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The New Resilience Paradigm

With neoliberalism in decline, some are touting "productivism" as an alternative approach that emphasizes jobs and localism. But while productivism can help solve challenges like fragile supply chains, it is only part of a deeper and wider shift toward a new paradigm that prioritizes resilience over efficiency.

CANBERRA – When the world changes, policy paradigms change, too – or at least they should. Harvard economist Dani Rodrik recently argued that, instead of globalism, financialization, and consumption – the principles undergirding the declining neoliberal paradigm that has dominated global economic policymaking for the past 40 years – a framework that emphasizes production, jobs, and localism is needed. Rodrik calls this nascent paradigm “productivism.”

At a time when political polarization is increasing throughout the developed world, the core features of the productivist paradigm have found support on both the right and the left. But there is more to this paradigm shift than Rodrik’s narrative allows. Productivism is only one part of a broader, more profound transition away from neoliberalism’s preoccupation with efficiency toward a new paradigm that puts systemic resilience first.

To understand why a particular paradigm becomes ascendant, we need to identify the policy problems it must address. Neoliberalism’s assumptions regarding the ability of individuals and communities to adjust to trade shocks proved to be wildly unrealistic; the doctrine’s exponents were oblivious to its unintended consequences.

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