A very bad book
By Alberto Mingardi
Rethinking Capitalism is but the latest example of a notable stream of literature blaming capitalism for not accommodating the desires of its authors as quickly and comprehensively as they would like. Make no mistake, though, it is in its own way an important work. Arguments such as the ones I’ve explored won’t convince an educated layman who comes to the book with no predisposition on the matter. But they are a formidable device to strengthen the convictions of those who already support big government. They would have us believe that the state is good in precisely those circumstances where even most interventionists have typically accepted that it is not: in prompting innovation.
The fact that markets produce innovation, and government doesn’t, is often considered such a truism that it is not even worth restating the case. Thanks to Mazzucato’s indefatigable proselytising for the “entrepreneurial state“, some people are now starting to challenge this apparent truism, building on the supposed evidence of US military spending translating into technological breakthroughs, which are then exploited by free enterprises years later. It is a bit surprising to hear the left going for guns instead of butter, but this is a growing trend. As I argue in the review, I think this is by and large based on a view of the economy which over-emphasizes the producers’ side and doesn’t grasp the importance of consumers’ feedback for transforming new technologies into “stuff” which is of use for a vast number of people.