It is the fate of famous thinkers to be reduced to caricature. Those outside the limelight at least keep their nuance.
Since reading Zachary Carter’s biography of Keynes earlier this year, I’ve been exploring more of the great man’s nuance. ‘Keynesian’ is now synonymous with massive crisis spending programs, but this characterisation both fails to adequately describe the practicalities of a Keynesian program, while omitting entirely the Keynesian political project.
A more complete interrogation is the goal of this 2018 book review in the LRB by Adam Tooze. This passage in particular was striking:
We live in an age where geopolitics is again an everyday issue. Even in quiet Australia, we’re grappling with the consequences of great power politics thanks to our own trade war with China. While the main stars – China, the US, the EU – are familiar, the global cast is actually far larger.
Adam Tooze’s latest newsletter introduces us to some of the future geopolitical players in sub-Saharan Africa, in particular Nigeria. If like me, your understanding of Africa is limited, I highly recommend reading it.
If I had one gripe, its with the ‘demographic determinism’ that lurks here. African countries will experience the bulk of population growth this century, so the argument goes, giving them more geopolitical significance.
It seems reasonable that three or four hundred million people create a concomitant kind of economic and political heft, but it also seems plausible they act as anchors – at least in the medium term. We need to interrogate how exactly rapid population growth translates one into a geopolitical power (or prey).
Do check it out.
Adam Tooze is the latest addition to Substack. I highly recommend checking out numbers 8 and 9 of his newsletter. They discuss contemporary political and economic trends in China, and what they mean for the longevity of its new model of state capitalism. This passage in particular stood out for me:
Wash them down with a re-read of Francis Fukuyama’s famous 1989 article: “The End of History“
I recently started reading Crashed again; Adam Tooze’s history of the GFC and its aftermath. Its brilliance comes from his ability to take the reader through the opaque barrier that surrounds modern finance, while situating it within a broader narrative of geopolitics and institutional change going back to the 1960s. This book is a vital guide to understanding the world we live in.
In saying that, my edition clocks in at 600 pages, and it does not spare you detail like “collateral rehypothecation.” Come prepared.