Indra de Soysa
Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU)
Collier suggests that Brexit and Donald Trump symbolize anxieties about capitalism. Economists, apparently, owe the world a mea culpa because they overestimate the benefits of globalization. Breaking with his profession, which sees aggregate gain as a good thing – where winners can compensate losers – Collier argues that distributional issues matter. Apparently, people don’t just maximize utilities, they care about community and belonging. Such sweeping assessments don’t really explain why people voted for Trump or Brexit. Collier's solutions to the crisis are based on pragmatism rather than the empty promises of populists or the ideologies of political parties. He argues that companies should be more ’community’ focused. Ordinary people need to match their rights with being responsible. Bottom-up solutions are the answer. Collier uses Johnson & Johnson as an example of a socially conscious company, but this company was implicated recently in the opioid crisis in the US. Collier offers mostly traditional conservative solutions, to keep government at bay and empower communities. He gives special attention to youth, who are susceptible to ’missing the boat’ – but did the young really vote for Brexit? The crisis of capitalism might be exaggerated, and the pragmatic solutions offered might not be so novel after all. What is discernibly new, however, is Collier’s view of human nature – the voter in Sheffield and Ohio is at odds with the loot-seeking rebels in his brilliant analyses of armed conflict. The book certainly offers much to think about and digest in these uncertain times.