Charles Fourierinfluential early French socialist thinker Socialist models and ideas espousing common or public ownership have existed since antiquity. It has been claimed—though controversially—that there were elements of socialist thought in the politics of classical Greek philosophers Plato  and Aristotle. Christian socialism was one of the founding threads of the UK Labour Party and is said to be a tradition going back years to the uprising of Wat Tyler and John Ball .
As the pursuit of innovation has inspired technologists and capitalists, it has also provoked critics who suspect that the peddlers of innovation radically overvalue innovation.
What happens after innovation, they argue, is more important.
The fates of nations on opposing sides of the Iron Curtain illustrate good reasons that led to the rise of innovation as a buzzword and organising concept. Over the course of the 20th century, open societies that celebrated diversity, novelty, and progress performed better than closed societies that defended uniformity and order.
In the late s in the face of the Vietnam War, environmental degradation, the Kennedy and King assassinations, and other social and technological disappointments, it grew more difficult for many to have faith in moral and social progress.
Innovation provided a way to celebrate the accomplishments of a high-tech age without expecting too much from them in the way of moral and social improvement. Before the dreams of the New Left had been dashed by massacres at My Lai and Altamont, economists had already turned to technology to explain the economic growth and high standards of living in capitalist democracies.
Beginning in the late s, the prominent economists Robert Solow and Kenneth Arrow found that traditional explanations — changes in education and capital, for example — could not account for significant portions of growth. They hypothesised that technological change was the hidden X factor.
Their finding fit hand-in-glove with all of the technical marvels that had come out of the Second World War, the Cold War, the post-Sputnik craze for science and technology, and the post-war vision of a material abundance.
As Gordon explains, between andthe United States experienced an unprecedented — and probably unrepeatable — period of economic growth. That century saw a host of new technologies and new industries produced, including the electrical, chemical, telephone, automobile, radio, television, petroleum, gas and electronics.
Demand for a wealth of new home equipment and kitchen appliances, that typically made life easier and more bearable, drove the growth. Critics wondered if Nixon was wise to point to modern appliances such as blenders and dishwashers as the emblems of American superiority.
Nevertheless, growth was strongly tied to continued social improvement.
Yet, this need for booming new industries became problematic as the United States headed into the troubled times of the s and early s.
Whole economic sectors, the auto industry, for example, hit the skids.
Silicon Valley, a term that had just emerged in the late s, became the exemplar of innovation during this time. By the early s, books casting Silicon Valley as a land of almost magical technological ingenuity had begun to hit the market. Everywhere was potentially the next Silicon Valley of X.
During the s, scholars and pop audiences also rediscovered the work of Joseph Schumpeter. Schumpeter was an Austrian economist who championed innovation and its partner term, entrepreneurship.
At the turn of the millennium, in the world of business and technology, innovation had transformed into an erotic fetish. Armies of young tech wizards aspired to become disrupters.
The ambition to disrupt in pursuit of innovation transcended politics, enlisting liberals and conservatives alike. Conservative politicians could gut government and cut taxes in the name of spurring entrepreneurship, while liberals could create new programmes aimed at fostering research.
The idea was vague enough to do nearly anything in its name without feeling the slightest conflict, just as long as you repeated the mantra: A professional innovation consultant advised his clients to ban the word at their companies. Soon, even business publications began to raise the question of inherent worth.
Later that year, Businessweek warned: A professional innovation consultant it interviewed advised his clients to ban the word at their companies. Evidence has emerged that regions of intense innovation also have systemic problems with inequality. Inprotests erupted in San Francisco over the gentrification and social stratification symbolised by Google buses and other private commuter buses.
These shuttles brought high-tech employees from hip, pricey urban homes to their lush suburban campuses, without exposing them to the inconvenience of public transportation or to the vast populations of the poor and homeless who also call Silicon Valley their home. The dramatic, unnecessary suffering exposed by such juxtapositions of economic inequality seems to be a feature, not a bug of highly innovative regions.
There is a formulaic feel: Right now, the formula has brought society to a question: There are three basic ways to answer that question. First, it is crucial to understand that technology is not innovation. Innovation is only a small piece of what happens with technology. This preoccupation with novelty is unfortunate because it fails to account for technologies in widespread use, and it obscures how many of the things around us are quite old.JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary sources.
The final volume in the five-part series of Essays in the Political Economy of Australian Capitalism delivers eleven chapters with a total of nine of those tackling difference aspects of state power and transnational capital. This article may be too long to read and navigate comfortably.
Please consider splitting content into sub-articles, condensing it, or adding or removing subheadings. (June ). And now it is a nation that wants some things very much. In general, it knows what these things are. At home its people want continued growth, its leaders the stability that growth can buy.
Max Weber: Max Weber, German sociologist and political economist best known for his thesis of the ‘Protestant ethic,’ relating Protestantism to capitalism, and for his ideas on bureaucracy.
Learn about his life and works, his intellectual breadth, and his impact on the social sciences. Essays in the political economy of Australian Capitalism - Volume One by E.L & BUCKLEY, Ken eds.
WHEELWRIGHT. Australia and New Zealand Book Co, pp. Cover has light wear on the edges with fading on the spine.