Roberto Mangabeira Unger


The National Development Agenda of China: The Next Step

The Professor visited the State Council Research Center in China on October 27, 2017 for a discussion on the next step on the national development agenda of China. The other two parts of this three part series are in this playlist.

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Imagining National Alternatives: Beyond Mental Colonialism in Economic, Legal, and Social Theory

The Professor visited Tsinghua in China on October 25, 2017 for a discussion on imagining national alternatives beyond mental colonialism in economic, legal, and social theory. The other part of this two part series is in this playlist.

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Making National Alternatives: China, Brazil, and the Path to National Development Now

The Professor visited Tsinghua in China on October 24, 2017 for a discussion on making national alternatives: China, Brazil, and the path to national development now. The other two parts of this three part series are in this playlist.

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China and the Alternatives Futures of the Knowledge Economy

The Professor visited the Central Party School in China on October 23, 2017 for a discussion on China and the alternative futures of the Knowledge Economy.

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The Progressive Alternative in a European Context

The first text below is an agenda I prepared for a meeting on the constitution of the European Union that was held at Harvard University in March 2002. Although it is a mere sketch, I place it here because it suggests a way of thinking about how European social democracy can be reinvented rather than hollowed out in this period of globalization and European integration. The relation between the commitment to develop the European difference and the effort to inspire differences within Europe — democracy as a machine for the production of distinction and novelty — is the overriding theme.

The second text, “Spain and its Future,” written late in 2001 for a Spanish newspaper, provides an example of how I imagine beginning a progressive programmatic argument today in a particular European national setting. An English translation is in progress.

The Progressive Alternative in a Chinese Context

Alongside a passage about China and its alternative futures, you will find here an article I wrote with Zhiyuan Cui and published in the New Left Review. There is no more important place in which to establish the debate about the alternative. An undercurrent of anguish and excitement in that great country presages its engagement in this discussion.

The Progressive Alternative in a Mexican Context

This letter of July 30, 2001 to President Vicente Fox of Mexico, was written at his request. It proposes a program of economic recovery and social reconstruction intended to turn a severe recession into a transformative opportunity. The letter seeks to answer the question: What, in the circumstances of a particular country like Mexico, is the most effective form of a Rooseveltian program today?

Out of desperation and faced with a global economic slowdown, progressive economists are tempted to return to vulgar, demand-oriented Keynesianism. There is a better alternative, connecting cumulative breakthroughs in supply constraints with cumulative breakthroughs in demand constraints and using the imperative of economic recovery as a chance to democratize the market and to deepen democracy. Many of the devices I propose are specific to Mexican realities, but the broad direction of the response is meant to address a predicament common to many countries now.

I had spoken with then Governor Fox over several years in the setting of meetings Jorge Castañeda (now Foreign Minister of Mexico) and I organized to bring together centrist and leftist forces in Latin America in the formulation of an alternative to neoliberalism. My attempt to persuade the President to become Roosevelt rather than Hoover has obviously failed. The debate and the struggle, however, in Mexico and in the world, are only beginning.

My letter to President Fox has now (February 2002) begun to provoke some discussion in Mexico. My first response to the discussion has been the “Tesis Mexicanas” that follow the letter in this part of the site.

Below the letter and the text I attach the introduction (México y la mediocridad) and the postscript (México sin miedo: el rumbo del país ahora) to “La Segunda Vúa: La Alternativa Progresista” (Grupo Editorial Porría, Mexico City), a Spanish language translation of “Democracy Realized: The Progressive Alternative,” accompanied by a Spanish language translation of my pamphlet “A Segunda Via: Presente e Futuro do Brasil,” republished in my Brazilian book of that same name. The introduction was written in early 2001. The postscript was written in August 1999.

The Russian National Project

China’s Future: Five Fateful Choices

The Labor Party and the British Alternative

A Productivity Revolution in Britain

By Chuka Umunna and Roberto Mangabeira Unger, which appeared in the New Statesmen on March 3, 2015.

Reshaping the State: A New Mission to British Progressives

By Jeremy Cliffe and Roberto Mangabeira Unger, which appeared in the New Statesmen on March 17, 2015.

Remaking the Democratic Party

Brazil and the United States: Their National Futures

Progressive Alternatives and National Projects

The Task of Political Theory

Address to The American Political Science Association in Chicago on August 30, 2013.

What is Wrong with The Social Sciences Today?

An interview given to the Social Science Bites podcast / BBC on November 15, 2013.

Deep Freedom

An interview given to the Social Science Bites podcast / BBC on November 15, 2013.

The Prophetic Task of Legal Thought

The Clough Lecture, delivered at Boston College, October 16, 2014.

A Program for Late Twentieth-Century Psychiatry

Presented as the William C. Menninger Memorial Convocation Lecture at the 133rd annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, San Francisco, May 3-9, 1980. Published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 139:2, February 1982, pp. 155-164.


These occasional pieces represent yet another attempt to reconsider general ideas about society and personality from the vantage point of a particular practical domain. The little lecture “The Better Futures of Architectures” was part of a debate with Jacques Derrida. The subsequent letter grew out of conversations, prompted by the lecture, with Rem Koolhaass and Frank Gehry.