What’s Breaking Democracy?

William H. Janeway in Project Syndicate:

My colleagues Gary Gerstle and Helen Thompson share an academic home at the University of Cambridge, and their new books share a common purpose: how to understand the dysfunctionality that has beset Western democracies. They explore that question in very different but complementary ways, offering deep insights into the disequilibrium dynamics of democratic capitalism. When read together, one sees clearly how the dissolution of Gerstle’s Neoliberal Order has stoked the disorder that Thompson analyzes.

The contrast between the two books owes much to the authors’ backgrounds. Gerstle, a historian of political ideas, ideologies, and cultures, writes from an American perspective. In The Rise and Fall of the Neoliberal Order: America and the World in the Free Market Era, he tracks how initially radical political programs become institutionalized as all-encompassing “orders” when the opposition accepts their terms. Thus, the New Deal Order was established when the Republican Eisenhower administration chose not to try to repeal the Democratic Roosevelt administration’s central institutional reforms.

More here.