** Please note: Those planning to attend events in this series should read the paper that will be posted on the CES website before the seminar.**
“Dire Straits” is the fourth and last chapter of the book manuscript “Democratic Capitalism at a Crossroads”. The latter’s first three chapters (“Manchester”, “Detroit”, and “Silicon Valley”) describe the three main periods (or modalities) of capitalism that emerged sequentially in a particular location (and a specific period of time) and then irradiated to the rest of the (advanced) world: Manchester in the 1830s; Detroit in the 1910s; Silicon Valley in the 1970s. More precisely, each chapter describes their type and level of automatization in production, the particular kind of labor that was complementary to capital in each period, and their consequences for the structure of employment and the distribution of wages and income. The “Manchester” and “Detroit” chapters also include a discussion of the nature of politics under each type of capitalism. “Dire Straits” examines the political consequences of Silicon Valley capitalism ( and its gradual automatization of routine (manual and non-manual) tasks, the hollowing of middle-skill jobs, globalization 2.0, and wage and income inequality): growing political indifference among the losers of Silicon Valley; increasing electoral abstention; and, in the absence of significant departures away from the ‘embedded liberalism’ consensus by mainstream parties, the irruption of “populist” parties. The chapter closes with a reflection on the future evolution of capitalism and the ways in which it may impinge on democracy and the welfare state.