The neoliberal 1980s of austerity and privatization may appear as a break with the past—perhaps a model of government drawn up by libertarian economists. Not so, says Amy Offner
in her spectacular new book, Sorting Out the Mixed Economy: The Rise and Fall of Welfare and Developmental States in the Americas
(Princeton University Press, 2019). Offner, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania, shows how strategies such as self-help housing, for-profit privatized state-functions, and austere social programs were well-trodded decades earlier in the mid-century “mixed economy.” She also shows how these statebuilding strategies and their advocates moved back and forth between Latin America and the United States.
Sorting Out the Mixed Economy
brings together the history of U.S. foreign relations with that of domestic policy and of capitalism, and is therefore bound to shake up all three. Experts of each are well-advised to spend time with Offner’s provocative but wise analysis.
Dexter Fergie is a PhD student of US and global history at Northwestern University. He is currently researching the 20th-century geopolitical history of information and communications networks. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DexterFergie.