Apr 5, 2021 • 1HR 41M

Freedom from the Market

Mike Konczal of the Roosevelt Institute discusses his new book with Will Wilkinson

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MODEL CITIZEN is an interview podcast that explores big, new ideas in politics and policy with captivating original thinkers ... premised on the idea that we have a duty as citizens and neighbors to build our mental models of the world with as little error, bias, and lunacy as possible. Guests discuss how they've arrived at their conclusions, mistakes they've made, people and methods they trust and distrust, and how they've changed their minds. Hosted by WILL WILKINSON, Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center and a New York Times contributing opinion writer.
Episode details

Nearly everyone agrees that the American system is, in some sense, rigged. If it is, then how did it get that way. Mike Konczal (@rortybomb), Director of Progressive Thought at the Roosevelt Institute, a left-leaning think tank, argues that America has come to rely too heavily on markets. In his new book, Freedom from the Market: America's Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand, Konczal pushes back against the idea that "neo-liberal" market dependency is natural, inevitable, or even especially American. Drawing on the history of American policy from the founding up to now, he argues that markets are inseparable from politics -- that they are, effectively, government programs. But markets don't necessarily give people what they need, can't provide essential goods to people who can't pay, and can leave us subject to domination from the economically powerful. In a wide-ranging conversation, we touch on the appeal and implications of the republican conception of freedom as non-domination, World War II-era government daycares, the function that Medicare played in desegregating hospitals, the nature of so-called neoliberalism, and a lot more. When Mike sent me his book, he included a note expressing his intention to turn me into a social democrat. I'm not sure that he succeeded, but one thing our chat made clear to me is that once you're willing to accept that markets are essentially political and that market structure is a policy choice, it’s possible to have a constructive conversation free of dogmatic ideological table-pounding.  

Mike Konczal


Freedom from the Market: America's Fight to Liberate Itself from the Grip of the Invisible Hand by Mike Konczal

From Slavery to the Cooperative Commonwealth: Labor and Republican Liberty in the Nineteenth Century  by Alex Gourevitch

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Social Insurance: With Special Reference to American Conditions by I.M. Rubinow (1918)

The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change? by Gerald Rosenberg

Kludgeocracy in America by Steven Teles, American Affairs

“Neoliberalism” isn’t an empty epithet. It’s a real, powerful set of ideas by Mike Konczal, Vox

The Submerged State: How Invisible Policies Undermine American Democracy by Suzanne Mettler

Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism by Melinda Cooper


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