A new book discusses the global shift away from liberal democracy and capitalism and why they should be protected.
If any two words have rung harder in the past year, they would be “sustainability” and “stakeholder capitalism.” The world faces numerous challenges, from climate change to political violence. Every major corporation understands that a certain amount of investment in the state of the world is necessary to protect the future.
With the world descending into disunity, one of Britain’s most prominent economists is stepping out to offer a word of warning about the direction of the world economy.
In his new book The Crisis Of Democratic Capitalism, Financial Times associate editor Martin Wolf speaks to what he calls the reality that “liberal democracy and market capitalism are individually sick, and the balance between them has broken.” The classical liberal world order faces threats from demagogues, populists, and plutocrats, and that direction needs to be changed—focusing on a shared vision of the common good.
As Wolf notes, the world is facing something of a recession for liberal democracy as aggressive critics arise to contest to older world order. With that challenge comes a danger to free markets and modern democracy. He sees defending democratic capitalism as the best system for allowing maximum human flourishing, even in its imperfections.
“Around the world, powerful voices argue that capitalism is better without democracy; others argue that democracy is better without capitalism. This book is a forceful rejoinder to both views. Even as it offers a deep, lucid assessment of why this marriage has grown so strained, it makes clear why a divorce of capitalism from democracy would be a calamity for the world. They need each other even if they find it hard to life together,” says the publisher.
What the Critics Are Saying
A Positive Note: “Martin Wolf is by some distance the most prominent writer on economics in Britain. His columns are read in a reverent hush. The Crisis Of Democratic Capitalism, his new book, has adulatory blurbs on its dust jacket from professors at Harvard, Johns Hopkins, and NYU; from a former chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve; and from a Nobel-laureate economist who likens Mr. Wolf to Plato. So expectations of wisdom will be at a fever pitch,” says The Wall Street Journal.
Notable Negative: “Unfortunately, these satisfying nuggets, along with Wolf’s broader theme, are buried in what turns out to be a sprawling discourse over nearly 400 pages of text on just about anything that might explain how capitalism and democracy ran off the rails. The historical sweep of the narrative, the profusion of data, the insistence on breaking down every question or proposition into numbered points and subpoints—it all gets to be exhausting,” says The Washington Post.
The Crisis Of Democratic Capitalism was released on February 7, 2023, by Penguin Press.