Islam and the Economic Challenge
The collapse of socialism and its centrally-planned economies in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe has raised a host of critical questions for all concerned with the ideological future of mankind. Does this represent the final demise of the socialist system and the unequivocal victory of the Western doctrine of economic and political liberalism, as is being claimed by some of the enthusiasts of Western capitalism, heralding the 'end of history', or does it constitute yet another phase in the never-ending ebb and flow of history? Does the fall of socialism of itself vindicate capitalism? If socialism has collapsed under the weight of its contradictions and inequalities does that necessarily mean that capitalism has overcome its own historical contradictions, injustices and failures? If the rise of socialism was owed, at least in part, to certain perceived failures of capitalism, how can its collapse mean that those failures (which prompted the search for alternatives) were illusory? Euphoria at the fall of a false god aside, the critical questions that still perplex the mind and conscience of man crave cogent answers.
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The Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences
Timur Kuran is Professor of Economics and Political Science, and Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University. His research focuses on (1) social change, including the evolution of preferences and institutions, and (2) the economic and political history and modernization of the Middle East. His current projects include a study of the role that the Middle East’s traditional institutions played in its poor political performance, as measured by democratization and human liberties.