Generation X-ers and Baby Boomers who are old enough to have lived through the Cold War can remember a time when Americans were taught to regard the Russian government as their enemy. But the Soviet Union ended in 1991, and modern-day Russia has a right-wing government under the authoritarian President Vladimir Putin. However, Washington Post writer Catherine Rampell sees some parallels between the Trump-era GOP and the old Soviet Union — and she outlines them in her latest column.
Of all the derangements of contemporary American political culture—and there are many—the gormless liberal pursuit of a shapeless Russia conspiracy has got to be the dumbest. Anyone can see the actual outlines of contacts between the Trump family, business organization and campaign (as if there was any meaningful distinction separating the three): the perennially under-capitalized Trump long ago burned most of his bridges to the major organs of American finance and has, for most of the last couple of decades, depended on foreign cash from people and institutions even less concerned with due diligence than our own Wall Street casinos.
Since his grassroots presidential campaign took the world by storm last year, Sen. Bernie Sanders has been widely credited with bringing socialism back into the mainstream of American politics and introducing an entire generation to left-wing politics. As a major presidential candidate who unabashedly identified as a democratic socialist, Sanders essentially resurrected an idea that has been considered off limits in our political discourse for many decades: that there is an alternative to capitalism and the status quo.
The following is an excerpt from the new book The Tetris Effect by Dan Ackerman (Public Affairs, 2016):
In the late 1970s, scientists first came to a consensus that global warming was likely to result from increasing greenhouse gases released by the burning of fossil fuels. This idea had been around since the turn of the century, but the development of computer models made it possible to make quantitative predictions. Almost immediately, a small group of politically connected and conservative scientists began to question this consensus. As empirical scientific data mounted up, their attacks became more unprincipled. These conservative scientists used data selectively and often misrepresented the conclusions of many studies undertaken by the scientific community.
Novelist Rana Dasgupta recently turned to nonfiction to explore the explosive social and economic changes in Delhi starting in 1991, when India launched a series of transformative economic reforms. In Capital: The Eruption of Delhi, he describes a city where the epic hopes of globalization have dimmed in the face of a sterner, more elitist world. In Part 1 of an interview with the Institute for New Economic Thinking, Dasgupta traces a turbulent time in which traditional ways of life are dissolving as a new class of entrepreneur-warriors are wielding unprecedented power — and changing the global landscape.
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As America struggles with mortal threats to democracy and a deeply unbalanced society, author Harvey Kaye, Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, mines the amazing legacy of Franklin Roosevelt to show the pathway to a more progressive future. In his brand-new book, The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great (Simon & Schuster Hardcover) Kaye offers up rich storytelling and a formidable command of history to remind us that with vision and bold action, we have overcome grave challenges in the past — and there is no reason why we can't do it again. Here's an excerpt of Kaye's must-read book for progressives.
Editor's note: Historian and political economist Gar Alperovitz remembers the McCarthy era of the 1950s, when people thought the dark days would never end. But then came the 60s, which changed many things in a burst of human energy that no one expected. Today a lot us are feeling deep despair. Elections happen, debates drone on, but the most pressing problems of our time go unaddressed. So what do we do? What organizing and system-shaking strategies can really work to transform our future? Alperovitz puts aside the pessimism and talks about possibilites – not with rose-colored glasses, but with a clear-eyed view of the fundamental changes we need and the methods that could work to acheive them. The following is an excerpt from his compelling new book, What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About the Next Revolution. Think of it as a primer in possibility. A breath of fresh thinking from one of our most respected progressive voices.
A man at the center of the creation of globalized capitalism was actually a Soviet spy.
Henry Dexter White played a key role at the Bretton Woods conference, which established the main international financial institutions: the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. But he was in fact a staunch anti-capitalist who spied on the U.S. and fed information to Moscow for years.
The revelations come in a new book titled “The Battle of Bretton Woods,” published by Princeton University and authored by Benn Steil of the Council on Foreign Relations. While White’s spying has long been known, Steil reveals new details in his book.
“Dr. Steil presents evidence that White was also an informant for the Soviet Union, a starry-eyed admirer of what he saw as its remarkable economic success. For years, Dr. Steil says, White provided documents to the Soviets and favored their side in policy debates,” the New York Times’ Fred Andrews notes. “In 1948, White fended off the House Un-American Activities Committee, denying that he was a Communist. A more adverse light was shed on his activities when wartime codes were broken years after his death. Dr. Steil is more convinced of the espionage claims surrounding White than some historians who see his actions as more innocent. There is no sign that his interest in the Soviets affected his work at Bretton Woods.”
But there was nobody who suspected White at the conference. He prepared extremely well and helped ensure that the Bretton Woods conference resulted in a global economic order that was favorable to the United States.
“White made such an impact at Bretton Woods that on January 23, 1946, President Harry Truman nominated White to be the first American executive director of the IMF and he was widely tipped to become the fund's managing director,” the Daily Mail’s James Nye notes. “However, by this time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover had begun to investigate White, and the paranoid law enforcement chief placed him under investigation for two months after colleagues became concerned about his political beliefs.”
White died in 1948.
William Janeway is no ordinary businessman. In his view, waste can be good, efficiency is the enemy of innovation, and government investment builds the platform on which venture capitalists and entrepreneurs can “dance.” A Cambridge-educated economist whose career as a venture capital investor has spanned four decades, Janeway has been called a “theorist-practitioner” by the great Hyman Minsky. As an investor, he built and led the Warburg Pincus Technology Investment team that provided financial backing to some of the companies that sparked the Internet economy.