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The result is that most apartments in the planning creates a sense of urbanity that By prizing only the value

only the value of liberty and


Bundle Matrix have four external facades. is at once unified within itself and porous hence of private property, Sandel has ar-
(Manhattanites, eat your hearts out.) to the surrounding environs. gued, liberalism disarmed itself in the
Wang Shu took a different approach None of these buildings would be des- battle against the power of money. The
in his six 26-story towers, the Vertical ignated affordable housing, but with the liberal state has allowed market prin-
Courtyard Apartments, that his firm, exception of Holls, none of them serve ciples to shape public debate and mold
Amateur Architecture Studio, built in only the upper 0.01 percent. All offer in- private consciousness, leaving a pub-
Hangzhou, China. These towers were novative, well-conceived solutions to the lic world in which (as Oscar Wilde said)
designed to house two-story apartments, problems that have dogged the high-rise too many of us know the price of every-
where every inhabitant would enjoy the residential tower for years and prompted thing and the value of nothing. So Sandel
illusion of living on the second floor, ac- previous generations to abandon it in dis- is trying to force open a space for a dis-
complished by folding concrete floor gust. For the many people who live with course on civic virtue that he believes has
planes (like bamboo mats, claims the but not in these prominent contribu- been abandoned by both left and right.
firm), so that every third story opens tions to the cityscape, these buildings are In his view, American progressiv-
into a private courtyard. In the larger handsome and elegant and fun. They es- ism has given up arguing that money is
towers, the two-story units are stacked cape standardizations deficits by offering sometimes corrupting, and contents it-
slightly askew, adding to the visual inter- many different kinds of living possibili- self with believing that a fairer redistribu-
est of the variegated faades. Steven Holl, ties and experiences. They offer on- and tion of wealth is the sum and substance
in his Linked Hybrid in Beijing, takes a off-the-ground opportunities to partake of political justice. And if the progressive
more urbanistic approach to the problem in natures pleasance. And most impres- left ignores the corruption of wealth, the
of the tower complex, connecting eight sively, they make good on the high-rise conservative right moralizes riches as a
towers with bridges and ground-level residential complexs promise, which validation of personal effort and a sign of
public spaces housing retail, a swimming generations of architects have sought personal virtue. But as Sandel wrote in
pool, indoor and outdoor gardens, a kin- and largely failed to realize, of offering 2009, Justice is not only about the right
dergarten, and a movie theater. Although a variety of good public as well as a vari- way to distribute things. It is also about
Linked Hybrid is the least skillfully com- ety of good private spacesvertical cit- the right way to value things. Certain
posed of these projects, its presence is ies in the sky. Living high need no longer things of valuelove, loyalty, friendship,
impressively muscular, and Holls site mean living low. 1 honorare corrupted when we try to
put a price on them. Restoring the value
of what is beyond price should go hand
in hand, he argues, with a politics of the
Michael Ignatieff public good, a good in common that is

THE PRICE OF EVERYTHING more than the maximized economic util-


ity of solitary individuals.
This style of civic moralism certainly
deserves a place between the hectoring
WHAT MONEY CANT BUY: first book, Liberalism and the Limits of discourses of left and right; and as the
THE MORAL LIMITS OF MARKETS Justice, which appeared thirty years ago, popularity of Sandels lectures suggests,
By Michael J. Sandel he has been the most prominent critic he has attracted a large audience with
(Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, of John Rawlss idea that the liberal state it. The problem is that it is not at all ob-
256 pp., $27) must be neutral in relation to the pub- vious what kind of politics it is. Sandel
lic good. He thinks that the liberal state is too committed to liberty to legislate

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I. cannot be neutral because it must pro- virtue and too committed to the public
years, Har- tect the lives and the interests of individ- good to let the market rip. Where this
vard undergraduates have uals, and its laws, taken as a whole, enact leaves him is less than clear. He believes
packed Sanders Theater for Mi- a particular vision not merely of the right that the civic virtues are like muscles,
chael Sandels course on justice. but also of the good. strengthened by exercise and atrophied
PBS has broadcast the lectures The ultimate good in a liberal state is with disuse, so he wants Americans to
and more than three and a half million liberty. But Sandel thinks that liberty is exercise their public virtues in order to
people have clicked to watch them on You not enough for life in a liberal order. A weaken the influence of money on their
Tube. Thanks to all this exposure, Sandel liberal political order should be more private motives. He thinks they can do
has become the most famous teacher of ambitious. It should aim at soulcraft, this in a public conversation about virtue,
philosophy in the world, and his classes or the shaping of a citizens character. rather like his Harvard classes. These are
sober, good-humored, serioushave It should promote the virtues of honor, estimable sentiments. But once the con-
shown that it is possible to take philoso- respect, and sacrifice, and wean people versation is over and we have all had our
phy into the public square without insult- away from private selfishness, and make say, it is unclear what public policy we
ing the publics intelligence. them more devoted to the public good. should support. The question that hov-
The doctrine that Sandel wants to take Without these civic virtues, the liberal ers over what Sandel is trying to do is
into the square is a sustained critique republic will lack the community spirit whether it is a politics at all, or just an
from something like the centerof lib- to maintain a healthy democracy. As he elegiac jeremiad to lost virtues.
eralism as a public philosophy. Since his once observed, The public philosophy

Michael Ignatieff, former leader of the Lib-


eral Party in Canada, teaches politics at the
University of Toronto.
by which we live cannot secure the lib-
erty it promises because it cannot in-
spire the sense of community and civic
engagement that liberty requires.
J corrupting
effect of money and greed on republi-
can virtue go back a long wayall the
way to the Stoic critics of the late Roman

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republic. This language of virtue and As the saga of capitalism played out summary of the precarious balance that
corruption has shaped the Western de- in the nineteenth century, however, no these social struggles achieved. We allow
bate about what money does to our souls oneneither the poor below nor the rich exchanges for some goods and block ex-
and our public life. After the fall of Rome, abovetrusted to the invisible hand to changes for others. We do not buy and
Christianity took charge of the struggle produce public good. Intense politi- sell persons; votes; public offices; crim-
to roll back moneys empire. Christ driv- cal struggles ensued over the question inal justice; freedoms of speech, press,
ing the money changers from the temple of what money should and should not religion, or assembly; marriage or pro-
inspired two thousand years of righteous buy. In Adam Smiths day, human be- creation rights; or exemption from mili-
anger at moneys profanation of the sa- ings were bought and sold. The Atlan- tary service. Police, fire, and ambulance
cred. When capitalist societies emerged tic slave trade was in its heyday. Police, services are provided through general
in early modern Europe, Christianity fo- fire and health services, and prisons were taxation. Prizes and honors cannot be
cused on the private realm, the corrosive businesses run for profit. In many Euro- purchased. If the politics of capitalist so-
effect of money on peoples souls, while pean states, the collection of taxes was ciety so far has been a struggle to define
the republican language of virtue and cor- farmed out to private hands. Public of- what money can and cannot buy, politics
ruption focused on the public realm, cap- fices and seats in legislative assemblies has won some victories over the power of
turing moral unease about what money traded for cash. The rich bought them- the market and the battle is not over.
was doing to politics. Moralists from Ma- selves out of conscription as late as the

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chiavelli to Mandeville asked how mar- American Civil War. forty years of market fun-
ket societies, driven by greed and avarice, Thanks to titanic social struggles waged damentalism and free-market ascen-
could generate the public virtues neces- by the emerging working classes and the dancy, where are we in this perennial
sary to maintain free government. campaigns of conscience by the philan- struggle? This is the subject of Sandels
One of the most interesting moments thropic middle class, new limits were new book. While the book is called What
in the encounter between the classi- placed on what money could buy. By the Money Cant Buy, most of it is taken up by
cal language of virtue and the emerging 1860s, you could no longer buy and sell examples to show that these days money
discourse of capitalist modernity oc- human beings: both American slavery can buy almost everything.
curred in 1756, when a young law pro- and Russian serfdom had been abolished. Scientific and medical advances have
fessor in Scotland wrote a review of a Wage slavery, as it had been called, was opened the door to unimagined forms
new discourse on the origins of inequal- regulated by factory acts and the emerg- of commercialization. Globalization
ity among mankind recently published ing power of unions. Across Europe and has made it possible for us to spend our
in Geneva. The young law professor was North America, services such as police, money wherever we wish. We can rent
Adam Smith and the new essay was by fire, ambulance, libraries, and hospitals the wombs of poor Indian women and
Jean Jacques Rousseau. Rousseaus dis- were taken into public ownership and de- have our children incubated there; we
course passionately denounced the av- livered to citizens free at the point of ser- can buy or sell organs for transplanta-
arice and greed of modern market vice. Taxes were no longer farmed and tion and blood for transfusions. Pharma-
economies and their corrupting impact offices were no longer put up for sale. ceutical companies will pay us well for
on republican virtue. The young Scottish Sandels Democracys Discontent, the privilege of turning our bodies into
professor replied that egalitarian repub- which appeared in 1996, traced this his- guinea pigs to test their drugs.
lics might be virtuous, but their poorest tory as it played out in America, from Jef- Commerce has changed the ethics of
members were also miserably poor. He fersons vision of a republic saved from citizenship and the incentives for na-
argued that avarice and self-interest were mercantile and industrial corruption by tional service. America now buys private
the engines of economic progress. The virtuous agriculture, right through to the contractorswe used to call them mer-
new wealth made possible by the division Progressive eras faith that government cenariesto do the countrys fighting.
of labor raised up the lower orders of so- regulation could save the republic from American citizens still cannot buy their
ciety and assured that modern com- the despotism of big money. He told the way out of jury service or other civic re-
mercial society would grow beyond the story of how American democracy bat- sponsibilities, but thanks to Citizens
narrow confines of an authoritarian re- tled to put money in its place and its United, the rich now have essentially un-
public of virtue. worth remembering that Andrew Jack- limited opportunity to bombard their fel-
The classical economics that emerged sons campaign against the banks, The- low citizens with political advertising.
after 1750 was a root and branch attack odore Roosevelts war on the trusts, and Sandels book is a bemused and occa-
on the economic assumptions that un- Franklin Roosevelts regulation of Wall sionally incredulous inventory of how far
derlay classical republicanism. Rousseaus Street were all battles won. money values have penetrated into Amer-
politics, the economists pointed out, re- Thanks to those victories, history did ican life. Instead of lining up to get into
quired autarchywith taxes on luxury, not lead where Marx, following Rous- a congressional hearing in Washington,
limits on the size of the republic, bans seau, thought it would lead: to the steady you can pay people to line up for you; you
on foreigners, and tariffs on foreign trade, contamination of public virtue by private can pay for the privilege of a fast-track
all enforced by the majoritarian tyranny selfishness. The actual history of capital- through airport security; teachers who
of the general will. If this was where a ist society turned out to be more hope- want kids to learn bribe them to read;
politics of virtue led, the classical politi- ful and ambiguousa constant struggle governments pay people to lose weight
cal economists argued, who would want between market forces seeking to pene- and to stop smoking. Market incentives
it? Instead of the tyranny of enforced vir- trate consciousness and democratic pol- bribesare replacing regulation as the
tue, the political economists preached itics pushing back and seeking to keep chief instrument of public policy. Some
the vision of a natural system of liberty money from taking over our souls and things still remain priceless, but for ev-
in which the invisible hand would trans- our politics. erything else theres Master Card.
mute the avarice and greed of individuals Michael Walzers Spheres of Justice, When markets rule and everything
into the public good of wealth for all. published in 1982, offered a brilliant has a price, Sandel argues, it makes in-

24 J , T N R
equality worse. A public realm where arate lives. We live and work and shop an explanatory narrative. As middle-
money buys everything is even harder and play in different places. Our children class incomes stagnated and resistance
on the poor than a world where the rich go to separate schools. You might call it to taxation grew, the republic came to
are simply richer. A society that main- the skyboxification of American life. It is depend more heavily on corporations
tains a decent public transit system, pub- not good for democracy, nor is it a satis- and wealthy individuals to provide pub-
lic libraries, and parks and recreation will fying way to live. lic goods. These corporations and indi-
close fewer doors of opportunity for the viduals secure naming rights for their

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poor than a society where these goods are a powerful cry of bequests, and so our public spacesno-
available at a price. Moreover, inequality protest at these developments, but where more so than in universitiesbe-
also compromises freedom. Liberal soci- he provides no real explanation of come billboards to their munificence.
eties pose only two questions about any why they are happening. He says that Sandels denunciation of these aspects
economic transaction: is it free and is it we have drifted from having a mar- of money power is forceful, but he passes
fair? But when the very poor are offered ket economy to being a market society. over more egregious examples, especially
money for their organs or for sex, and fi- But drifting does not feel like what actu- the relentless ideological justification of
nancial incentives to read a book or lose ally happened. What happened was that economic inequality. He has a lot to say
weight, who can say the transaction is ei- a politics of money beat a politics of pub- about money, but curiously little to say
ther free or fair? lic goods. From the mid-1960s onward, about income inequality. Wealth has al-
Sandel believes that we should ask a anyone with eyes to see has noticed that ways moralized itself as virtue, as a just
third question: does the transaction cor- conservative parties everywhere, but es- reward for individual effort, intelligence,
rupt the good? We corrupt a public of- pecially in the United States, have waged and acumen; but as the gap between
fice if we use it for financial gain. Women relentless attack on the public goods cre- middle-class incomes and high-flyer in-
corrupt their bodies, Sandel would argue, ated by the liberal state. Americans were comes has grown, the moral justifications
if they rent their wombs as baby factories sold the idea that the liberal state was a of great wealth have become especially
for wealthy couples. Putting a price on coercive, rent-seeking parasite. Econo- shameless. It is as if every well-paid CEO
the good things in life can corrupt them. mists such as Gary Becker provided the believes that he is Steve Jobs, with an en-
Thats because markets dont only allocate intellectual firepower for this attack, and titlement to wealth grounded in innova-
goods; they also express and promote cer- while Sandel criticizes Beckers work, he tion and leadership. In reality, most highly
tain attitudes towards the goods being ex- does not connect the imperial ascen- paid Americans would be hard-pressed
changed. Paying for an autograph from dancy of free-market economics with to name the innovations that justify their
a sports hero feels cheap compared with the disintegration of the liberal state and salaries, and after the bailouts, it is not at
the thrill when your hero signs it for you the penetration of money power into do- all obvious why they deserve huge sala-
for free. Paying a kid to read corrupts mains of American life once provisioned ries for leadership. While no American
his intrinsic motivation, as it does when and protected by that state. will ever begrudge rewards for hard work
you pay an obese person to lose weight. The story of how public goods were and long hours, so much more of the off-
Monetary incentives, as Ruth Grant starved over the past sixty years seems the-charts returns to high-flyers have to
has argued in Strings Attached, crowd obvious in retrospect. The new post-in- do with luck, birth, inheritance, chance,
out moral motive. Pecuniary incentives dustrial American economy stripped out regulatory capture, and more than a lit-
also have perverse effects: Sandel tells old industrial and managerial jobs and tle help from their friends.
the story of the Israeli kindergarten that left middle-class wages stagnating while

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tried to get parents to pick their kids up a high-flying minority in the new finan- next to nothing to say
on time by introducing fines if they were cial services and high-tech sectors surged about the way in which the new in-
late. Parents treated them as a fee and the ahead. The middle class clung to their equality has spawned a new culture
lateness problem got worse. standard of living by getting ever further of moral entitlement that equates wealth
When money becomes the price of ev- into debt. Families squeezed between ris- with virtue. He also has next to nothing
erything, Sandel argues, it corrupts mo- ing debt and stagnating wages welcomed to say about the corruption of politics by
tivations, degrades pleasures, and makes any politician that would freeze or lower big money. The Citizens United judgment
inequality more painful for the poor. taxes. In the face of fiscal starvation and enabled money power to cloak itself in
Baseball provides him with nostalgic ev- ideological hostility, public goods were the rhetoric of free speech and avail it-
idence of his theme. He recalls how in privatized, public employment was de- self of the protection of the First Amend-
his childhood in Minneapolis, the best unionized, and the market stepped in to ment. But money is not speech. Classical
seats to see the Minnesota Twins cost provide the services that public revenue republicans such as Rousseau always un-
$3.00 and the bleacher seats cost $1.50. could no longer support. But it provided derstood that money is power, plain and
Middle-class and working-class people these only to those who could afford simple, and must be kept under control
sat next to each other to watch Harmon them. This is the rough outline of a story lest it contaminate republican freedom.
Killebrew, the Twins star. At the peak that would explain why money bought What Money Cant Buy raises impor-
of his career Killebrew made $120,000 more and more in the two generations tant issues, in a pleasing, accessible, non-
a year. Now the corporate types sit by after 1960, why the common life made dogmatic style, but the omissionsof the
themselves up in the skyboxes, and even possible by public goods retreated, and way wealth has been moralized as virtue,
average baseball players sell their auto- why the monetization of life coincided and of the way money has been moral-
graphs to fans, and the star of the Minne- with rising inequality. ized as speechare consistent with a
sota team makes $23 million a year. At a Sandel laments the way that public failure to identify who is responsible for
time of rising inequality, Sandel writes, space has been re-decorated by advertis- what money has done to America in the
the marketization of everything means ing and every public building from foot- last fifty years. The book is altogether too
that people of affluence and people of ball stadiums to libraries bears the name affable. If you cannot identify who is re-
modest means lead increasingly sep- of a corporate donor. But he is missing sponsiblethe wealthy and their allies in

T N R J , 25
politicsyou havent got a politics. And the rich. He would have to make the genuine power of Christianity subsists
Sandel needs a politics. He is a political case that wealth is not an entitlement in the Catholic Church alone while al-
philosopher, so well-versed in the his- but an achievement dependent on pub- lowing for a truth that can also be found
tory of moral jeremiads about corrup- lic goodseducation, public safety, infra- outside its visible confines.
tion as to know that when jeremiads are structurefor which the wealthy should But among the most radical innova-
not connected to a realistic politics, they pay their fair share. tions of doctrine that sprang from Vat-
end, as they did with Rousseau, in empty A liberal theory of public goods, backed ican II was the Declaration on the
declamation. up by a morally persuasive rationale for Relation of the Church with Non-Chris-
Since Sandel wants to promote the progressive taxation, also needs a story tian Religions, typically known by its
common life and public virtues, he needs about generating growth through public Latin title Nostra Aetate, or In Our Age.
a serviceable theory of public goods, an and private investment in the skills and Included in the declaration was a forth-
account of what markets can safely pro- the capabilities of citizens. Without a the- right condemnation of anti-Semitism
vide and what items must be provided ory of growth, a politics of virtue runs into and a revised official teaching on the
by the public purse. A theory of public the objections that Adam Smith leveled Jews. The Church descried hatred, per-
goods is an account of how to regulate against Rousseau two hundred years ago. secutions, displays of anti-Semitism, di-
markets without killing freedom and Virtue without growth equals stagnation rected against Jews at any time and by
innovation. It is a story about creating and autarchy. All told, this looks like the anyone. While it allowed for the histori-
the right incentives to generate public minimum program for Sandels politics of cal claim that a portion of the Jews in the
amenities. If, to take a humble example, virtue, but none of it is remotely practi- time of Christ had called for his death, it
private developers are going to make a cal as long as there are no effective limits warned that the crucifixion could not be
fortune building new condos, city bylaws on money in politics. As long as money is blamed on all Jews without distinction
can oblige them to provide public parks moralized as speech, and not understood and across all time. No longer accursed
on some of the land. If governments li- as power, there is little chance that the re- by God, and absolved of any collective
cense bandwidth or channel frequencies, public can put money in its proper place. responsibility for the death of Christ, the
they can require the carriers to serve re- Without a politicsof redistributive Jewish people were now embraced as
mote communities; they can even require taxation, public goods investment for the stock of Abraham (stirps Abrahae).
them to carry free political advertising growth, and rules controlling money in Most astonishing of all, the Church also
during campaign periods, which democ- politicsany critique of what money has affirmed that God holds the Jews most
ratize speech and bring down the cost done to American life is just moralizing. dear for the sake of their Fathers and
of politics. Any project to promote the We did not drift into this new world of that He does not repent of the gifts He
common life has to have a politics and money or arrive here by accident. Pow- makesa phrase that seems to allow for
an economics of public goods. This is no- erful interests have carried us here, and the continued validity of Judaism along-
where to be found in Sandels work. it is up to the people acting together to side Christianity.
Sandel denounces inequality, but in take their republic back. A society is not To understand how this transforma-
order to do something about it, he needs a market. It is a political community. Re- tion came about, an inquiry into pure
a politically persuasive rationale for pro- storing the virtue of its citizens demands theology is necessary but not sufficient.
gressive taxation on upper incomes and a politics equal to the challenge of vir- The story is too thick with ironies and
the elimination of tax breaks that favor tues enemies. 1 politics, and it demands a patient and
open-minded reconstruction of ideolog-
ical quarrels that embroiled the Roman
Catholic Church during its darkest and
Peter Gordon most shameful years of compromise.

THE BORDER CROSSERS This is a task undertaken with admirable


equipoise by John Connelly, a historian of
Central and East-Central European his-
tory, in his remarkable new book. It is not
FROM ENEMY TO BROTHER: Catholic theologians that brought this a pleasant tale. Connelly resists the temp-
THE REVOLUTION IN CATHOLIC teaching gently to an end. The debate was tation of Whiggish self-congratulation
TEACHING ON THE JEWS, 19331965 not without controversy, and it is even that would make Vatican II appear as a
By John Connelly today not universally accepted. foreordained conclusion, driven forward
(Harvard University Press, 376 pp., $35) Vatican II, the conciliar commission by nothing else than the Churchs soul-

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that opened under John XXIII in 1962 searching and the its turn to the higher
violent years of and concluded under Pope Paul VI in light of its own universalist ideals.
the twentieth century, the 1965, is rightly seen as a watershed in The truth is that Church did not reform
Roman Catholic Church un- the history of modern religion. Some itself without struggle. Even today many
derwent a trial of conscience praise its spirit of worldly accommoda- Church officials still lapse into modes
that ultimately brought about tion. Others condemn it as a demystifica- of Christian triumphalism and implicit
a radical transformation in its official doc- tion of the mysterious and an abdication anti-Judaism that were supposed to have
trine regarding the Jews. Church tradition of ecclesiastical authority. It relaxed been corrected decades ago. Indeed, it
had long held that the Jewish people were the Latin-only stricture on the Catholic is one of the central lessons of Connel-
abandoned by God and condemned to Mass and allowed for much of it to be lys book that the bonds of empathy that
wander the earth, their religion nullified conducted in the vernacular, permitting made Nostra Aetate a historical possibil-
by the new covenant with Christ. But the the laity a more immediate access to the
Second Vatican Council marked the cul- highest ritual of the Church. It permitted Peter Gordon is Amabel B. James Professor
mination of a protracted debate among the even more controversial idea that the of History at Harvard University.

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