Can Democracy Survive Global Capitalism?
Before and after World War II, a serendipitous confluence of events created a healthy balance between the market and the polity—between the engine of capitalism and the egalitarian ideals of democracy. Under Roosevelt’s New Deal, unions and collective bargaining were legalized. Glass-Steagall reined in speculative finance. At Bretton Woods, a global financial system was devised explicitly to allow nations to manage capitalism. Yet this golden era turned out to be lightning in a bottle. From the 1970s on, a power shift occurred, in which financial regulations were rolled back, taxes were cut, inequality worsened, and disheartened voters turned to far-right, faux populism.
Robert Kuttner lays out the events that led to the postwar miracle, and charts its dissolution all the way to Trump, Brexit, and the tenuous state of the EU. Is today’s poisonous alliance of reckless finance and ultra-nationalism inevitable? Or can democracy find a way to survive?
Robert Kuttner is the cofounder and coeditor of The American Prospect magazine and is a former columnist for Businessweek, the Washington Post, and The Boston Globe. Kuttner was educated at Oberlin College (A.B), The London School of Economics, the University of California at Berkeley (M.A), and holds an honorary doctorate from Swarthmore College. He holds the Ida and Meyer Kirstein Chair at Brandeis University and lives in Boston.
During the Civil War, the Confederate dollar was created to buy and sell in the wake of the Union blocking trade from Europe to the South. The fluctuation of this currency’s value shows insight into the war’s progression that still affects the United States’ culture. In 1944, the Athenæum acquired 1,530 Confederate imprints. You can look at this collection online, or you can schedule an appointment to view the collection in the Vershbow Special Collections Reading Room.
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