Emma Rothschild is Director of the Joint Centre for History and Economics at King’s College, Cambridge and Harvard, and Professor of History at Harvard. She is the author of Economic Sentiments: Adam Smith, Condorcet and the Enlightenment.

IN THE REVIEW

Can We Transform the Auto-Industrial Society?

William Eggleston: Karco, 1983–1986; from ‘William Eggleston: Democratic Camera: Photographs and Video, 1961–2008,’ a recent exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The catalog of the exhibition is published by the Whitney Museum and Haus der Kunst, Munich, in conjunction with Yale University Press.
The cataclysm of the American automobile industry has been an odd combination, so far, of immediate and historical anxieties. The government loan of $13.4 billion to General Motors and Chrysler in December 2008 was presented by the outgoing administration as an unsolicited gift, lest a “disorderly liquidation of American auto …

Real, Pretended or Imaginary Dangers

The American republic was founded amid the misfortunes of two European empires. The failure of the British in the American war of independence demonstrated the limits of military power in an extended and discontented empire. The failures of the French empire demonstrated a more insidious condition, the political costs of …

The Reagan Economic Legacy

Budget of the United States Government: Fiscal Year 1989

Economic Report of the President, Transmitted to the Congress, February 1988, Together with The Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers

The twelve million new jobs that were created during the Reagan years fall into four main categories. The first group consists of services to wealth, or to the rich. Two million new jobs between 1981 and 1987 were created in finance, insurance, real estate, and legal services. “Sales representatives, …

The Real Reagan Economy

Budget of the United States Government: Fiscal Year 1989

Economic Report of the President, Transmitted to the Congress, February 1988, Together with The Annual Report of the Council of Economic Advisers

Mr. Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers asserts that the administration’s economic program “has become a blueprint” for worldwide growth. Recent US economic growth, they write in their 1988 Annual Report, “was shaped by government policies explicitly directed toward fostering the inherent dynamism of the private sector.” “Our proven market-oriented policies”—the …

The Costs of Reaganism

Economic Report of the President

transmitted to the Congress February 1984

Department of Defense Annual Report to the Congress, Fiscal Year 1985

by Caspar W. Weinberger
In their elated, vainglorious 1984 reports, Reagan’s advisers suggest that their economic and military policies constitute a single “spirit.” I think they are right. It is a spirit that dishonors—and may destroy—the world that Mr. Reagan proposes to lead. “America’s new strength, confidence, and purpose,” Mr. Reagan said in his …

The Delusions of Deterrence

Department of Defense Annual Report to the Congress, Fiscal Year 1984

by Caspar W. Weinberger
For 1984, the Department of Defense’s project is the moral regeneration of nuclear weapons. Secretary Caspar Weinberger’s annual report for the 1984 fiscal year is said to have been “painstakingly composed” at the Defense Department and “reviewed” by President Reagan. Its purpose, apparently, is to “combat the impression in some …

The Philosophy of Reaganism

Economic Report of the President

transmitted to the Congress, February 1982
It is a relief to have at last an extensive official statement of the “philosophical beliefs and economic judgments” of the Reagan administration; one that sets out to “help both the public and our fellow economists to understand the basis, the importance, and the effects” of present economic policies. The …

Reagan and the Real America

Mr. Reagan has an imposing vision of the country that he is to lead. He sees an inherent America—an America which is white, and male, and industrial—and a project, of economic growth, by which this reality can be born again. He sees a “spirit” which is “still there, ready to …