ABSTRACT

When looking forward rather than looking backward, one thing in particular is always missing: the empirical record of actual events. That is why projecting a thing such as capitalism forward in time requires a different sort of thought process and a different sort of evidence-not a reliance on hard data so much as a pursuit of theoretical understanding, not the accumulation of the record of things done so much as a sense of potential trajectories. But projections of capitalism and its future, if done well, are not arbitrary things: rather they grow in an organic fashion out of an understanding of how economies have worked in the past and how trends have built up in the present. We have seen already that from its inception capitalism demonstrated a capacity for both growth and recession, plus more recently, in its core areas at least, a capacity to combine general affluence with the persistence of significant inequalities in income and wealth. We have seen capitalism emerge out of, and ultimately obliterate, other ways of organizing economic life, while at the same time sustaining in modified forms older patterns of life and thought; and we have seen capitalism generate a new morality based on market values that ultimately sits in tension with moralities based on precapitalist institutions and modes of being. It is now time to pull together all this ebb and flow of capitalism and its context, in a

final conversation about economic growth and its problems, about inequality and its consequences, about markets and their limits, and about the clash of the old and the new in a world full of production and trade.