The recent economic crisis was a dramatic reminder that capitalism can both produce and destroy. It’s a system that by its very nature encourages predators and creators, locusts and bees. But, as Geoff Mulgan argues in this compelling, imaginative, and important book, the economic crisis also presents a historic opportunity to choose a radically different future for capitalism, one that maximizes its creative power and minimizes its destructive force.
In an engaging and wide-ranging argument, Mulgan digs into the history of capitalism across the world to show its animating ideas, its utopias and dystopias, as well as its contradictions and possibilities. Drawing on a subtle framework for understanding systemic change, he shows how new political settlements reshaped capitalism in the past and are likely to do so in the future. By reconnecting value to real-life ideas of growth, he argues, efficiency and entrepreneurship can be harnessed to promote better lives and relationships rather than just a growth in the quantity of material consumption. Healthcare, education, and green industries are already becoming dominant sectors in the wealthier economies, and the fields of social innovation, enterprise, and investment are rapidly moving into the mainstream — all indicators of how capital could be made more of a servant and less a master.
This is a book for anyone who wonders where capitalism might be heading next—and who wants to help make sure that its future avoids the mistakes of the past.
Geoff Mulgan is the author of Good and Bad Power (Penguin) and The Art of Public Strategy, among other books. A globally recognized pioneer in the field of social innovation, he was the founder of the think tank Demos and served as director of the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit and director of policy under Tony Blair. He is currently chief executive of the UK's National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts.
"Geoff Mulgan's extraordinary book strikes a balance between innovative thought and grounded pragmatism and serves as an urgent invitation to discourse—discourse about how we can harness the most inclusive aspects of capitalism and explore new approaches for our shared work of building the common good. Mulgan challenges us to find the best in ourselves and in the systems that provide the hope for human flourishing."—John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University
"Geoff Mulgan is a brilliant thinker—lucid, deep, and with a set of clear and progressive values. In this book he brings all his qualities to bear on the question of how we make capitalism productive, responsible, and fair. It should be read by anyone who wants to understand how to create a more equal and just world."—Ed Miliband, MP, leader of the UK Labour Party
"Geoff Mulgan has given us an important book: imaginative, erudite, wise. It answers the question of how capitalism can transform itself to create the kind of value that will be needed and prized by twenty-first-century citizens, a question that is at the root of so many current economic, social, and spiritual ills. Mulgan's vision of a capitalism that maintains and deepens human relationships is enormously attractive and eminently attainable."—Anne-Marie Slaughter, Princeton University
"Can we replace the predatory part of capitalism with something creative and morally uplifting? This book shows us that we can. With daring historical insights, Mulgan shows convincingly that societies can choose their own destiny."—Richard Layard, London School of Economics
"Geoff Mulgan has a disciplined mind and an adventurer's soul, and the result is a clear-eyed tale that brings creativity and courage to our most essential problems. Mulgan has a way of penetrating to the core of a question and then delivering an answer that makes a tremendous amount of sense. As a result, The Locust and the Bee is an inspiring handbook for CEOs and citizens alike. I'm delighted to have it at hand."—Joshua Cooper Ramo, vice chairman of Kissinger Associates and author of The Age of the Unthinkable
"Geoff Mulgan is one of the best theorists and practitioners of social innovation in the world today. In The Locust and the Bee he offers a penetrating account of contemporary market economies from the perspective of the contrast between those who create and those who pillage. He explores ideas, institutions, and practices that can ensure the triumph of the creators over the pillagers. Here is a handbook for practical visionaries, written by one of them."—Roberto Mangabeira Unger
"Geoff Mulgan weighs the creative and destructive powers of capitalism, arguing that these contrary forces can never be resolved; the genius of the system is that it is an endless work-in-progress. Many readers will disagree—I do—but he is unfailingly sensible and often provocative; this adult defense of capitalism deserves to be widely discussed."—Richard Sennett, London School of Economics