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Four Implications of Permanent Plutocracy

Thursday Lecture Series, Exhaustion

dateApril 2, 2015 timeThursday, 12:10pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Second Floor Common Room, Columbia University
Two older people holding signs protesting government corruption

Liberals today almost universally conceive of plutocracy as a problem that in principle will be satisfactorily corrected in a well-ordered liberal-democratic regime. Against this, Green argues that plutocracy is an inescapable problem that cannot be fully solved—at least not so long as there is private property and the family—and thereby generates a second-order challenge for liberals committed to social justice: not just how to reduce plutocracy, but how to retrospectively respond to the plutocracy that always will have existed in liberal-democratic states. The problem of plutocracy explains why a purely idealized project of liberal-democracy ought to be seen as having exhausted itself.