Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Capitalism and Confusion - Amartya Sen

The UChannel Podcast, also known as University Channel Podcast (audio feed, video feed), is a composite podcast which brings together lecture recordings from outstanding institutions all over the world. Among them are, The Council on Foreign Relations, The London School of Economics and the Royal Society for the Arts, which also have their own feeds out of which I review regularly.

The lectures are guest lectures on select topics, held by the leading authorities in the field. One such was a lecture at Cornell University by Professor Amartya Sen titled: Capitalism and Confusion. In this lecture Sen tackles some of the misconceptions about capitalism that are common in the wider public, but for the critical audience should hold no great surprises. Of course socialism has not been definitively defeated by capitalism. Of course capitalism cannot easily be defined. And of course, the crudest ideas about total freedom for market forces are not even held by a capitalist icon such as Adam Smith.

This is the first confusion that Sen addresses, but there is more confusion and more profound at that. Assuming that even Adam Smith accepted some level of government intervention in the market the confusion among capitalists as to how, when and to what extent becomes very compelling in the light of great global problems. Climate change, poverty, human rights and such are recognized by capitalists and are in need of effective address, but fail to get that address, even in capitalist theory.

More UChannel Podcast:
Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and the Middle East,
Taming Religion - Ian Buruma trilogy,
Averting the disasters of climate change,
Interfaith and Compassion,
Talent is overrated.

More Amartya Sen:
Justice.
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