History for the Future

Through interviews with historians and journalists, History for the Future explores the historical roots of contemporary social issues and policies, often revealing the hidden assumptions and political choices defining the present.

| Corporations, Politics
Benjamin Waterhouse's new book, “Lobbying America: The Politics of Business from Nixon to NAFTA,” follows the role that business associations — particularly the Business Roundtable, the US Chamber of Commerce, and the National Association of Manufacturers — played in the conservative drift in American politics since the early 1970s. In this History for the Future interview, Waterhouse discusses how business changed the tenor of political discourse (and fought off Ralph Nader and “consumerists”). He also rejects the notion that the U.S. doesn’t have an “industrial policy” — it’s just an industrial policy that has favored large firms through policies like NAFTA.More
| Unions
Jake Rosenfeld's "What Unions No Longer Do" brings us face to face with the enormous consequences of the long-term decline of the labor movement. While it's an account that is quite pessimistic, Rosenfeld does see some hope in recent developments.More
| Role of government, Urban Policy
A discussion with Mason Williams on Fiorello La Guardia’s critical role in implementing the New Deal in the New York City context, his vision of the role of government, and what the city’s current mayor could learn from the predecessor he most admires.More
| Urban Policy
Any real estate agent will tell you that "neighborhood matters." Robert Sampson explains just how much, including how neighborhoods differ on measures of trust, "collective efficacy," and altruism.More
| Environment, Population
Are climate change politics still stuck in the rut created by a famous 1970s bet about the consequences of ever-increasing population growth and resource use? Is "quality of life" a better focus than "survivability"? Paul Sabin, author of "The Bet: Paul Ehrlich, Julian Simon and Our Gamble Over Earth's Future," discusses these and other questions raised by his book.More
| Economy, History, Markets
That's what Julia Ott, assistant professor in the history of capitalism at The New School, says. In a wide ranging discussion, she describes the not-at-all inevitable path to a broad-based securities market in the United States of the early 20th century. She comments on the tendency of financial reporting to ignore the fact that the development of the market in the U.S. has reflected and continues to reflect the deliberate selection of specific political choices. She also discusses the impact of economic crises in changing (or not changing) the understanding of, and attitudes towards, markets.More