cover image Sugar Daddy Capitalism: The Dark Side of the New Economy

Sugar Daddy Capitalism: The Dark Side of the New Economy

Peter Fleming. Polity, $22.95 trade paper (184p) ISBN 978-1-5095-2820-2

Fleming (The Death of Homo Economicus), professor of business and society at the Cass Business School, breaks down some of the characteristic phenomena of the era of neoliberal capitalism in this cheeky yet scholarly left-leaning overview. He posits that the drive to deregulate and decentralize economic life, as theorized by right-libertarian Chicago School economists, has led to alienation, exploitation of those with less power, and a sometimes “sleazy” blurring of the boundaries between economic and personal life (hence the title). Though some of what Fleming describes is new, he notes that Western societies have seen similar phenomena before, during the notoriously exploitative Gilded Age. He connects these cultural currents to the views of right-wing politicians and voters as well as academics such as the Chicago School’s theorists. While they imagined deformalization would do away with problems such as hiring bias and exploitation, it has actually, Fleming argues, increased both, leaving workers ever more at the personal mercy of others. To counter this “troubling amalgam of heartless individualism, ultra-objective metrics, and close-contact trauma,” he champions the development of radical “people’s bureaucracies” that can enable democratic governance in multiple spheres of life. This fast-paced, informal text, broken into short sections with jocular titles such as “How to Die on the Inside,” is like having a conversation with a friendly professor. [em](Nov.) [/em]