The essay should be within the range of 6-8 pages/1500-2000 words (double spaced, 12-point font, 2.5 cm margins) and is due on April 3 at 11:59 p.m. Students must select and respond to one of the following four essay questions in writing this essay:
1. Is the contemporary system of global capitalism heading into the biggest “progress trap” in human history as described by Ronald Wright? How are global problems such as climate change or economic inequality within or between countries characteristic of the progress trap as discussed by Wright? Reflecting on arguments from Wright’s book or the film, Surviving Progress, explain how the ideology of progress might prevent us from seeing progress traps and what we might do to avoid their worst impact.
2. Does capitalism promote or undermine individual freedom? Compare and contrast Milton Friedman and David McNally’s arguments and their respective conceptions of capitalism, individual freedom, and the relationship between them.
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3. Are large corporations and their brands a threat to democracy within capitalist economies or can corporations contribute to the broader societal well-being? Do you agree or disagree with Milton Friedman that the only responsibility of a business is to make a profit for its “shareholders” and provide low prices to consumers or are you in favour of the “stakeholder” view of capitalism?
4. Can the “democratic capitalism” described by Adam Przeworski serve to meet the challenges of technological change such as automation or environmental problems such as climate change or micro-plastics pollution? Drawing on Karl Polanyi’s concept of the “double movement”, as outlined in the reading by Michael Behrent, describe the tensions involved in reforming capitalism and consider whether democratic capitalism can serve to solve a particular contemporary social, political, or environmental problem.