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Summer 2021 / Volume V, Number 2
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New Policy Models

China’s Attempt to Avoid the American Tech Monopoly Trap

One of the great paradoxes of recent economic history is how little the information technology sector has contributed to overall productivity. Economist Raicho Bojilov examined total factor productivity across the major industrial economies from the 1970s to the present and observed: Somewhat surprisingly, we do not witness, even with a lag, a major pickup in the productivity growth in other industries that are directly and indirectly connected to the IT industry. One would expect that if the IT industry were the engine of the US economy that generates the products, technologies, and techniques of the future, then the other industries would even­tually experience a jump in productivity rates to levels…

The Rise of Carry and Macroeconomic Risk

For most of the twentieth century, the neoclassical synthesis in economics was generally believed to provide a solid basis for public policy. There were, nonetheless, significant dissenters. Hyman Minsky, for instance, wrote that “modern orthodox economics is not and cannot be a basis for a serious approach to economic policy…

Immigration and Citizenship: The Canadian Model and the American Dream

Like the Trump administration before it, the Biden administration entered office with big plans for immigration reform. As of this writing, the proposed U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 sits in the House Judiciary Committee. It is too early to tell what will ultimately become of this attempt to resolve one of the most controversial issues…

The End of the End of History

The Brazilianization of the World

The West’s involution finds its mirror image in the original coun­try of the future, the nation doomed forever to remain the country of the future, the one that never reaches its destination: Brazil. The Brazilianization of the world is our encounter with a future denied, and in which this frustration has become constitutive of our social reality. While the closing of historical horizons has often been a leftist, indeed Marxist, concern, the sense that things don’t work as they should is now widely shared across the political spectrum. Welcome to Brazil. Here the only people satisfied with their situation are financial elites and venal politicians. Everyone complains, but everyone shrugs their shoulders. This slow degradation of society is not so much a runaway train, but more of a jittery rollercoaster, occasionally holding out promise of ascent, yet never break­ing free from the tracks. We always come back to where we started, shaken and disoriented, haunted by what might have been…

The Eternal Return of “Technical Government” in Italy

Several commentators have taken Trump’s departure from office to mean that the so-called populist tide is ebbing and that we are witnessing the return to a pre-2016 “old normal.” In fact, Joe Biden’s cam­paign implicitly—and sometimes explicitly—promised the resto­ration of Obama-era technocracy, returning the reins of power to the “experts,” as seen in his choice…

Understanding Authoritarianism

Authoritarianism has long been viewed as undesirable in the Western world because it represents the “wrong” values and is a political system completely incompatible with Western liberal demo­cracy. For several decades, it was assumed that authoritarian systems would eventually collapse. This liberal democratic, media-driven view of authoritarianism, however, does little to help us understand how authoritarian governments function and why they persist…

The Montesquieu of Montreal and the Decline of the American Empire

Back in the mid-2000s, right around the time of America’s second conflict with Saddam Hussein, the idea of the decline of America (or of the West) began to resurface in political discourse. While most commentators still spoke of America as an “indispensable nation” in the midst of a “unipolar moment,” keen observers suspected that the…

Presidential Apprentice: Reality TV and Performance Legitimacy

Some, perhaps Donald Trump himself, saw the Trump campaign as an infotainment experiment from the beginning. Others, especially his most passionate critics and fans, still resist this conclusion. Re­gardless, there is an analytical utility to viewing the Trump presidency as a multi-season television series called Presidential Apprentice, an extension…

Shaping the Information Environment

The Myth of Internet Exceptionalism: Bringing Section 230 into the Real World

As it turns out, the internet is not that exceptional after all. It may be one of the greatest inventions since the printing press, as the cliché goes, and it has unquestionably revolutionized communication and commerce. But as David Pierce observed in Protocol shortly after the January 6 Capitol riot, “Everything is IRL” now. “[T]he…

The Terrain of Discourse

It says something about Donald Trump’s presidency that it is difficult to distinguish his final days in office from his final days on social media. He was the tweeting president, the man of all-caps missives who battled mainstream media and communicated directly, often wildly, to the public through social media. Whatever one thinks of Trump…

Bipartisan Blind Spots

Does Populism Matter?

The surprising success of the Trump 2020 campaign in the face of unprecedented circumstances poses some thorny questions: Did any of his “populist” promises in 2016 actually matter? Where was the discussion of mass immigration, his trade war with China, declaring peace with the social welfare state, and using the pandemic economic response…

Planet of the Grifters

The word “grifter” seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue today. On the left, grifters are identified and called out with ever-increasing paranoia. On the right, the term is thrown around with almost equal ease, and often with good cause. The grifter is a threat to every movement; he lurks in every shadow.…

How We Forgot Foucault

Late last year, British trade minister Liz Truss caused a stir with a speech that pinned the failures of the British education system on “postmodernist philosophy,” which, she said, “puts societal power structures and labels ahead of individuals and their endeavours.” Due to the influence of such views, she went on, students learn about racism…

Online Exclusives

  • Who’s Minding the App Store?

    A conversation on internet platform policy and economics hosted by American Affairs and American Greatness, featuring panelists Mark W. Koran, Minnesota State Senate (R-32); Blake Masters, Thiel Capital; Fiona McFarland, Florida House of Representatives (R-72); and J. D. Vance, Narya Capital…

  • The Left’s Culture War Rebranding

    Technically, you could call it a victory. But what was expected to be a historic blue wave in 2020 turned out to be barely a ripple. Despite many polls predicting a blowout, Democrats only narrowly defeated a president widely believed to have mismanaged a pandemic…

  • New Fault Lines in a Post-Globalized World

    The economic damage of the coronavirus pandemic has upended the global economic system and, just as importantly, cast out the neoliberal orthodoxy that dominated the industrialized world for the past forty years. But Covid-19 has only accelerated a process that was already well underway, impacting trade…

  • How Late Liberalism Undermines Itself

    Just as surely as the French Revolution devoured its children, modern-day liberalism is eating itself, and destroying with it all the norms and institutions that help complex societies to mediate differences. As liberalism grows illiberal, as it turns its back on pluralism, its universalism gives…

  • United We Stand

    Amid the stresses and strains of today’s America, with our national political fabric seemingly at the tearing point, the notion of disunion as our defining idea might seem ripe for embrace. But is this, really, our national experience? The answer matters…

  • Individual and National Freedom: Toward a New Conservative Fusion

    The 2011 hit series The Newsroom begins with a memorable scene. A panel of pundits is asked by a sorority girl to say “in one sentence or less, why America is the greatest country on earth.” The liberal smugly answers, “Diversity and opportunity.” The conservative,…

  • America’s Unhealthy Gerontocracy

    America in its present state of decline increasingly resembles the late Soviet Union, but one of the most unsettling parallels is its unmistakable slide into gerontocracy. From Trump to Biden to Sanders to Pelosi to most of the Senate, one might think that the biblical…

  • Lenin versus the God-Builders

    James D. White’s Red Hamlet: The Life and Ideas of Alexander Bogdanov is the first comprehensive English-language biography of Bogdanov. In it, White alternates chapters of straight biography with dense chapters that rehash Bogdanov’s philosophy and the debates surrounding it. The volume meticulously provides an…

  • After AIPAC

    Bernie Sanders’s announcement that he would not attend this year’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee (aipac) conference in Washington set off the usual round of recriminations, but it should not have come as a surprise. On his Twitter feed, Sanders described the annual pro-Israel gathering—typically…

  • A Public Baseline: The Australian Health Care Model

    Health care in the United States is riddled with contradictions. The country spends $3.5 trillion a year on health care—more than $10,700 per person and 17.9 percent of GDP—yet 28.5 million Americans are uninsured—nearly 9 percent of the population. America is the richest nation on…

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