What Should the Left Propose? is a manifesto that engages a vital issue of our time: the program for which Leftists should stand, now that the ideological proposals of the past two hundred years are exhausted.
Confronting the major debates in the world today — about national alternatives and alternative globalizations — Unger shows that there is a set of national and global alternatives that we can begin to develop with the materials at hand: opportunities available to us only if we learn to recognize them. These alternatives would, over time, vastly enhance our practical capabilities. They would also give greater reality to the central teaching of democracy: faith in the constructive genius of ordinary men and women.
For Unger, a programmatic argument is not a blueprint; it marks a direction and explores next steps. He explores the form this direction could take in the European social democracies, in the United States, in the developing countries, and in the contest over the reform of globalization. He shows how the Left in power can do more than use compensatory redistribution to sugarcoat economic inequality, and how it can make good on its ideals without reaffirming a discredited commitment to governmental control of the economy.
“Roberto Mangabeira Unger is a restless visionary.”—New York Times
“A philosophical mind out of the Third World turning the tables, to become a synoptist and seer of the First.”—Perry Anderson
“[Unger] does not make moves in any game we know how to play …[His] book may someday make possible a new national romance … [It] will help the literate … citizens of some country to see vistas where before they saw only dangers … see a hitherto undreamt-of national future.”—Richard Rorty