Mitchell Lecture Series

"The Tantalus of to-day" illustration by J.S. Pughe, for Puck Magazine, 1897. Image courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.

"The Tantalus of to-day" illustration by J.S. Pughe, for Puck Magazine, 1897. Image courtesy of the U.S. Library of Congress.

Fall 2018 Mitchell Lecture

Friday, November 9, 2018 at 2 p.m.
John Lord O'Brian Hall, Charles B. Sears Law Library
Free and open to the public.

Tempered Power, Variegated Capitalism, Law and Society

This lecture addresses the challenge of tempering power in a world of “variegated capitalisms”.

Today we find different kinds of capitalisms operating within one set of borders – for example, industrial capitalism, service economy capitalism, Silicon Valley, Wall Street financial capitalism, security state capitalism. Transnationally, the liberal market economies (e.g. US, UK) and coordinated market economies (various Northern European economies) are under challenge from authoritarian capitalist economies (e.g. China, Bangladesh, Russia, Poland), many of which are growing fast.  There are global connections among these different capitalisms. For example, liberal capitalisms spawn brands that are attracted to the absence of environmental and labor protections in authoritarian capitalist societies for factory production. All non-authoritarian capitalisms exploit internal authoritarian capitalisms in their service sectors, as in the exploitation of illegal immigrants or guest workers as cleaners and human trafficking of sex workers.

Labor law will be the main example used for examining the challenges of variegated capitalism. The demands of different capitalisms for regulation that empowers the weak are very different. Coordinated market economies demand strong labor laws; liberal market economies deregulate labor relations for labor market flexibility; authoritarian capitalism demands enclaves of non-existent labor law enforcement. Is there a strategy for the globalization of minimum labor standards that can counter the new range of moves available to capital on the chessboard of variegated capitalism? If time permits, competition law and tax law will be secondary examples.


John Braithwaite, Distinguished Professor, Australian National University

John Braithwaite, with Valerie Braithwaite, founded RegNet at the Australian National University, the School of Regulation and Global Governance. He is a former trustee of the Law and Society Association. He works on peacebuilding, crime and business regulation, conceiving responsive regulatory theory and restorative justice as having some useful relevance to all three domains. He has worked with many national governments and the United Nations in all three of these domains and has been active in social movement politics. His most recent book is Cascades of Violence: War, Crime and Peacebuilding in South Asia (2018 ANU Press, with Bina D'Costa).

The Mitchell Lecture Series was endowed in 1950 by a gift from Lavinia A. Mitchell, in memory of her husband, James McCormick Mitchell. An 1897 graduate of the Buffalo Law School, Mitchell later served as chairman of the Council of the University of Buffalo, which was then a private university.

Justice Robert H. Jackson delivered the first Mitchell Lecture in 1951, titled "Wartime Security and Liberty Under Law." The lecture was published that year in the first issue of the Buffalo Law Review.

These have included C. Edwin Baker, Derrick Bell, Barry Cushman, Carol Gilligan, Elizabeth Holtzman, Irene Zubaida Khan, Stewart Macaulay, Catharine MacKinnon, Carrie Menkel-Meadow, John Payton, Richard Posner, Hon. James Robertson and Clyde Summers among others.