Martin Wolf “The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism” Årets viktigaste bok

Martin Wolf has long been one of the wisest voices on global economic issues. He has rarely been called an optimist, yet he has never been as worried as he is today. Liberal democracy is in recession, and authoritarianism is on the rise. The ties that ought to bind open markets to free and fair elections are threatened, even in democracy’s heartlands, the United States and England.

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.

Speakers: Martin Wolf, Diane Coyle and Jesse Norman MP

LSE London School of Economcs Podd Published on: 16 Feb 2023

Will America’s woes bring down democracy and capitalism worldwide?

Martin Wolf issues a pessimistic warning in “The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism” and pins much of the blame on the failures of elites

Among business and financial journalists, there has never been a doubt that Martin Wolf is at the top of our heap. Over a career that now spans 35 years, there is nobody better read, better sourced or more insightful than the longtime economic commentator for the Financial Times. 

Wolf is the first person you turn to during a financial crisis, a thoughtful and generous colleague and the gold standard against which the rest of us are judged.

Oxford trained, Davos polished, a Commander of the British Empire, Wolf is a charter member of a British establishment whose foibles and failures he is quick to chronicle.

Washington Post Review by Steven Pearlstein February 9, 2023

Review: The End of the World as He Knows It

A British pundit’s crystal ball predicts calamity for democratic order, and spies familiar villains.The book’s thesis, and its much-repeated warning, is that the “difficult, but precious, marriage” between liberal democracy and free-market capitalism is heading for divorce—unless we do something to stop it. 

Mr. Wolf believes in democracy, the Enlightenment and the primacy of truth, values that are being betrayed (he tells us) in Western democracies. 

Financial instability, rising inequality and slowing economic growth—especially after the Great Recession of 2008—have led to the rise of illiberal democracy or “demagogic autocracy” (his preferred phrase). 

He notes this phenomenon most clearly in the U.S., where Donald Trump remains “an embodiment of the aspiration for arbitrary power even after his defeat in 2020.”

The descent into political Hades is fueled, in Mr. Wolf’s telling, by widening inequality and the “rise of rentier capitalism.” By rentier he means something more than an American version of “Downton Abbey,” with landlords drinking champagne and raking in oppressive rents, but the image isn’t entirely amiss. He sees the U.S. economy as a place where financiers and moguls and privileged people game the system, collecting fees and exploiting the masses. 

And what if you think that the central threat to democracy comes not from the pluto-populist right but from the institutional left, now in bed with wokeism?

It is this group—not Mr. Trump’s brown shirts in moose hats—that has gained control of the institutions of civil society: education, philanthropy, the legal profession, academia, the regulatory bureaucracy and C-suites (not to mention the FBI, the IRS and the Justice Department). 

Again, Mr. Wolf’s book is not for you, especially in its concluding assertion that “without decent and competent elites,” for whom he is the always-omniscient scribe, “democracy will perish.” 

His credo, in effect, is MEGA: Make Elites Great Again. Try telling that, and selling that, to the deplorables.

Tunku Varadarajan Wall Street Journal 10 February 2023

Mr. Varadarajan, a Journal contributor, is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and at New York University Law School’s Classical Liberal Institute.

Martin Wolf’s new book “The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism”

The Economist 2 February 2023

Democracy Erodes from the Top 

A seeming explosion of support for right-wing populist parties has triggered widespread fears that liberal democracy is facing its worst crisis since the 1930s. 

Democracy Erodes from the Top reveals that the real crisis stems not from an increasingly populist public but from political leaders who exploit or mismanage the chronic vulnerabilities of democracy.

In this provocative book, Larry Bartels dismantles the pervasive myth of a populist wave in contemporary European public opinion.


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