21st century capitalism – discontents but no defenders

Thomas Piketty’s 

is all over the blogs and magazines in the US but Amazon UK is tantalising me by sending successive emails saying the shipping date over here has been delayed. It now won’t reach Enlightenment Towers until mid-April.

[amazon_image id=”067443000X” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Capital in the Twenty-First Century[/amazon_image]

Meanwhile, there are other serious attacks on 21st century capitalism to divert the reader so inclined. I see that David Harvey’s 

is available now. I just read George Packer’s
, an epic account of the devastation of the American working class. And I’ve started Greg Clark’s
, whose introduction got the hairs on the back of my neck to rise because of its radical implications for how we think about social mobility – we’ll see if the rest of the book delivers on that promise.

[amazon_image id=”B00IOLFGBK” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Seventeen Contradictions and the End of Capitalism[/amazon_image]   [amazon_image id=”0571251293″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Unwinding: Thirty Years of American Decline[/amazon_image]   [amazon_image id=”0691162549″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Son Also Rises: Surnames and the History of Social Mobility (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World)[/amazon_image]

All of which raises the question – who, if anybody, is writing convincingly and interestingly in defence of 21st century capitalism? At the moment I can’t bring any books that would serve this purpose to mind, even in the technology literature where you’d most expect to find them. There are of course some optimists, like Charles Kenny in

, but that’s not quite the same thing as a rousing defence of the system. Any nominations?


3 thoughts on “21st century capitalism – discontents but no defenders

  1. How about Jagdish Bhagwati? Or from a less explicit standpoint, Bjorn Lomborg? In the sense that we can assume things will be much better in the future than some fear – because of the benefits that growth will have delivered by the time the worst effects of climate change are felt (his argument, not mine). On the tech front – Ray Kurzweil? Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler would also seem to fit. I don’t think any of these are necessarily saying that capitalism couldn’t be better – but the thread seems to be (which I think chimes with recent arguments by Charles Kenny, Angus Deaton and Bill Easterly) that a great deal of the spectacular progress we’ve made to date has been thanks to capitalism, and we can expect it to deliver more, even in the face of many acknowledged challenges.

    • I agree there are some defenders of progress especially via innovation, but I had in mind something more explicitly in defence of free-market or ‘actually existing’ capitalism.

      • Maybe just Bhagwati, then, of those. Edmund Phelps, maybe? Surely there must be more…?

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