Rising inequality of income and power, along with the recent convulsions in the finance sector, have made the search for alternatives to unbridled capitalism more urgent than ever. Yet there has been a global retreat by the Left: on the assumption that liberal capitalism is the only game in town, political theorists tend to dismiss as utopian any attempt to rethink our social and economic relations. As Fredric Jameson first argued, it is now easier for us to imagine the end of the world than an alternative to capitalism. Erik Olin Wright's "Envisioning Real Utopias" is a comprehensive assault on the quietism of contemporary social theory. Building on a lifetime's work analyzing the class system in the developed world, as well as exploring the problem of the transition to a socialist alternative, Wright has now completed a systematic reconstruction of the core values and feasible goals for Left theorists and political actors. "Envisioning Real Utopias" aims to put the social back into socialism, laying the foundations for a set of concrete, emancipatory alternatives to the capitalist system.
Characteristically rigorous and engaging, this will become a landmark of social thought for the twenty-first century.
Erik Olin Wright is Vilas Distinguished Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin. He is the editor of the Real Utopias series, which includes his Deepening Democracy (cowritten with Archon Fung), and is the author of many other books, including Class Counts, Interrogating Inequality, The Debate on Classes and Classes.