Robert Kuttner is a Cofounder and Coeditor of The American Prospect and a Professor at Brandeis’s Heller School. His latest book is The Stakes: 2020 and the Survival of American Democracy. (September 2020)
Capitalism, Alone: The Future of the System That Rules the World
by Branko Milanovic
For enthusiasts of capitalism, democracy and the market are said to be handmaidens. Both depend on the rule of law. Both express aspects of liberty, prizing opportunity and mobility. During the era of classical liberalism, which began in the late eighteenth century, free commerce and political freedom advanced in tandem.
by Patrick J. Deneen, with a foreword by James Davison Hunter and John M. Owen IV
As if to mock the triumphalism of 1989, liberal democracy has faltered with stunning abruptness. Even the most robust democracies are suffering from dysfunction and defection. The election of Trump in the US, the Brexit quagmire in the UK, and the diminished support for mainstream parties across Europe all reflect …
Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World
by Adam Tooze
The historian G.M. Trevelyan said that the democratic revolutions of 1848, all of which were quickly crushed, represented “a turning point at which modern history failed to turn.” The same can be said of the financial collapse of 2008. The crash demonstrated the emptiness of the claim that markets could regulate themselves. It should have led to the disgrace of neoliberalism—the belief that unregulated markets produce and distribute goods and services more efficiently than regulated ones. Instead, the old order reasserted itself, and with calamitous consequences. Gross economic imbalances of power and wealth persisted. We are still experiencing the reverberations.
What a splendid era this was going to be, with one remaining superpower spreading capitalism and liberal democracy around the world. Instead, democracy and capitalism seem increasingly incompatible. Global capitalism has escaped the bounds of the postwar mixed economy that had reconciled dynamism with security through the regulation of finance, the empowerment of labor, a welfare state, and elements of public ownership. Wealth has crowded out citizenship, producing greater concentration of both income and influence, as well as loss of faith in democracy. The result is an economy of extreme inequality and instability, organized less for the many than for the few.
The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad For So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It
by David Weil
Private Equity at Work: When Wall Street Manages Main Street
by Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt
In mid-May, The New York Times reported on appalling labor conditions in the construction of NYU’s new satellite campus in Abu Dhabi. NYU said it had a commitment from both the government of Abu Dhabi and the contractor, the BK Gulf corporation, that workers would be treated decently. But the …
In 22 percent of America’s homes with mortgages, the debt exceeds the value of the house. Young adults begin economic life saddled with student debt that recently reached a trillion dollars, limiting their purchasing power. Middle-class families use debt as a substitute for wages and salaries that have lagged behind the cost of living. This private debt overhang, far more than the obsessively debated question of public debt, retards the recovery.