What Was Capitalism?

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In 1888, in Edward Bellamy’s best-selling novel Looking Backward, a time-trav- eler wakes in the year 2000 to a social- ist utopia. A recently discovered manu- script—this one from the future—de- scribes for people of the year 2176 what life was like in the 2000s. Written by the Earth History Collective, it was retrieved by Sanjiv Gupta of the DSA National Po- litical Education Committee. —Eds

Capitalism was dominant for several centuries. Today, it seems alien, even abhorrent: How could people have lived like that? Yet capitalism trained millions of people to work together to do amazing things, like doubling the average human lifespan. But only a few people reaped most of its benefits. This created a vast gap between its promises and its realities, reflected in everyday experiences with money, work, time, and freedom.

Read the full article in the Winter 2021 issue of Democratic Left.