Radical Markets: Uprooting Capitalism and Democracy for a Just Society
Eric A. Posner and E. Glen Weyl
Princeton University Press, 2018
xii + 337 pages
Radical Markets has at least one virtue. The book contains many unusual proposals, and I propose to concentrate on one of the strangest of these. Eric Posner, a legal scholar, and Glen Weyl, a principal researcher at Microsoft, call for speculative boldness, and they have given us that; but sound argument is another matter.
The authors agree with prevailing leftist dogma on one matter, but differ with it on another. They accept the conventional wisdom that inequality in the world economy is extreme. “Together, the trends of rising inequality and stagnating growth mean that typical citizens in wealthy countries are no longer living much better than their parents did. … These trends pose the same problem for the neoliberal economic consensus that stagflation posed for the Keynesian consensus before it. We were promised economic dynamism in exchange for inequality. We got the inequality, but dynamism is actually declining.”
Posner and Weyl do not discuss skeptics about the rise of inequality, such as Thomas Sowell and the authors of Anti-Piketty. Let us leave that point, vital as it is, to one side. They also fail to address this question: why is inequality bad? Like almost all egalitarians, they just assume that it is and proceed from there. Though they continually call for fresh thinking, they never question this prevailing shibboleth of our age.
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They differ with the left, though, in their view of markets. For Posner and Weyl, the market deserves praise: “Our…