Is the State Here to Stay?

Jonathan S. Blake in Boston Review: In early 2022, the Economist decried “governments’ widespread new fondness for interventionism.” The state was “becoming bossier” and “more meddlesome,” it complained. In fact, the state’s punitive arm was plenty active in the United States and the United Kingdom during the decades that neoliberalism shredded public investment and public goods…

…the administrative and development elements of today’s American state looks very different than they did in 1990 or even 2010. This new statism is a direct response to the rise of China… …Many left-of-center officials and policy intellectuals have concluded that both national security and the preservation of democracy against populist threats require more vigorous government control over markets…

The State
Philip Pettit; Princeton University Press, $39.95 (cloth)
The Project-State and Its Rivals: A New History of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
Charles S. Maier; Harvard University Press, $45 (cloth)
The Life and Death of States: Central Europe and the Transformation of Modern Sovereignty
Natasha Wheatley; Princeton University Press, $45 (cloth)

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a massive increase in state intervention around the world as governments pumped their economies full of cash and undertook public health measures—“among history’s largest exercises in state power,” in historian Peter Baldwin’s analysis. China’s zero-COVID interventions were perhaps the most dramatic example. Xi Jinping has also reversed a three-decade trend toward decentralization, using the state to support allies and key industries, promote an anti-inequality “Common Prosperity” agenda, and crack down on independent sources of power. Russia, for its part, has turned to the state to mobilize the Russian economy and society into a war machine, while the European Union is easing off ordoliberalism to promote a green agenda with carbon tariffs and has even taken steps toward becoming more state-like, issuing common debt for the first time during the pandemic…

More here.