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On America´s malaise

Helmut K. Anheier says it’s time to ponder the causes, not the symptoms, of America’s malaise.

Paul Krugman wonders in today´s New York Times whether the United States is on the verge of becoming a failed society. He no longer feels confident in his answer and writes “I thought there were more Americans who believe in progress and equality than there were Americans who were racist, xenophobic, misogynistic and homophobic.” These are strong words, to be sure, and they are also wrong and reflect a profound misdiagnosis of the fundamental dynamics that have shaped American society in recent decades. At the core of America´s misery as a society is a tragic failure of politics – not of making people less racist, xenophobic and so on – but of managing the challenges neoliberal policies meant for society. Politics left American society alone, somehow believing and without any deeper thinking that the market and the promise of the American Dream would do the trick. They did not.

Originally published in the Hertie School Research Blog

Illustration credit: Roland Brückner /


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