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Fall 2019 / Volume III, Number 3
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Prospects and Challenges for Economic Reform

New Gilded Age or Old Normal?

Since the mid-1970s, inequality has increased under Democratic as well as Republican administrations and Congresses. In retrospect, the four and a half decades from 1933 to 1978 were a historical aberration. The longer-term trend toward more inequality in capitalist economies, which prevailed before this period, has re­sumed after it. That leads us to conclude that there may well be no technocratic or tax policy fix for capitalism’s tendency to generate ever more inequality…

Corporate Power Beyond Lobbying

The biases that private interests can introduce into politics have always been a key concern for democratic theory. Lobbying in particular has come into the focus of social science research since the beginning of the twentieth century. After a century of study, there is a general consensus that the freedom of political participation creates an…

Squaring the Circular Economy

Phillips and Rozworski are at their best in analyzing the scale and scope of central planning in economies dominated by large corporations. In doing so, they demonstrate the inadequacy of ideological debates premised on the opposition between “free markets” and a “command economy.” People’s Republic of Walmart also scores points against the dwindling band…

Human Capital

Affirming the American Family

Family policy brings into focus the importance of direct, govern­ment-driven measures ordered to achieve outcomes in accordance with the common good. For too many years in the United States, however, family policy has, in effect, been caught in the middle between Republican Party libertarianism and Democratic Party welfarism—both out of step with the broad wishes…

Rotten STEM: How Technology Corrupts Education

The U.S. education system spent more than $26 billion on tech­nology in 2018. That’s larger than the entire Israeli military budget. By one estimate, annual global spending on technology in schools will soon total $252 billion. But the technology pushed into schools today is a threat to child development and an unredeemable waste…

The Politics of Sebastianismo

The New Brazilian Right

Ten years ago, Brazil was a left-wing success story. The Workers’ Party’s generous cash-transfer programs for poor families, bank­rolled by buoyant commodity prices and constructed on a preexisting foundation of fiscal discipline, helped to lift millions out of pov­erty. Constitutional order was maintained. The economy grew, and arrangements were reached between the reigning patronage party…

Indispensable Nation Nostalgia

What might be called “Indispensable Nation Nostalgia” represents a misty remembrance of things past by a certain stratum of elite Americans. These pangs tend to afflict a fairly narrow group of people who run, or used to run, foreign pol­icy, along with the coterie of folks that think and write about foreign policy at think tanks and ideas-oriented publications…

The Liberal Order: Views from China

China and the Rule of Law

If any political concept could be said to have universal appeal, it would have to be the rule of law. Virtually no government rejects the idea of the rule of law. On the contrary, most, if not all, governments claim to seek its realization. In 1992, the World Bank official­ly deemed the rule of law…

New China and the End of American “International Law”

The question plaguing contemporary analysis of China is what its emergence, or reemergence, as a great power means. To answer this question, we must confront the fact that we have turned, even in China, away from the concept of “great powers”—or even states—in writing the history of modern politics and international relations. Over the past…

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie

The Financialization of the American Elite

On October 1, 2018, the newly christened Klarman Hall opened to much acclaim on the campus of Harvard Business School. The stunning $120 million building houses a conference center as well as a gleaming auditorium built around a 32-million-pixel, 1,250-square-foot video wall and a state-of-the-art, modular design that seats up to a thousand attendees. To mark the opening, the school held a daylong series of speeches and lectures, headlined by the building’s namesake and one of the school’s wealthiest living gradu­ates, billion­aire investor Seth Klarman…

Trivial Pursuit

It would not be possible in the space of even a lengthy review to do justice to either the scope or the style of Brooks and Papo­la’s cine­matic achievement. I can only share some of what I saw. After a brief credit sequence we meet “Arthur,” which is what I will call the Brooks-esque character in the film. (I am going to assume we are not quite meant to identify him with the real-life Brooks, who cannot possibly be as stupid and sinister by turns as this guy…

Online Exclusives

  • Subscription Capitalism: The Story of a Power Shift

    The emergence of the internet changed the business landscape in fundamental ways. Computer-based services could be offered to anyone irrespective of geographic restrictions. This meant that internet companies could become globally significant with relatively little initial investment, as demonstrated by Facebook, Google, and several others.…

  • Marvel’s War on Terror

    When the Norse god Loki threatens earth in the 2012 film The Avengers, the “playboy billionaire genius” Tony Stark confronts him in a Manhattan penthouse. Overlooking the cityscape, Stark warns Loki that if earth’s most powerful superheroes “can’t protect the earth, you can be damned…

  • The Liberal International Disorder

    Foreign policy as practiced by the United States, especially in recent decades, enjoys a special distinction. The chaos engendered by its voluntarist will to power is painfully obvious…

  • The Illiberal Arts

    For thousands of years, the liberal arts were not liberal, and that is why they are increasingly unwelcome in our time. An honest study of the past is unsettling in a liberal age, because a person who learns to venerate earlier cultural traditions, from Homer…

  • Right-Wing Marxists and Left-Wing Nationalists

    On the shelf of academics’ memoir-manifestos, there will never be more than one Allan Bloom. Someone forgot to tell F. H. Buckley. Which is a shame because Buckley (unrelated to that Buckley) can be interesting. But the contours of his navel are not. The Republican…

  • What Another Irish Housing Bubble Says about the EU Technocracy

    On January 20, the Financial Times reported that the European Central Bank (ECB) would start the process of hiring its new chief economist. At the top of the list, the article said, was Irish central bank governor Philip Lane. The article noted that Lane is…

  • Peter Thiel, Rachel Carson, and Regulatory Double Standards

    Buried in the middle of a two-hour debate in 2014 on religion and modernity is a thought-provoking observation by Peter Thiel regarding technology and the modern economy. Instead of praising Silicon Valley for its tremendous digital inventiveness, Thiel criticized the technological advances of the last…

  • Share Buybacks and the Contradictions of “Shareholder Capitalism”

    In the jargon of finance, America is suffering from a capital allocation problem. The country seems incapable of making the necessary investments to fuel future productivity and growth, or to ensure widespread prosperity. At the government level, public spending on basic research and development as…

  • Utopia’s Borders

    The political future of the European bloc looks distressingly rough. Already in a December 2016 essay published in the Financial Times, Wolfgang Münchau warned that the “liberal capitalist order” was in peril of capsizing under what he called “uncontrolled flows of people and capital.” The…

  • Sweden’s Ambivalence on Immigration

    In 2015, immigration to Sweden reached an all-time high. At its peak, more than 10,000 people arrived in a single week. The total for the entire year was 162,877 people—1.6 percent of the Swedish population. In September, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven welcomed the immigrants, saying…

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