Magazine August 12, 2019, Issue

The Return to Serfdom

A steel worker returns to work at U.S. Steel Granite City Works in Granite City, Ill. (Lawrence Bryant/Reuters)

I’m not a free-market fundamentalist. To me, the beauty of liberal capitalism lies in its performance: More people live well, and live longer, than ever before. Millions of working-class people have moved from poverty to become homeowners and have seen their offspring rise into the middle class or higher.

Today this egalitarian capitalist progress is showing signs of fading, not only in the United States but also in Europe, Australia, and increasingly East Asia. This marks a drastic reversal from the conditions that prevailed after World War II, when the incomes of those in the lower quintile surged by roughly 40

Joel KotkinMr. Kotkin is the presidential fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University in Orange, Calif., and the executive director of the Urban Reform Institute. His new book is The Coming of Neo-Feudalism.

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