Eva Bertram

Eva Bertram, an assistant professor of politics at Yale University, is the author of Drug War Politics: The Price of Denial along with Kenneth Sharpe, Morris Blachman and Peter Andreas.

Recent Articles

Capitalism, Work, and Character

Does work under today's capitalism corrode character? The very question seems odd because the character issue has largely been ceded to conservatives--and conservatives have studiously ignored the damaging effects of capitalism. But allowing them this monopoly diminishes the debate on character and misses an opportunity to deepen the critique of the transformation of work and markets under the new economy. As used by the right, character has meant primarily a set of virtues associated with personal responsibility--selfcontrol, duty, deferred gratification. Conservatives blame poverty and joblessness on bad character (the poor lack selfcontrol, discipline, and the will to sacrifice) rather than on social and economic conditions or the ground rules of capitalism. The failure to find, keep, and advance in a job is seen as an individual and moral--not a social--failing. In this view, social welfare programs are not only unnecessary; worse, they give the poor a free pass, encouraging the...