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Steven Klein and Robert Meister

Authoritarian Capitalism: Financialization and the End of Democracy?

Thursday, February 23, 2023, 4:00pm

Social Science Research Building, Tea Room (2nd Floor)

Please join us as Steven Klein and Robert Meister discuss the changing relationship between democracy and capitalism in an era of finance.

Klein’s current book project develops a democratic critique of finance that disassociates democracy from the form and fiction of the sovereign state, which he argues is itself a creature of financial structures. Meister’s recent publication Justice Is an Option: A Democratic Theory of Finance for the Twenty-First Century (University of Chicago Press, 2021) returns to the spirit of Marx to diagnose our current age of finance, asking whether the very tools of finance that have created our vastly unequal world could instead be made to serve justice and equality.

This conversation will be moderated by 3CT fellow Jonathan Levy with an introduction by co-director Lisa Wedeen.


Steven Klein is a lecturer of political theory in the Department of Political Economy, King’s College, London. Klein’s research focuses on democratic theory, critical social theory,  theories of political economy, and the political theory of finance. His current project, “Systemic Risk and the Transformation of Democracy,” examines how large-scale risks like financial risk are undermining democratic institutions. It is supported by an ERC Starting Grant. He is the author of The Work of Politics: Making a Democratic Welfare State (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

Robert Meister is professor of social and political thought in the History of Consciousness Department at the University of California Santa Cruz, where he directs the Bruce Initiative on Rethinking Capitalism. His political thought concerns the moral relations between the beneficiaries of social and political injustice and its victims. Meister is the author of Justice Is an Option: A Democratic Theory of Finance for the Twenty-First Century (University of Chicago Press, 2021), After Evil: A Politics of Human Rights (Columbia University Press, 2011), and Political Identity: Thinking Through Marx (Blackwell Publishing, 1991).

This event is free and open to the public, and registration is recommended. Please email us at  if you require any accommodations to enable your full participation.

Masks are strongly recommended for all 3CT events. For more information about the University of Chicago’s COVID precautions and guidelines, please visit UChicago Forward.