The Economics of Utopia: A Co-Evolutionary Model of Ideas, Citizens and Civilization
32 Pages Posted: 16 Dec 2015
Date Written: December 16, 2015
We propose a new history-friendly approach to evolutionary socio-economic dynamics based around competition between five ‘utopias’, as central ideas about which to order society: capitalism, socialism, democracy, nature, and nationalism (Montgomery and Chirot 2015). In our model, citizens contribute economic resources to their preferred utopia, and societal dynamics are explained as a co-evolutionary process between these competing utopias. Civilization emerges with competitive balance between these ideas, maximized when no one utopia dominates. We calibrate the model on a study of socio-economic and political change in the US from the 1960s-present. We cover such episodes as the outbreak of civil rights/pro-democracy movements in the 1970s, the rise of neo-liberalism in the 1980s, and the channels through which America engendered an ‘age of fracture’. Further applications for empirical and theoretical research are suggested.
Keywords: Utopia, civilization, citizen, subsystem, political economy, co-evolutionary modeling
JEL Classification: B52, O57, P16, P51, Z10
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