fbpx
Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

The Last Gasp of an Ideology

Samuel Gregg’s utopian ideal of perfectly self-regulating markets, totally insulated from politics, offers little to inform practical policy.

Economist Milton Friedman

The Next American Economy: Nation, State, and Markets in an Uncertain World, by Samuel Gregg, Encounter Books, 336 pages.

Arriving amid widespread disillusionment with “market fundamentalism,” Samuel Gregg’s The Next American Economy is a right-wing neoliberal’s attempt to grapple with the disappointments of recent decades and to offer a vision of “market liberalism” grounded in American values. Gregg, to his credit, recognizes that the heady promises of the “end of history” have gone unfulfilled. Yet he seems to think the major problems are rhetorical, not substantive. Gregg pays lip service to concerns around national sovereignty, geopolitical competition, and so on, but offers no serious proposals for navigating situations in which market incentives conflict with national interests. Indeed, Gregg’s utopian ideal of perfectly self-regulating markets, totally insulated from politics, offers little to inform practical policy or to illuminate economic history. Rather than provide a fresh theoretical framework to encourage market competition or entrepreneurial innovation, the book mostly exposes the contradictions within Gregg’s own worldview.