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Winter 2018 / Volume II, Number 4
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Populism, Immigration, and the Border

The Left Case against Open Borders

Before “Build the wall!” there was “Tear down this wall!” In his famous 1987 speech, Ronald Reagan demanded that the “scar” of the Berlin Wall be removed and insisted that the offending restriction of movement it represented amounted to nothing less than a “question of freedom for all mankind.” He went on to say that those who “refuse to join the community of freedom” would “become obsolete” as a result of the irresistible force of the global market. And so they did. In celebration, Leonard Bernstein directed a performance of “Ode to Joy” and Roger Waters performed “The Wall.” Barriers to labor and capital came down all over the world;…

Containing the Drug Cartels: A Case for the Border Wall

The U.S.-Mexico border is a brutal, two-thousand-mile stretch, forbidding in its arid climate and its varied but austere landscape. It demarcates two disparate economies and ways of life, and it is the site of immense trade and exchange between them. Following Donald Trump’s call for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, intense controversies have flared…

Neoliberalism against the Market

Liberty versus Monopoly

Over the last half-century, business interests and philosophical libertarians have formed a powerful alliance. Business leaders frequently claim to be libertarians and draw on the rhetoric of the free market to criticize government regulation. In turn, libertarians frequently defend businesses against what both groups see as an overbearing regulatory state. The connection is best represented by the Koch brothers, who call themselves libertarians and fund libertarian scholars through their foundation, and at the same time operate one of the largest businesses in the United States. Silicon Valley tech titans also frequently claim to be libertarians, and argue that their internet companies advance liberty by enabling people to communicate freely and form organizations while…

Corporate Power and the Self-Destruction of Neoliberalism

Since the mid-1970s, the majority of economic power in the Western world has fallen into the hands of business and finance. At that time—facing the enormous challenges of oil price explosions, inflation, and unemployment—the governments of most countries virtually surrendered, and left it to global corporations to search for solutions. Margret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and…

The Past and Future of Political Economy

In this remarkable work, Robert Skidelsky—historian, biographer, and tribune of Keynesian ideas in the House of Lords—unites his experience, knowledge, and talents in a sweeping account of money and power. His topic is not money and power…

The Economics—and Politics—of Broadband

Today it is hardly possible to imagine an internet without its biggest players. Google’s market share in search is somewhere between 70 percent and 90 percent (depending on whether services like YouTube and Google Maps are included). Facebook has more than two billion active users. Netflix alone is responsible for more than a third of…

“Getting Away with Murder”: Prescription Drug Coverage in America

Nine days before the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump, Vice President Elect Mike Pence strode to the press conference podium. He reviewed the transition team’s progress in nominating cabinet secretaries, but quickly turned his attention to the “concerted effort . . . to delegitimize this election and to demean our incoming administration.” Although pledging his…

Nationalism and Democracy

The World Nationalism Made

The great and good of the Western world are alarmed. Nationalism, they say—rising from the primeval depths of biological human nature, untouched by the civilizing influences of History whose telos is global democracy—undermines the achievements of enlightened humanity. It poses an inherent threat to just societies—those based on the universal values of freedom, equality, and…

In Defense of the Nation

Observe “the splendors of history,” wrote an anonymous German pamphleteer in 1795, “and you will see that national states have rarely experienced total annihilation, while political bodies composed of several portions of different nations, have suffered endless vicissitudes.” Viewed from Jerusalem, where Yoram Hazony lives…

Fear and the Renunciation of Politics

That fear has become politicized is widely recognized. Commentators and politicians frequently accuse their opponents of practicing “the politics of fear.” Those who use the idiom of the politics of fear, however, assume that the meaning of the term requires no explanation. Yet it is not simply a term of description; it is also used…

Left Populism and the Rediscovery of Agonistic Politics

If there were a tagline for today’s populist moment, it would probably be something like “It’s not the economy, stupid.” Economic factors matter, but they are far from decisive in understanding why populists, especially right-wing populists, have solidified their position as the second largest or even largest parties in many Western democracies. In 2012—in the aftermath of…

Corporate Culture

The Open Office and the Spirit of Capitalism

It would be too much to say that the office is the prime locus of utopian aspirations in American life. But the claim wouldn’t be entirely misleading, either, and it might even shed some light on what the office actually is. From their earliest days as dingy counting houses in Boston and Manhattan, American offices have…

Principles for Dummies

On the first page of his best-selling memoir, Ray Dalio unburdens himself of the opinion that he is “a dumb shit.” Nothing in the ensuing six hundred or so pages convinced me that I should dissent from this verdict. I can say honestly, in keeping with the book’s own serial inducements to “radical transparency,” that my endorsement of Dalio’s conclusion about his own intelligence was arrived at without prejudice…

Online Exclusives

  • 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…

  • Kanye West’s Radical Black Liberation Theology

    Kanye West has always had a streak of what one might call conservatism. He defiantly included “Jesus Walks” on his 2004 debut album, despite repeated urging from record execs to drop it, and predictions that it would never get play. Instead, the single helped make…

  • Hamilton’s Revolutionary Financial System

    At George Washington’s invitation, Hamilton eagerly accepted office as the nation’s first treasury secretary. Though only 34 years old, he had long considered the severe economic and financial problems facing the country…

  • Clean Rooms and Dirtbags

    Conservative Canadian professor Jordan Peterson and socialist Brooklynite podcast Chapo Trap House have a lot in common. They each make around a hundred thousand dollars a month from Patreon donations. They each inspire both adoration and revulsion, while rejecting, in different ways, forms of political…

  • Poland at 100 Years of Independence

    The hundredth anniversary of the reclamation of Polish independence is cause to celebrate. Poles will celebrate. Yet national and international responses will also be colored by the nation’s recent political controversies, and the tensions of international liberalism. I suspect…

  • What V. S. Naipaul Taught Me about Posturing

    Readers rightly praise V. S. Naipaul’s incandescent prose, his narrative power, and his bracing sense of humor. But for me his art also had another value: Naipaul taught me the value of honesty over posturing. We posture when we pretend to have feelings and opinions…

  • The Eclipse of Catholic Fusionism

    The argument that America is at risk of theocratic domination has always been hyperbole—a rallying cry rather than an analysis of our political situation. Even as the nomination of a Supreme Court justice stirs up liberal fantasies of The Handmaid’s Tale, the threat of a…

  • North Korea’s Search for Totality

    In early April, I participated in the Pyongyang Marathon, organized for the birthday of the Great Leader, Kim Il-sung (1912–1994), founder of the Kim dynasty. He is the father of the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il (1941–2011), and the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.…

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