Christian Parenti ’87

Since graduation from Buxton in 1987 Christian has been studying, writing and traveling the globe bringing attention to the issues of climate change and its relationship to political violence and economic development around the world.

After he received his PhD from the London School of Economics he left academia for 10 years to become a full time foreign correspondent. He reported from Afghanistan, Iraq, various parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America for The Nation, Fortune, The London Review of Books and The New York Times and he has written many books.

His fourth coming book, “The Means Proper” Alexander Hamilton on The State and Capitalism will be published next fall.

In an email he told us this:

The new book uses Hamilton’s experience as a soldier and statesman to explore some of the central questions in state theory and economic history: namely how does industrialization actually occur and what role does government actually play in the process. I think this question, which at first seems rather academic, has important implications for today. The crisis of climate change is forcing the world, including the USA, to transition off fossil fuels on to an energy economy based on renewables. This “greening” of the economy is essentially a project of re-industrialization. Therefore it would be good for us to recall the central role that government played in our original industrialization.

More specifically to Hamilton, we are in the midst of a Hamiltonian moment thanks to a big biography and then a musical. But there is a glaring omission in all this: Hamilton’s political economic magnum opus, his “1791 Report on The Subject of Manufactures”, is almost totally ignored by the economists, historians, development specialists, biographers, most social scientists, and to some extent, even playwrights. The Report’s opening paragraphs smash holes in Adam Smith’s core argument about the supposedly self-regulating market. Hamilton advocated for an economically active form of government, he supported economic planning and even some forms of public ownership.

 Christian is Associate Professor of Economics at John Jay College, CUNY, in NYC.

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