So much to fear, so little time

“It was Keynes, too, who anticipated and helped prepare for the ‘craving for security’ that Europeans would feel after the three decades of war and economic collapse that followed the end of the Gilded Age. Thanks in large measure to the state-provided public services and safety nets incorporated into their postwar systems of governance, the citizens of the advanced countries lost the gnawing sense of insecurity and fear that had dominated and polarized political life from 1914 through the early Fifties and which was largely responsible for the appeal of both fascism and communism in those years.

“But we have good reason to believe that this may be about to change. Fear is reemerging as an active ingredient of political life in Western democracies. Fear of terrorism, of course; but also, and perhaps more insidiously, fear of the uncontrollable speed of change, fear of the loss of employment, fear of losing ground to others in an increasingly unequal distribution of resources, fear of losing control of the circumstances and routines of one’s daily life. And, perhaps above all, fear that it is not just we who can no longer shape our lives but that those in authority have lost control as well, to forces beyond their reach.”
The Wrecking Ball of Innovation, a review of Supercapitalism: The Transformation of Business, Democracy, and Everyday Life, by Robert B. Reich. Review by Tony Judt, NYT Review of Books, December 6, 2007

This isn’t an easy read, but I highly recommend it. Not only are we living in interesting times, we’re living in vicious times, too.

I’ve always liked and respected Robert Reich, but after I read his first post-Clinton book, I could not help but think he was something of a lamb among wolves, or maybe just Border Collies with OCD, in the Clinton administration. This review doesn’t change my opinion.

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