There is a growing body of critical work out there that attacks the foundation of "neo-liberalism" , that strain of economic theory which exalts "free" markets, "free" trade, privitization, de-regulation ,etc. Books such as Naomi Kliens Shock Doctrine or Janet Napoleanos Rogue Economics document the turn from Keynsian models to a "Chicago School" program built on the theoretical work of people like Milton Friedman. Other economists, notably Walden Bello and Joseph Stiglitz have long been critics of "laissez -faire" market worship as well as post-80's so -called "development strategies" by Bretton-Woods institutions such as the world Bank, WTO and IMF. I even heard a Cato Institute spokesperson today denouncing the "crony capitalism" that supposedly got us into this latest economic recession, with it's complex financialization schemes and government/ corporate collusion.
These critics from both the left and the right seem to me to be implying that it is just a TYPE of capitalism that is problematic and that it can somehow be reformed to better avoid periods of crisis or deliver more social benefits more fairly or whatever. They seem to me to be avoiding the truth and provide neither prescription nor explanation for how to keep these vicious cycles from constantly repeating themselves. Each "progressive" advancement towards social democratic models has inevitably and invariably drifted back to the anarchy of unrestrained profit taking and one need look no further than Americas flirtation with Keynsian reforms or the "free "market drift of European economies to see that the problem lies in the core logic of the capitalist system and not with some derivative form of some kind.
The libertarians insist a more purely unfettered market will lift all boats this proves to be utopian fantasy world possible only in a theoretical sense. This is why I put the quotation marks around free. Were such a pure equalibrium achievable, it would be a nasty Hobbsian world of each against all with a merciless division of winners and losers. It would require a suspension of all moral sensibilities but even so, the presupposition that it could remain uncorrupted by either monopoly forces, political schemes or "bleeding hearts" is what makes it irrational.
As much as I admire Naomi Klien she (and others of her ilk) remains unwilling to admit that the democracy she craves is impossible given capitalisms ability to reproduce it's own ideology through market exchange. It's internal logic renders her prescriptions anti-historical and unrealistic.
The solidly unrepentent anti-capitalist Michael Albert explains his forward thinking and rationally designed participatory economic system to a gathering in Venezuela here.