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Roberto Mangabeira Unger


An exploration of the past and future agenda of progressives, whether self-described as liberals or as leftists. What should they propose, now that they no longer believe in the usefulness of governmental direction of the economy or in the sufficiency of redistributive social programs? A basic concern is the relation of programmatic thought to the understanding of change and constraint.

In the recent historical period, progressives have sought to humanize the established order rather than to reimagine and remake it.  Here the main focus is on institutional or structural change in the market system and in democratic politics.  Among the themes to be discussed are the nature and future of the knowledge economy, the status of free labor vis-à-vis capital, the relation of finance to production, the making of a high-energy democracy that no longer needs crisis to make change possible, and the education required by such economic and political alternatives.  A central theme throughout is the content and implications of the idea of freedom.

The course will draw on many disciplines and consider examples from many settings. It will try to develop ways of thinking as well as proposals for change.

Extended take-home examination.

Also offered by the Law School as 2391 and the Government Department as Government 1092. Please note, this is a jointly offered course hosted by another Harvard school and, accordingly, students must adhere to the academic and attendance policies of that school.