Transcending Capitalism explains why many influential midcentury American social theorists came to believe it was no longer meaningful to describe modern Western society as "e;capitalist,"e; but instead preferred alternative terms such as "e;postcapitalist,"e; "e;postindustrial,"e; or "e;technological."e; Considering the discussion today of capitalism and its global triumph, it is important to understand why a prior generation of social theorists imagined the future of advanced societies not in a fixed capitalist form but in some course of development leading beyond capitalism.
Howard Brick locates this postcapitalist vision within a long history of social theory and ideology. He challenges the common view that American thought and culture utterly succumbed in the 1940s to a conservative cold war consensus that put aside the reform ideology and social theory of the early twentieth century. Rather, expectations of the shift to a new social economy persisted and cannot be disregarded as one of the elements contributing to the revival of dissenting thought and practice in the 1960s.
Rooted in a politics of social liberalism, this vision held influence for roughly a half century, from its interwar origins until the right turn in American political culture during the 1970s and 1980s. In offering a historically based understanding of American postcapitalist thought, Brick also presents some current possibilities for reinvigorating critical social thought that explores transitional developments beyond capitalism.