Reviews for Evil Geniuses

by Kurt Andersen

Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

How inequality happened in America. Journalist, editor, magazine founder (Spy, Inside), and host of the public radio broadcast “Studio 360,” Andersen builds on the political and cultural critique he offered in his last book with a timely, hard-hitting analysis of America’s “hijacked, screwed-up political economy.” “Whereas Fantasyland concerned Americans’ centuries-old weakness for the untrue and irrational, and its spontaneous and dangerous flowering since the 1960s,” he writes, “Evil Geniuses chronicles the quite deliberate reengineering of our economy and society since the 1960s by a highly rational confederacy of the rich, the right, and big business.” Synthesizing many works on capitalism, inequality, greed, and corruption, Andersen focuses on the “hyperselfishness” that took hold in the 1970s, when economic equality was “at its peak.” What Tom Wolfe called the “Me Decade” extended beyond personal behavior to infect the nation’s economy, leading to “strategizing, funding, propagandizing, mobilizing, lobbying, and institution-building” by big business, turning the U.S. political economy “into a winner-take-all casino economy.” The author sees the ’70s as a turning point in American life that gave rise to neoliberalism, a move toward deregulation of business, and a glorification of a culture of greed. “The anti-Establishment subjectivity and freedom to ignore experts and believe in make-believe that exploded in the ’60s was normalized and spread during the ’70s and beyond,” he writes (especially during Reagan’s presidency) and is in evidence today in a mistrust of government—regulations, taxes, oversight—and a nostalgia for some imagined, stable past. Andersen believes that change can occur, unrelated to partisan politics: He urges Americans to push for “goals that can seem radical—lots more power for workers and average citizens, optimizing the economy for all Americans rather than maximizing it for rich ones and corporations—but then being nondoctrinaire about how we achieve the goals.” A rousing call for desperately needed systemic transformation. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

How inequality happened in America.Journalist, editor, magazine founder (Spy, Inside), and host of the public radio broadcast Studio 360, Andersen builds on the political and cultural critique he offered in his last book with a timely, hard-hitting analysis of Americas hijacked, screwed-up political economy. Whereas Fantasyland concerned Americans centuries-old weakness for the untrue and irrational, and its spontaneous and dangerous flowering since the 1960s, he writes, Evil Geniuses chronicles the quite deliberate reengineering of our economy and society since the 1960s by a highly rational confederacy of the rich, the right, and big business. Synthesizing many works on capitalism, inequality, greed, and corruption, Andersen focuses on the hyperselfishness that took hold in the 1970s, when economic equality was at its peak. What Tom Wolfe called the Me Decade extended beyond personal behavior to infect the nations economy, leading to strategizing, funding, propagandizing, mobilizing, lobbying, and institution-building by big business, turning the U.S. political economy into a winner-take-all casino economy. The author sees the 70s as a turning point in American life that gave rise to neoliberalism, a move toward deregulation of business, and a glorification of a culture of greed. The anti-Establishment subjectivity and freedom to ignore experts and believe in make-believe that exploded in the 60s was normalized and spread during the 70s and beyond, he writes (especially during Reagans presidency) and is in evidence today in a mistrust of governmentregulations, taxes, oversightand a nostalgia for some imagined, stable past. Andersen believes that change can occur, unrelated to partisan politics: He urges Americans to push for goals that can seem radicallots more power for workers and average citizens, optimizing the economy for all Americans rather than maximizing it for rich ones and corporationsbut then being nondoctrinaire about how we achieve the goals.A rousing call for desperately needed systemic transformation. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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