Capitalism moves mountains, sometimes literally. It’s unchallenged as the world’s dominant economic system. And yet, in its current form, capitalism is on trial as it hasn’t been for at least half a century. People across the political spectrum are questioning the status quo. Millions, young people especially, now see capitalism as the problem, not the solution. Others fear throwing out the baby with the bathwater. 

In Scene on Radio Season 7, Capitalism, host and producer John Biewen and co-host Ellen McGirt—longtime business and economics reporter and Editor in Chief of Design Observer Magazine—outline the history of capitalism, from its emergence in Europe 500 years ago up to the present. And they explore alternatives, from reforms of capitalism as we know it to more radical transformations.

The Story Editor for Capitalism is Loretta Williams.

  • Season 7 Trailer: Capitalism

    Season 7 Trailer: Capitalism

    Welcome to Season 7: Capitalism. The world’s dominant economic system is on trial as it hasn’t been for at least half a century. This season tells the story of capitalism — how people with power built and shaped it over time. We’ll also explore what to do now that many people see capitalism as the ...

  • S7 E1: Market Failure

    S7 E1: Market Failure

    Introduction to our 7th season: Capitalism. The world’s dominant economic system is on trial as it hasn’t been for at least half a century. Millions, young people especially, now see capitalism as the problem, not the solution. Others fear throwing out the baby with the bathwater.  By John Biewen, with co-host Ellen McGirt. Interviews with John Fullerton, ...

  • S7 E2: BC: Before Capitalism

    S7 E2: BC: Before Capitalism

    To fully grasp capitalism, it helps to understand the system it replaced – and the most meaningful differences between feudalism and capitalism. We visit the British Isles of the Middle Ages.   By John Biewen, with co-host Ellen McGirt. Interviews with Karen Dempsey, Ben Jervis, and Eleanor Janega.  Story editor: Loretta Williams. Music by Michelle Osis, Lilli Haydn, Alex ...

  • S7 E3: Ships, Swords, and Fences

    S7 E3: Ships, Swords, and Fences

    From the voyages of Columbus and Vasco da Gama to colonial conquest and the Atlantic Slave Trade, to the privatization of land in western Europe: humanity’s turn toward the capitalist world we live in now. By John Biewen, with co-host Ellen McGirt. Interviews with Jayati Ghosh, Jason Hickel, Jessica Moody, Charisse Burden-Stelly, Silvia Federici, and Eleanor Janega.  Story ...

  • S7 E4: Invisible Hand Guy?

    S7 E4: Invisible Hand Guy?

    Economic change happens in a cultural context. We trace the tectonic shifts in the Western mind that made capitalism thinkable – in part through a look at two Enlightenment thinkers: Baruch Spinoza and Adam Smith. (The realSmith, not the one often held up as the patron saint of unfettered capitalism.) By John Biewen, with co-host Ellen McGirt. Interviews with Kate Rigby, Glory ...