Jeff Faux's "The Myth of the New Democrats" (TAP, Fall 1993) is illuminating--but in unintentional ways. It highlights the unresolved tension in The American Prospect's editorial persona: though dedicated to rethinking old liberal assumptions, the magazine often shies from conclusions that defy liberal orthodoxy. TAP thus oscillates between earnest stabs at policy innovation and purse-lipped attempts to suppress heresy and enforce liberal dogma. Faux's polemic falls in the latter category.
The economic orthodoxy that guides the management of the global economy has failed to deliver. During the past two decades of accelerated privatization, deregulation, and free trade, global growth has actually slowed. The countries (mostly Asian) that grew faster rejected the advice of the bankers, bureaucrats, consultants, and media pundits who constitute the Washington Consensus on such matters. At the same time, inequality both in developed and in developing countries has generally worsened and poverty is spreading. Even James Wolfensohn, president of the World Bank, has observed: "At the level of people, the system isn't working."
Every economic system develops a politics around the institutions and rules that govern it. The economic system now being created by the relentless merging of the world's markets will be no exception. But what global politics will emerge to match the new global economy?