14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American neo-Liberalism or European Social Democracy?
The title is a misnomer: it's really about the growing political and ideological divide between the USA and the EU, with a much useful debunking of right wing myths (including Third Way ones). Hutton's central argument is that Europe's post-war 'social democratic' consensus has produced a model of capitalism distinct from that of the US, and that Britain must finally...
Published on 19 Nov 2002
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The 'World' (?) We're In ?
I enjoyed this book - the analysis is interesting and as a counterbalance to US imperealism its arguments are compelling. I thought his observation that UK politicians (all parties) were importing wholesale US policies without any regard to the fact that we are a much smaller and have a much more one nation view of social welfare both interesting and correct. Similarly...
Published on 5 July 2002 by Mr. T. Lewis
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars American neo-Liberalism or European Social Democracy?,
By A Customer
The title is a misnomer: it's really about the growing political and ideological divide between the USA and the EU, with a much useful debunking of right wing myths (including Third Way ones). Hutton's central argument is that Europe's post-war 'social democratic' consensus has produced a model of capitalism distinct from that of the US, and that Britain must finally choose. This is vintage Hutton, combining serious research, theoretically informed argument and an acute journalistic sense of timing and relevance. Worth having on your shelf for the bibliography alone. You may not agree with everything he says, but then that's the whole point!
33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The World We're In,
This review is from: The World We're In (Paperback)
This is an impressive book. Anyone interested in understanding, among other things, how and why the US has come under near complete corporate control during the last thirty years should read Hutton's analysis. It's first rate both in its depth and breath: social, cultural, political, financial and economic. As an American, I am very impressed by how well Hutton understands what's going on here. His view is more lucid - and more clearly and passionately presented - than just about anything I've seen by American writers. And I do hope UK readers will heed his advice to move British politics and culture away from US domination.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An extremely thought-provoking argument,
By A Customer
...What Hutton gives us is an excellent analysis of some of the myths surrounding America's prosperity and some of the equally perverse myths surrounding Europe's alledged inefficiency. He gives the US it's due on a number of counts at several times in the past and the present but articulately argues from a historical point of view why the underlying values of the two continents are so different. It is these underlying values together with pragmatic economic good sense (supported by copious amounts of evidence) that should push Britain to the European side rather than dithering in between the two sides with no real foothold in either but a prononced lean towards the Atlantic.
...I would suggest this book is an antidote to the well travelled but seemingly baseless arguments of the right. You may not agree with him but you should at least listen to the arguments that have rarely been so well articulated.
Finally... it is well accepted that a trade deficit puts your economy in a precarious position. Since Hutton is trying to say that the US is in such a position, it seems a reasonable point to make.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars US or Europe - is that the choice?,
This is a very well written and very well argued book.There are times when I think that the author is naive in his analysis. For example his attack on the US pursuing its own agenda, seems simplistic at times.
I did think he should have looked at the peculiar roots of British Finance (from the days of the Empire)as a cause of the strength of the City, rather than suggest it is to do with the shareholder value craze. He should also recognise that the shareholder value concept helped to explain that mergers did not work - and was the death knell of many conglomerates.
These points though seem petty - the book was an excellent read and it gives those who do not sit at ease with the conservative economic orthodoxy genuine counter arguments. Will Hutton has managed to show how economic institutions and theories effect our everyday life in a very powerful and often damning manner.
His biggest achievement is to put the New labour praise of Thatcherism and 'Flexibilty' in its right place. In this book he is the boy who tells us that the Emperor is wearing no clothes!
Fantastic book and very happy to urge people to read it.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The 'World' (?) We're In ?,
I enjoyed this book - the analysis is interesting and as a counterbalance to US imperealism its arguments are compelling. I thought his observation that UK politicians (all parties) were importing wholesale US policies without any regard to the fact that we are a much smaller and have a much more one nation view of social welfare both interesting and correct. Similarly his argument for the UK's entry into the Euro was interesting.
What the booked lacked though was that Britain's place in the World is more than just a straight choice between Europe and the US. Britain's may be euro eurosceptic not just because of our relative economic values - but also because we view ourselves as a World trading nation. The book gave no analysis of our role in the Commonwealth - do we at the very least have some influence in terms of development of these countries.
At the same time the US analysis seemed one sided - US influence extends through Asia, Central and Latin America etc - again this was not menetioned.
Perhaps a better title for the book is The Trans atlantic divide we are in - not the World we're in.
A thought provoking and interesting read nevertheless.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful and Timely,
Cannot fault Will Hutton for ambition. His analysis is detailed and wide ranging. He cannot just be dismissed as Anti-American as he elucidates many times his admiration for much of US economic and technological achievement.
Clearly, this book will be hated by the right, and anyone in the US or UK who supports the neo-liberal "washington consensus".
His description of the political/economic processes that have driven the washington consensus over the last 30 years is excellent, and much of his material uses US sources.
Hutton does not hide his disdain for neo-liberal economics, or the "chicago school", and he raises questions about the prevailing orthodoxy and ideology of the concensus that drives most international financial institutions. But his personal position is made open and clear, and the purpose of the book is to drive forward debate in europe and particularly the UK. In this the book succeeds.
His contention, backed by prodigious evidence, is that the UK national interest is more aligned with europe than with the US, and future economic and political developments are likely to make it increasingly necessary for the UK to understand that its culture and history is tied to europe, and the "idea of europe".
Hutton's description of the historical and cultural roots of europe's "social contract" is thought provoking, and even historians will find this interesting and informative. He shows how the UK is far closer to this conception politically and culturally than the prevailing consensus now driving political economy in the US.
There is much to think about in this book. It is well worth reading as much for its accessible style as for the importance of its subject matter.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little predictable,
My sympathies tend to lie largely with will Hutton's views and after reading this, you do start to feel more optimistic about the prospects of the european ideals as well as possibly the economic power becoming pre-eminnent over the coming years.
But maybe not. Unfortunately I found that the arguments were seemingly shaped to fit the authors prejudices rather perhaps the other way round. Despite protests, there is certainly an anti american strain running throughout the book and some of the negative references made, seemed a bit gratuous. This for me, undermimed the text
I also felt that examples were slightly thrown at the reader whilst the sharp observations, wit and clear headedness which is well demonstrated by Paul Krugman say, was missing. It felt as if Will was shouting at you.
Overall though, the debate is definately worth absorbing and the author does in patches, argue his case particularly well. Personally, I found the Airbus vs Boeing example evry illuminating
In total the book was perhaps a shade overlong , but on balance, recomended
16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Will Hutton's Capitalism,
Like his The State We're In, this is a book nobody in the political class can ignore and required reading for Blair's buffers and babes. A five-star rating if only for the urgent debate it will ignite and the influence it will rightly have. Hugely informative, convincing in its narratives, powerfully argued, this is an outstanding piece of political writing.
It is an extensively detailed withering indictment of contemporary American capitalism; of a 'hyperpower' in the grip of conservative market ideologues, of precarious economic stability, nationally and personally debt-ridden, racialist, grotesquely unequal, of a democracy corrupt to the eyeballs. It is a celebration of Hutton's conception of a different capitalism - an argument for the political, social and economic rearmament of the European Union, anchored he insists - now only tenuously and held in contempt by its native free-marketeers - on age-long socially contractual and humane values, of which even its supporters are ignorant, and maybe the only bulwark against the menacing dominance of Bush's America. There is something in The World We're In to upset pretty much everybody. But socialists will probably be left in most pain.
Insofar as European capitalism is a more 'libereral' capitalism, needing better telling is how it got that way. In Hutton's story there is too little of the historic class and industrial battles across Europe and too much of post-Enlightenment philosophical history - too little of a liberality forced on capitalism, not least by anti-capitalist socialist movements, sometimes spearheaded, sometimes whipped on, by now despised Marxist revolutionaries, sometimes with self-inflicted failures, but with steady gains often unperceived by the agents themselves. Unremarked is that capitalism - capitalism tout court - would have been, and would be, hell-on-earth without organised labour and trade union movements, their allies and the myriad of radical 'pressure groups' (inaptly called). That's to say, in its unhindered essence capitalism is an unliveable system, Hutton's own book, likewise his pungent journalism, adding to the evidence.
He is apt to ascribe to European capitalism absurdly more of the values of equality and justice (terms anyway with the semantic precision of watery jelly) than are visible in practice, or likely to be if the only Left left turns out to be enfeebled social democracy, chasing the vote of the affluent and thus ever more open to the pressures of the propertied and the market. The idea of a 'just capitalism' is as utopian as the collectivist socialist idea, which capitalists, seemingly together with Will Hutton, are relieved to see the back of, but was nothing like as ridiculous. No more evidence is required than that even in the abstract 'egalitarian' world of John Rawls, much impressing Hutton, capitalist are still profiting, workers still working and the poor, the consequence of the riches of the rich, are always with us. (However no sane egalitarian, contra Hutton, ever demanded the distribution of wealth 'exactly equally' or anything so silly.) Of work in its common drudgery on the shop or office floor, of working people forlornly in the grip of ambitions that even the most 'liberal' capitalism excites but would be its own suicide to satisfy - at the same time plundering the eco-sphere - of people, even whole communities, ever vulnerable to and not infreqently devastated by the market's crises, here the book evinces too little of the known Hutton. Not many will be uplifted, still less find reforming fire in their bellies, told that, rid of the culture of Enron, the promised land is labouring for Hutton-admired Nokia mobiles or Michelin tyres.
Over and over - but not emphatically enough - does he point up the huge extent to which capitalism, significantly in Europe, is now cradled by public authorities and institutions on the one hand, and the public protected from the worst of its venalities and cruelties on the other. This now vast public engagement - this 'public realm' - is in Hutton's view 'analytically distinct' from socialism, which is pronounced dead. It seems not to occur to him that it is more accurately analytically distinct from capitalism and that its steady expansion, notwithstanding the current reaction, promises - certainly rationally entails - a world, one already gorged with mal-distributed wealth, wherein private big capital and its octopus of greedy financial institutions are found not so essential to humanity's salvation after all. What we want capitalism for, what of it exactly which is wanted, are questions not addressed. More pointedly, do its benefits any longer justify the self-perpetuating hierarchies of differential life-chances, even of differentail chances of life and death, which follow from its nature as surely as night follows day?
But Hutton has a pressing task, and one brilliantly undertaken. His priority, rightly, is to help resist a violent turning-back of the clock to a global market regime of untrammelled ruthlessness and even more human disregard. But the cost is that in the end he serves us a thin political gruel, seeming substantial only because the present alternative fare is Newt Gingrichism and the American politico-religious Right. He is militantly and eloquently for a capitalism subordinate to the public goods of liberty, equality and fraternity. A shame he does not similarly dilate on the instruments by which such a contradictory state of affairs might be accomplished. The trouble with Hutton's capitalism is that if these values - together with the many other shackles upon it he rightly demands - are realized not just in the letter but also in fact, he will have brought about its extinction.
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A manifesto for a new Europe,
By A Customer
Will Hutton provides the British left with what has been lacking in the increasingly anti-European mainstream - a principled case for a stronger Europe with Britain as a central part. Hutton sees European social-democracy as the greatest potential balance to the disasterous neo-liberal unilateralism of the modern USA. Not a radical text, but a reasonably argued, moderate, and heartfelt argument for a European, reformist approach to globalisation. Essential reading for the new left.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Intellectual Tour de Force,
By A Customer
With clarity, passion and lucidity, Will Hutton has once again managed to say the unsayable, enlightening his readers on how the world really works. By rejecting the accepted wisdoms and lazy assumptions when the facts don't fit the theories, Hutton sheds light on the seemingly inexplicable contradictions of the modern economy. His alternative explanations and dissenting voice resonate with the verifiable facts and this is the book's strongest attribute. You can feel in your guts that his insights are correct, or at least more correct than the alternative explanations offered by conservative propagandists, lobbyists and apologists.
His analysis offers hope of a political and economic programme for a just social settlement, inclusive of every member of humanity, along with rising prosperity and standards of living. The only question is whether or not policy makers and power brokers can suspend their blinkered beliefs long enough to make the paradigm shift required to see that the current incarnation of capitalism, American-style, might not be producing anything like optimal results. Can we rely on our leaders' abilities to think it through rather than accepting the conventional dogma? In the case of Blair and Bush, I suggest the jury is out. Ignorance is not bliss.
Under Will Hutton's framework, even those companies and institutions dedicated to maximising shareholder value would do more good for their shareholders through a better balance of stakeholder interests and through the hard work of building businesses rather than through financial engineering. It turns out that the nasty, short-termist, self-interested, exclusive, inequitable society created by shareholder value-focused corporations and their supporting political, legal and economic infrastructure, produces LESS NET VALUE to the shareholders they claim to protect.
We can choose to live in a more equittable, more peaceable, more prosperous society, in which opportunity is genuinely available to all. We just have to get over our mistaken beliefs about what creates jobs, profits, growth and prosperity.
The American conservatives got it wrong. We should stop listening to their discredited theories and start matching our ideas about how to create an equitable society of wealth for all to the facts.
Markets do not work perfectly. There is more to creating value than getting everything at the best price. Human capital is just as important as physical capital. Greed is not good. European social democracy actually can work. Private companies cannot, definitionally, preserve the public interest. The public realm and public initiative are not dirty words.
We need a reality-based capitalism. We need the courage to think without the constraints of ten or more years of conservative political and economic doctrine.
Well done, Will.
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The World We're In by Will Hutton (Paperback - 27 Mar 2003)