice and Democratic Government: A Sociological Approach (Routledge, 2021).

    'This book is an engaging investigation of the received wisdom – and received prejudices – about capitalism, neoliberalism, markets, and market activity. With subtlety and nuance, it shows that much of this received wisdom does not stand up to investigation. People of all ideological stripes will learn something from – and be challenged by – this book. It deserves to be read by all those working on the moral foundations of market society.' - Jason Brennan, Georgetown University, USA

    'If you’re an anti-neoliberal or an anti-capitalist or a Marxist, you owe it to yourself to read this book and grapple with its evidence and reasoning.' - Lane Kenworthy, author of Social Democratic Capitalism and Would Democratic Socialism Be Better?

    'Rutar [...] tries hard to catalog what parts of the enormous Marxist apparatus are useful, and what parts are unique to Marx. His analytical conclusion, one that I share whole-heartedly, is that there are many parts that are useful, and there are many parts that are unique and can be found only in Marx’s work. The problem is that the overlap, arguments that are both useful and unique to Marx, is not large, and certainly far smaller than the grandiose claims made for Marxism by its most dogmatic adherents.'  - Michael C. Munger, Duke University, USA, and author of The Sharing Economy and Tomorrow 3.0

    'Rutar is that rarest of species: a former Marxist turned social democrat who retains a healthy degree of respect for (non-vulgar) Marxism [...] Capitalism for Realists tries to chart a narrow path between adopting a Marx-inflected critical stance on the modern global economy, while chastising the hard left for not appreciating all the good capitalism has done for the least well off. [...] [A] very thoughtful, well written, and richly analytical book which should provoke a healthy dialogue from across the political spectrum.' - Matt McManus, University of Michigan, USA, author of A How To Guide to Cosmopolitan Socialism and The Political Right and Equality

    “What ultimately emerges from Capitalism for Realists is that, when one considers the available data, capitalism’s critics are often wide of the mark. Indeed, it would appear that in some cases, capitalism is often correlated with (and is perhaps the cause of) the very opposite of the faults of which it is accused. The writing is accessible in the main, though […] some of the more detailed statistical discussions can be hard to follow, but this evidence is fundamental to the book’s very project of offering a realistic rather than an ideological assessment. Overall, this is a fairly specialist work which offers a nuanced, balanced, evidence-based analysis of how the modern economy works and what its effects might be.” – Neil Jordan, The Centre for Enterprise, Markets and Ethics, UK