Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


James Oakes

Subject Categories

Economic History | History | International Relations


Namibia, Basic Income, Wealth Inequality


Has the success of corporate capitalism undermined the neoliberal ideas it presupposes, leading to the inevitable growth of socialism? While labor unions may lament the export of jobs, the real issue in today’s increasingly administered and mechanized economy is the global loss of jobs. James Ferguson has provided a strong argument that despite the triumphalist narratives of neoliberalism, capitalist development strategies particularly in South Africa have resulted in concentrated wealth, large unemployment, and the growth of transfer payments. More importantly, he shows how traditional critics of capitalism fall short in addressing the issues of a jobless future. For example, Marxists lack the ability to envision production dissociated from distribution. Other critics of neoliberalism provide little less than their criticisms, offering no real remedies. Surveying the sources of poverty and wealth inequality in Southern Africa has real implications for poverty policy in the US, as there exists a common structural mechanism in global capitalist relations. The successes and failures of redistribution models abroad can serve as a useful tool in imagining a future where full employment becomes more and more of a distant fantasy due to both global trade and automation of labor. Basic Income Grants have emerged in the political discourse outside of the US in both the North and South. Likewise, in the aftermath of the global economic crisis of 2008, Conditional Cash Transfers have grown throughout Latin America, Africa, with some experimentation even in the US. The success of cash payments worldwide in efficiently and effectively relieving poverty provides possible rebuttals for those that claim that handouts create a lazy, unmotivated labor force. It will be imperative for the US to begin to imagine the more democratic ideals inherent in transfer payments. Can a political solution based on a distributive economy develop in the US? This paper will attempt to make a case for such an argument. A look at the structural transformations of capitalism in the 20th century will reveal how neoclassical, neoliberal and Marxist models fail to meet the unique economic conditions of the US in the 21st century.