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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.1 After a century of study, there is a general consensus that the freedom of political participation creates an…

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Houellebecq’s Unfinished Critique of Liberal Modernity

For a brief moment, just before the end of Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel Sérotonine, a ray of hope seems to galvanize its protagonist. For a short while he seems to recover his lust for life. Having languished for years without a sense of purpose…

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Trade, Antitrust, and Restoring Domestic Competition

Will more restrictive trade policies harm the U.S. economy by shielding domestic businesses against competition? That’s what standard economic theory holds, insisting that pressure from foreign rivals is needed for U.S.-based businesses to continue to in­novate, to create the highest quality goods, and to sell them for the lowest possible prices. Although this theory has…

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National Developmentalism: From Forgotten Tradition to New Consensus

In response to the rise of “populism,” members of the Washington establishment have adopted a reassuring way to frame the ques­tion of America’s proper relationship to the world. As they see it, Americans are divided into two camps—open or closed, globalist or nationalist, interventionist or protectionist. In this framing, the closed, nationalist, and protectionist camp…

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Financing Advanced Manufacturing: Why VCs Aren’t the Answer

In 2013, a group of MIT researchers published a study examining the business trajectory of 150 start-up firms that grew out of technology developed at the university. These were production-related “hardware” firms that actually manufactured things. The firms were able to attract early stage venture capital (VC) funding. They were also able to find the…

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Automation Anxiety in an Age of Stagnation

A cursory glance at Google Trends reveals that interest in robot­ics and automation was far less intense throughout the last decade than interest in proposed solutions to the problems that these tech­nologies are supposedly creating, especially universal basic in­come (UBI). Automation—the process of applying technology and organ­ization to do more with less, with robotics being…

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