Office of Sustainability IUB


The political and economic developments of the past six years have triggered vibrant debates on the nature and future of capitalism. They have reopened old questions and invited us to rethink a few issues and themes that some might have considered as closed or settled.

Our program for academic year 2013–14 will provide a public forum for investigating the underlying principles and institutions of capitalism (e.g., individual rights, private property, contracts, voluntary associations, entrepreneurship, the rule of law, limited government). Special attention will also be paid to the arguments put forward by capitalism’s critics over time. In keeping with the famous dictum Audite et alteram partem (“Listen even to the other side”), we want to help students take those differing perspectives and confront contrary views with an open and active mind.

We will invite distinguished lecturers from different fields and ideological perspectives who would address the theoretical and historical background pertaining to the topics under investigation. They will explore themes such as: Revisiting Adam Smith’s famous “invisible hand” and the effectiveness of market institutions in the allocation of information and scarce resources; inequality and the moral foundations of capitalism, the relationship between liberty and equality revisited; the issue of minimal state vs. welfare state reconsidered. There are various national variants of state capitalism, and the differences among them would make for a fascinating debate. These forms of state capitalism have one thing in common as they allow politicians to have far more power than they would under liberal capitalism. Equally important is the rise of new economic actors along with the state, with governments and multinationals becoming more sophisticated players and actors.

Our speakers will give individual talks on one particular theme and/or attend roundtables on each of the topics mentioned below. In line with the research carried out by the Ostrom Workshop, which hosts the Tocqueville Program, we will also feature a final event honoring the intellectual legacy of Elinor and Vincent Ostrom, exploring the issues of polycentricity, decentralization, and self-government. The fall events will be sponsored by a grant received from the College Arts & Humanities Institute at IU, while the spring events will be sponsored by a grant received from the Charles Koch Foundation.

Friday April 18, 2014 11:30 AM
Friday April 18, 2014 01:00 PM
Indiana Memorial Union Oak Room
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