The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review: Vol. 20 No. 2 (Summer 2018)

A New New Deal

Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?

Robert Kuttner

New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2018.

Reviewed by Bradley Babendir

The Hedgehog Review

The Hedgehog Review: Summer 2018

(Volume 20 | Issue 2)

It’s no spoiler to say that Robert Kuttner’s answer to the title of his book is yes, albeit a yes tempered with realism. As he judges it, the wave of global deregulation that began in the 1970s and accelerated until the crash of 2007–08 was not only catastrophic economic policy but also the first step on the long road toward illiberal leadership in the United States and Europe. Because Kuttner sees globalization primarily as a regulatory regime mostly benefiting financial institutions and big corporations, he thinks it has brought very little in the way of rising wages and improved living standards to most people.

To save democracy, Kuttner insists, the priorities of globalization must be reversed. But doing so will involve tackling institutions directly. As he warns, summoning the political will to make such change possible won’t be easy.

Cofounder and coeditor of The American Prospect and a Brandeis University professor, Kuttner begins his story shortly after World War II, when, in an effort to rebuild the West, the major powers practiced a form of managed capitalism. This facilitated collaboration and investment across borders when necessary, even while allowing each country to maintain its economic sovereignty. Applied alongside high tariffs and tight domestic controls on national currencies that obviated the need for devaluation, public international investment created a winning formula.

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Bradley Babendir writes for The New Republic, The New Inquiry, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others.

Reprinted from The Hedgehog Review 20.2 (Summer 2018). This essay may not be resold, reprinted, or redistributed for compensation of any kind without prior written permission. Please contact The Hedgehog Review for further details.

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