As Krzysztof Pelc argues in Beyond Self-Interest, this assumption no longer reflects reality. There is a limit to the returns of self-interest, and in a growing number of settings, this limit has been reached. The true idols of market society are those who deny their self-interest or at least appear to do so. This was the case with 17th-century Puritans, who pursued a divinely ordained calling and yet still prospered; and 19th-century Utopian communes and their 1960s hippie successors, who turned themselves into flourishing commercial enterprises despite their anti-capitalist mindset. Today, the world’s fastest-growing firms are applying these lessons, styling themselves after passionate Utopians. They are ‘changing the world’, ‘building global communities’, ‘doing what they love’ – anything, in fact, but seeking profit. And in doing so, they are making a killing.
Drawing on three centuries of thought about commercial society, from Enlightenment thinkers to contemporary novelists, philosophers, and social scientists, Beyond Self-Interest is a book to redefine how we conceive of capitalism.