There is perhaps no surer sign of the decay of an old orthodoxy, in this case, Neo-Liberalism than the emergence of a series of new publications exposing its theoretical shortcomings, Not only has the Neo-Liberal creed of Hayek and Friedman and their loyal footsoldiers Ronald Reagan, Marget Thatcher and Canada's very own now lost and not much lamented Stephen Harper been politically rejected, but reputable economic thinkers like Ha-Joon Chang are now exposing its frankly pretty tenuous theoretical bases.To put this in simple terms it is hardly surprising if politicians find it hard to balance their nations' books when they continue to spend at previous levels, albeit often on armaments rather than social programmes, while relentlessly cutting taxes, especially for the wealthy. Hence the failure of Neo-liberalism to achieve the economic order it promoted itself as representing was all too predictable - faint, if satisfyingly vindictive, comfort for the many in Greece, Spain and around the world who serve as unemployed canaries in the Neo-Liberal coal mine.
But if Neo-Liberalism does not work, then what will? Which brings us to Margaret Thatcher's much quoted quip about capitalism in general - TINA ["There Is No Alternative"]. As a proponent of social economics, a creed at least as time-honoured as the classical and neo-liberal brands, TorontotheBetter has long responded to TINA with TIAA [There Is An Alternative]. The hundreds of variously social enterprises in our Torontothe\Better directory are a concrete testament to the practical rejection of profit at any cost capitalism by many entrepreneurs in Toronto. But now we are favoured by a historical and scholarly study of the many alternatives to mainstream capitalism of the type honoured by the so-called "Chicago Boys". Capitalism and Its Alternatives by Chris Rogers (2014) is an enlightening review of many economic alternatives, including co-operativism and what we may term "commons-ism" within and outside capitalism. As such it moves us from understanding better the problems of the historically unique and still the predominantly current orthodoxy to models for its replacement. That Canada's new government, elected in October 2015, is practicing the Keynesian brand of alternative, if not alternative to, capitalist economics, while another Canadian, Marc Carney, a tacit, rather then publicly extreme, acolyte of neo-liberal economics, has been installed as manager of the venerable Bank of England is, for Canada at least, one of those historical ironies one waits a long time to have the chance to savour.
NOTE TO THE CURIOUS: Rogers' book, like any other in-print title, can be purchased for $22, a significant discount, from our unionized TorontotheBetter book service. Just email postmaster at TorontotheBetter.net with Rogers in the subject line to place an order.