Paul Starr

Paul Starr is co-founder and co-editor of the The American Prospect. and professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton University. A winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction and the Bancroft Prize in American history, he is the author of seven books, including most recently Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Heath Care Reform (Yale University Press, revised ed. 2013). Click here to read more about Starr.

Recent Articles

Liberalism After Socialism

Some have long wanted to blend socialism and liberalism in a “third way”; that idea is now in ruins. But the alternative to a socialist liberalism need not be conservative. There is a liberalism that is serious, realistic, and where necessary even radical about liberal purposes.

Over the past century, many reformers and critics in the West have believed that liberal democratic capitalism was evolving, inexorably and appropriately, toward a socialist, planned economy. Liberalism even in its modern form has seemed to them transitional and incomplete, outdated in its individualism, unsatisfying in its conception of the good life and the good society, inadequate to the demands of justice. Socialism would take civilization to a higher stage; it would fulfill ideals that liberalism professed but failed to honor, as well as ideals that liberalism failed even to profess. Those who have taken this view have not necessarily been Marxists. Most have been devoted to movements of reform rather than revolution and sought an alternative system that they hoped would achieve the best of both worlds, preserving the political freedoms of liberal democracy while introducing the economic planning, public ownership, and economic equality of socialism. This is the synthesis that...

Can Government Work?

Many Americans are convinced that there are no public solutions to national problems. Or if there are, that Congress could not enact them in rational form, and that we cannot afford the cost. Overcoming that pervasive skepticism demands a new era of political reform and a discriminating commitment to public remedy.

Americans may love their country; they may resent anyone showing the least disrespect for the flag. They may judge other countries to be better or worse depending on how closely those nations approximate the American political system. AR the same, they regard their own politicians and government with a mixture of skepticism and scorn. In the United States, especially since Reagan, distrust of the government has virtually become a mark of the authentic patriot. To show some confidence in government may not yet be subversive, but it does raise suspicions. Of course, skepticism about government is not an unreasonable impulse: a number of our recent leaders have seemed entirely worthy of it. A free people, moreover, ought not to be so taken with their government as to be taken in by it. But in a democracy, the government is their instrument for confronting problems that affect them collectively When the citizens of a nation give up on the integrity and efficacy of their government -- when...

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