Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism by Mariana Mazzucato; The Upswing: How We Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again by Robert D Putnam, with Shaylyn Romney Garrett - review by Frances Cairncross

Frances Cairncross

From Generation We to Generation Me

Mission Economy: A Moonshot Guide to Changing Capitalism

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Allen Lane 272pp £20 order from our bookshop

The Upswing: How We Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again

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Swift 448pp £25 order from our bookshop
 

Here are two books by social scientists who have very different views of the world but share a certain optimism and a belief that humanity can do better when we emerge from the pandemic.

Of the two, Mariana Mazzucato’s Mission Economy is likely to be the more influential. She has, after all, an attractive ambition: ‘to rethink capitalism through rethinking the state’. She has approached this task with the help of politicians across the world, including, in Britain, Nicola Sturgeon and the former business minister Greg Clarke, and elsewhere, Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, and Giuseppe Conte, the prime minister of Italy. Clearly, a lot of significant people are unhappy with the workings of capitalism and the state.

Mazzucato, a professor of economics at University College London, does not seem to have worked in government, but she has clear advice as to what is required. She writes:

The ambition of government should be to set off catalytic reactions across society, an important part of which would be performing as

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