Guest speaker, John Braithwaite, Distinguished Professor, Australian National University.

Guest speaker, John Braithwaite, Distinguished Professor, Australian National University

Tempered Power, Variegated Capitalism, Law and Society

The challenge of tempering power in a world of “variegated capitalisms” was the topic of the Fall 2018 Mitchell Lecture on in the Charles B. Sears Law Library. The lecture featured John Braithwaite, distinguished professor at Australian National University’s School of Regulation and Global Governance.

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.

Fall 2018 Mitchell Lecture

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.