Published by: W. W. Norton & Company
Release Date: April 10, 2018
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One of our leading social critics recounts managed capitalism’s finest hour, and shows us how we might achieve a just economy once again.
In the past few decades, the wages of most workers have stagnated, even as productivity increased. Social supports have been cut, while corporations have achieved record profits. Downward mobility has produced political backlash.
What is going on? Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? argues that neither trade nor immigration nor technological change is responsible for the harm to workers’ prospects. According to Robert Kuttner, global capitalism is to blame. By limiting workers’ rights, liberating bankers, allowing corporations to evade taxation, and preventing nations from assuring economic security, raw capitalism strikes at the very foundation of a healthy democracy.
The resurgence of predatory capitalism was not inevitable. After the Great Depression, the U.S. government harnessed capitalism to democracy. Under Roosevelt’s New Deal, labor unions were legalized, and capital regulated. Well into the 1950s and ’60s, the Western world combined a thriving economy with a secure and growing middle class.
Beginning in the 1970s, as deregulated capitalism regained the upper hand, elites began to dominate politics once again; policy reversals followed. The inequality and instability that ensued would eventually, in 2016, cause disillusioned voters to support far-right faux populism. Is today’s poisonous alliance of reckless finance and ultranationalism inevitable? Or can we find the political will to make capitalism serve democracy, and not the other way around? Charting a plan for bold action based on political precedent, Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism? is essential reading for anyone eager to reverse the decline of democracy in the West.
“Democracies govern nations, while global capitalism runs the world. Robert Kuttner provides a clear-eyed, intellectually riveting account of how the inevitable tensions between the two have fueled neofascist nationalism here and abroad, and why the response must be a new progressive populism rooted in democracy and social justice. Timely and compelling.”
—Robert B. Reich, chancellor’s professor of public policy, University of California at Berkeley
“Robert Kuttner combines economic acumen, a gift for narrative, and genuine passion in his persuasive new book. In his telling, the issue isn’t whether national economies should be open to foreign trade or finance. It’s whether the rules of the global economy are set up to benefit ordinary citizens or merely economic elites.”
—Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University and coauthor of Winner-Take-All Politics
“Kuttner brilliantly brings together two strands of thought: explaining both the economics and politics of global capitalism and how our society has abandoned core principles of fairness and equality. The rise of inequality helped pave the way for Donald Trump—a figure out of step with basic American values. Kuttner reminds us of the urgency with which we need to get back to a more just society.”
—Joseph E. Stiglitz, Columbia University, winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics and best-selling author of The Price of Inequality
“Standing on the shoulders of Karl Polanyi, Bob Kuttner revives the lost art of political economy in this absorbing and important analysis of wild markets, assaults on labor, and profound changes to institutional rules.”
—Ira Katznelson, Columbia University and author of the Bancroft Prize–winning Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins of Our Time
“Democracy is no longer writing the rules for capitalism; instead it is the other way around. With his deep insight and wide learning, Kuttner is among our best guides for understanding how we reached this point and what’s at stake if we stay on our current path.”
—Heather McGhee, president of Demos
“Conventional wisdom has it that our income disparities and dysfunctional politics are the consequence of inexorable and uncontrollable developments in technology, market competition, and globalization. As Robert Kuttner argues in this superb book, they are instead the result of our own policy choices.”
—Dani Rodrik, Harvard University and author of Straight Talk on Trade and The Globalization Paradox
“Americans still struggling to comprehend the election of President Trump will find American Prospect coeditor Kuttner’s cogent analysis illuminating. ...He builds his case methodically and in a manner accessible to lay readers without a background in economics, looking at how tighter governmental controls impacted powerful financial institutions over the past century.”
—Publishers Weekly (read the full review)
“Democracy and the world’s dominant economic system are at loggerheads. So argues American Prospect co-founder Kuttner in this vigorous critique. ...Capitalism as we know it today is anti-democratic—and not likely to relinquish power without a fight. A useful resource for setting agendas.”
—Kirkus (read the full review)
“Kuttner’s call to recognize and fight this status quo doesn’t come with easy solutions, but it will inspire readers to think deeply about our complex and troubling times.”
—Booklist (read the full review)