Death of the Great Man, a novel by Peter D Kramer, Post Hill Press, 2023
Thanks for your incisive writing, Josh!
I don't think consolidation is a "feature" of capitalism; I think it's a bug in our system of government, if by consolidation I believe you mean regulatory capture? THAT is definitely a bug, and we need to figure out a way to turn that around somehow - it's the source of the incredible amount of corruption in our system. It's how capitalism becomes fascism - government working hand in hand with industry, as opposed to being a check against the predatory tendencies of industry. Think "corporate personhood".
I liked the review and will hopefully read the book to which it refers - I have a stack of books waiting to be read, but who has the time??
I agreed with pretty much all of your analyses of real-world politics vs. the book's fading tropes, but this one caught my eye:
"In the real world, global capitalism has reached a terminal metastasis from which there is no return."
I'm not going binary here, like "you think communism will work better?" - that's a sucker's argument. I just don't think capitalism is in itself the affliction of the world. I think capitalism is a great way to conduct business, and has resulted in a lot of innovation and incredible progress worldwide.
Our problems lie in "crony capitalism", organized crime and corruption, which aren't based in a particular political or economic ideology. Yes, there are lots of opportunities in capitalism for corrupt people to take advantage, but the Soviet Union and China didn't exactly escape the tentacles of corruption. Again, not being binary - these are just very large examples. Every system is vulnerable to corruption; the larger systems are more susceptible, or perhaps due to scale, the corruption is just more visible.
I'm not here to prescribe a solution to the world's woes. The solution, if there is one, is to be found at a personal level. We see examples every day of corruption at the highest levels of societal organization, and we each make a choice every moment (if you believe in free will, that is) whether or not we will emulate these "leaders" and descend into corruption ourselves. Far too many people are selling their souls for such a low price these days.
I tend to blame mainstream media and their pandering to the lowest common denominator for the resultant idiocracy that engenders, but everything is so interwoven, it's hard to nail it down to one particular aspect of existence. And as sophomoric as it sounds, choices result in actions, actions result in consequences. The consequences of modern life arose from choices made ten minutes or ten years ago. So "terminal metastasis" might be reversible, if enough of the people make different choices.
Sorry for the rant...