What We Are Reading Today: The Economics of Belonging by Martin Sandbu

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Updated 29 June 2020

What We Are Reading Today: The Economics of Belonging by Martin Sandbu

Fueled by populism and the frustrations of the disenfranchised, the past few years have witnessed the widespread rejection of the economic and political order that Western countries built up after 1945. 

Political debates have turned into violent clashes between those who want to “take their country back” and those viewed as defending an elitist, broken, and unpatriotic social contract. 

There seems to be an increasing polarization of values. The Economics of Belonging argues that we should step back and take a fresh look at the root causes of our current challenges. 

In this original, engaging book, Martin Sandbu argues that economics remains at the heart of our widening inequality and it is only by focusing on the right policies that we can address it. He proposes a detailed, radical plan for creating a just economy where everyone can belong.

Sandbu demonstrates that the rising numbers of the left behind are not due to globalization gone too far. 

Rather, technological change and flawed but avoidable domestic policies have eroded the foundations of an economy in which everyone can participate—and would have done so even with a much less globalized economy. Sandbu contends that we have to double down on economic openness while pursuing dramatic reforms involving productivity, regional development, support for small- and medium-sized businesses, and increased worker representation. He discusses how a more active macroeconomic policy, education for all, universal basic income, and better taxation of capital could work together for society’s benefit.


What We Are Reading Today: Down from Olympus

Updated 06 July 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Down from Olympus

Since the publication of Eliza May Butler’s Tyranny of Greece over Germany in 1935, the obsession of the German educated elite with the ancient Greeks has become an accepted, if severely underanalyzed, cliché. In Down from Olympus, Suzanne Marchand attempts to come to grips with German Graecophilia, not as a private passion but as an institutionally generated and preserved cultural trope. 

The book argues that 19th-century philhellenes inherited both an elitist, normative aesthetics and an ascetic, scholarly ethos from their Romantic predecessors; German “neohumanists” promised to reconcile these intellectual commitments, and by so doing, to revitalize education and the arts. 

Focusing on the history of classical archaeology, Marchand shows how the injunction to imitate Greek art was made the basis for new, state-funded cultural institutions. 

Tracing interactions between scholars and policymakers that made possible grand-scale cultural feats like the acquisition of the Pergamum Altar.