Sunday, July 6, 2014

Mulgan, the Locust and the Bee (political economy)

Mulgan’s credibility (for me) comes from being Tony Blair’s director of policy.  He is clearly a perceptive and talented intellectual with a pragmatic policy streak - rare in politics. In this, Blair was taking a leaf from Clinton's book - hiring intellectuals like Bobbitt, Reich, and Rothkopf.  This book is packed with ideas. Capitalism has two faces: creative and predatory. So do crises: barren and pregnant. The essence of capitalism, for Mulgan, is not ownership of capital (Marx) or production for profit (Wallerstein), but the levels of abstraction surrounding production: financial services, insurance, derivatives, etc - a thoughtful and historically reasoned redefinition (Ch 3). The creation-predation distinction (Ch 4) is drawn to include financial services that can be helpful or harmful. Other chapters address utopias, systemic change, the rise of economies based on maintenance rather than growth, the concept of time rather than currency as having fundamental value...It is in the end a hopeful book, concluding with the potential for capitalism to evolve into something that is more creative and sustainable than predatory and consumptive. (also posted on Amazon) David Last, 20 August 2013

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