Michael Lind

Michael Lind is policy director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation. His most recent book is Parallel Lives: Poems.

Recent Articles

The Cost of Free Trade

Every president asserts that the next trade treaty will turn America into an export powerhouse, but that's just not true.

A ny renaissance of American manufacturing must begin by fundamentally reversing our trade policies—both in general and in particular toward China. Over the past two decades, leading U.S. manufacturers, both the venerable (like General Electric) and the new (like Apple), have offshored millions of jobs—by one recent estimate, 2.9 million—to China to take advantage of the cheap labor, generous state subsidies, and low currency valuation that are linchpins of China’s mercantilist development strategy. Other factors, including increasingly automated production, have also taken a toll on America’s manufacturing workforce, but it’s the mass exodus of American production to China and, more recently, the rise of indigenous, state-subsidized Chinese production that have decimated American industry and reduced the incomes of American workers. The United States government did not have to stand idly by while the nation’s industrial base was disassembled. It could have preserved and promoted key...

Beyond Limits

Sometimes, to understand man, we need to look to the stars.

Star Marker by Olaf Stapledon.
The book that influenced my vision of the world more than any other is, by conventional literary standards, a very bad work of fiction. There are no characters in the traditional sense, nothing much in the way of a plot, and the writing is often stilted or crude. Yet the book inspired Jorge Luis Borges to write an introduction declaring that its author's "literary imagination was almost boundless," and moved the literary critic Leslie Fiedler to write the author's biography. Star Maker was first published in 1937 by William Olaf Stapledon. Stapledon (1886–1950) received a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Liverpool and made a living by teaching at workers' associations and colleges in the United Kingdom. He would be completely forgotten if he had not written two unique works of science fiction. When I was in junior high, I came across his first novel, Last and First Men (1930), an imaginary history of the future in which our descendants evolve into numerous successive...

Democracy Without People

Is citizenship possible without nationalism? Following Jurgen Habermas, Jan-Werner Muller argues that "constitutional patriotism" is a viable alternative.

Constitutional Patriotism , by Jan-Werner Müller, Princeton University Press, 177 pages, $19.95 Ours is an age of liberal nationalism, the political doctrine that holds that the state should be democratic in form and national in content. The Cold War coincided with the emergence of new nations out of the European empires, and it was followed by the breakup along national lines of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia. Not all countries are democratic, but authoritarian states like China and Egypt do not promote a rival, universal model the way that militant communists and fascists did. Not all states are nation-states, but most violent conflict in the world today, from Iraq to Palestine to Tibet and Chechnya, involves stateless nations seeking nation-states of their own. Except in the special case of Europe, no significant movements in the world seek to replace the nation-state with some other form of political organization. And even in Europe, the transcendence of the...

From Fantasy to Fiasco

The convergence of conservative nationalists and neoconservatives within the Bush administration, and the deadly fantasies it spawned.

Daydream Believers: How a Few Grand Ideas Wrecked American Power by Fred Kaplan (John Wiley & Sons, 246 pages, $25.95) Darth Vader makes a better villain than Mr. Magoo. A sinister mastermind is not only more dramatic than a myopic bumbler but more reassuring, because a universe controlled by a malevolent intelligence is at least controlled by intelligence. For this reason, explanations of the Bush administration's disastrous foreign policy in Iraq and the world in terms of Halliburton profits and alleged connections between the House of Bush and the House of Saud satisfy many who recoil from the depressing thought that a great nation could be led into disaster by people who are well intentioned and sincerely deluded. The latter proposition is the thesis of Daydream Believers , by Fred Kaplan, the "War Stories" columnist of Slate magazine. Supplementing well-known facts with fresh reporting, Kaplan makes the case, no less true for being familiar, that two broad streams of thought...

The Imperial Fallacy

Is the United States an empire, a hegemon, or what? And whatever happened to the idea of the U.S. as an exemplary liberal democracy?

Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance -- and Why They Fall by Amy Chua (Doubleday, 432 pages, $27.95) Among Empires: American Ascendancy and Its Predecessors by Charles S. Maier (Harvard University Press, 373 pages, $27.95) The age of imperialism is ended," Sumner Welles, Franklin D. Roosevelt's under secretary of state, declared in 1942. Welles would have been shocked to learn that six decades later a number of American foreign policy thinkers would matter-of-factly describe the United States as an empire. "The fact of American empire is hardly debated these days," Thomas Donnelly, a neoconservative foreign policy analyst, wrote in Foreign Affairs in 2002. Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department asked selected historians what lessons Americans could learn from empires of the past. Marxists, to be sure, had always described the United States as an empire, and for generations conservative isolationists have complained that the American republic gave way to an empire with...

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