Man works to live. – Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)
Man lives to work. – John Calvin (1509 – 1564)
Labor is both a central category in modern thought, and in economics. This course tracks critical formulations, describes the elementary economics of who is earning what, for what work, and questions the human cooperating condition. The class offers a schizodisciplinary synthesis of history of ideas, political economy and social anthropology.
Taxation and democracy can be thought of as two sides of the liberal-democratic, capitalist social contract: Democracy concerns the making of collectively binding decisions, and taxation is the chief means to implement these agreed-upon plans within the market exchanges of free agents. Taxation thereby delineates the boundary of private property and collective responsibility, but it also shapes the material conditions under which citizens exercise their political autonomy. Taxation and democracy, along with their mutual dependencies and contradictions, in short, are deeply implicated in social scientific questions of rule and power, social integration and inequality.
As institutions, they are also the (only?) site, where progress might happen. This seminar looks at two such reform proposals, equally radical and pragmatic: progressive taxation and deliberative democracy.