Taming Capitalism

In The Nation, Joseph E. Stiglitz, Thea Lee, Will Hutton, James K. Galbraith, Jeff Faux, Joel Rogers, Marcellus Andrews & Jane D’Arista discuss taming global, unfettered capitalism.

[Joel Rogers] American progressives have lots of ideas on the alternative international rules and institutions in monetary policy, finance, trade, human rights and development needed to make globalization work better for the North and South. What we lack is the power to implement them. Under the “dictatorship of no alternatives” that defines current policy debates, it is important to propose one to the fraying “Washington Consensus” and seek allies, particularly in this NAFTA hemisphere, in its enactment. But we should not wait on international reform to build democratic power in this economy, starting from where we are right now. We should build a high-road–high-wage, low-waste, democratically accountable–economy right here. Doing so will give focus to domestic efforts, connect them practically to international ones and eventually yield the organization, experience and confident social base we want to contribute to global fights. Building the high road here should be at least half of any international strategy.

Of course, some progressives think internationalization already dooms this enterprise–that capital’s mobility will defeat any attempt at increasing democratic control over the economy. But they’re mistaken. Economies don’t just slide around on a frictionless, flat world. They have gravity and traction. The economic importance of place hasn’t been destroyed by internationalization but in many ways has increased. Capital markets are far from perfect, and capital is less mobile than commonly assumed. And some constraints on capital are actually a net gain to it, not a loss.