By Colin Crouch
Capitalism is the only complex system known to us that can provide an efficient and innovative economy, but the financial crisis has brought out the pernicious side of capitalism and shown that it remains dependent on the state to rescue it from its own deficiencies. Can capitalism be reshaped so that it is fit for society, or must we acquiesce to the neoliberal view that society will be at its best when markets are given free rein in all areas of life?
The aim of Making Capitalism Fit for Society is to show that the acceptance of capitalism and the market does not require us to accept the full neoliberal agenda of unrestrained markets, insecurity in our working lives, and neglect of the environment and of public services. In particular, it should not mean supporting the growing dominance of public life by corporate wealth. The world’s most successful mature economies are those that fully embrace both the discipline of the market and the need for protection against its negative outcomes. Indeed, a continuing, unresolved clash between these two forces is itself a major source of vitality and innovation for economy and society. But maintenance of that tension depends on the enduring strength of trade unions and other critical groups in civil society - a strength that is threatened by neoliberalism’s increasingly intolerant onward march.
Outlining the principles for a renewed and more assertive social democracy, Making Capitalism Fit for Society is a timely and important book that shows that real possibilities exist to create a better world than that which is being offered by the wealthy elites who dominate our public and private lives.
Regina Kreide on Academia.edu wrote:
"Colin Crouch seeks to set out an assertive rather than a defensive version of social democracy. He offers a powerful critique of neoliberalism and in particular of the way in which growing inequality is not only morally questionable but also threatens the smooth functioning of the economy. [...] He accepts that ‘the social democratic vision requires some major adjustments if it is to assert its claim to be the alternative’ to neo-liberalism. His analysis is informed by a crucial distinction between three types of neoliberalism. The first of these is the pure type in which a strong state has a limited role in guaranteeing the operation of markets. Another version is neoliberalism as it exists ‘which refers to the amalgam of corporate lobbying of governments and the deployment of corporate and other private wealth in politics’. The version that is most relevant to Crouch’s argument is those who ‘while accepting the value and priority of markets in the economy, are aware of their limitations and deficiencies.’ [...] Crouch sets out a ‘feasible prospectus’ which involves re-examining the role of the Anglo-American shareholding firm and regulating and offsetting the effects of markets, although rather puzzlingly he sees the regulatory state as a neoliberal construct. The prospectus is sensible but not especially novel. Crouch has, nevertheless, offered another powerful contribution to the debate about the choices that we face."
"Colin Crouch has written a treaty for our times. Whereas his other books, for example, Postdemocracy and The Strange Non-Death of Neoliberalism mainly offer a critique of democracy repressed and how neo-liberal ideology has combined with the power of large corporations and the mass media, the Making Capitalism Fit for Society book offers powerful real policy measures to create a better world than that which is offered by the global powerful and wealthy élites that dominate our public and private lives. [...] It is written from a certain political perspective - a determined social democratic point of view. And, of course, one immediately asks oneself what this means today. Crouch argues for a more assertive social democracy, in contrast to the prevalent defensive version of social democracy. Colin Crouch does not want to address just the social democratic parties in Europe, but sees social democracy more as a network, a Left movement, an idea [...] The book is full of empirical material through which Crouch wants to ground his idea of a 'welfare state of social investments' [...] in the bedrock of an all too resistant reality. [...] But if Crouch really wants to go beyond neo-liberalism, I think it make sense to distinguish between market and capitalism. One can (and should) defend a market model without embracing capitalism. [...] So, I think, either Crouch would need to [...] better what the advantages of a capitalist system are, or, maybe he should give up flirting with neoliberalism and argue in favour of non-capitalist market systems."
About Colin Crouch
According to Wikipedia "Colin Crouch, Fellow of the British Academy (born 1944), is an English sociologist and political scientist. He coined the post-democracy concept in 2000 in his book Coping with Post-Democracy. Colin Crouch is currently Emeritus Professor at the University of Warwick and an External Scientific Member of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies."
Table of Contents of Making Capitalism Fit for Society
- From a Defensive to an Assertive Social Democracy
- We Are All (Partly) Neoliberals Now
- Marketization and Market Inadequacies
- Capitalism and the Welfare State
- The Welfare State of Assertive Social Democracy
- Confronting Threats and Enemies
- Social Democracy as the Highest Form of Liberalism
- What About the Party?
- A Feasible Prospectus?