A major reappraisal, by Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel-prizewinning economist, of the relationship between capitalism and freedom.
Despite its manifest failures, the narrative of neoliberalism retains its grip on the public mind and the policies of governments all over the world. By this narrative, less regulation and more ‘animal spirits’ capitalism produces not only greater prosperity, but more freedom for individuals in society – and is therefore morally better.
But, in The Road to Freedom Stiglitz asks, whose freedom are we – should we be – thinking about? What happens when one person’s freedom comes at the expense of another’s? Should the freedoms of corporations be allowed to impinge upon those of individuals in the ways they now do?
Taking on giants of neoliberalism such as Hayek and Friedman and examining how public opinion is formed, Stiglitz reclaims the language of freedom from the right to show that far from ‘free’ – unregulated – markets promoting growth and enterprise, they in fact reduce it, lessening economic opportunities for majorities and siphoning wealth from the many to the few – both individuals and countries. He shows how neoliberal economics and its implied moral system have impacted our legal and social freedoms in surprising ways, from property and intellectual rights, to education and social media.
Stiglitz’s eye, as always, is on how we might create the true human flourishing which should be the great aim of our economic and social system, and offers an alternative to that prevailing today. The Road to Freedom offers a powerful re-evaluation of democracy, economics and what constitutes a good society—and provides a roadmap of how we might achieve it.