The future of capitalism is the title given to this book transcription of the 25th Munk Debate held in Toronto two years ago. It’s a provocative title but a little misleading in that the four eminent thinkers who participated in it were much more focused on capitalism as it is practiced in the present.
Mentions were made of Canadian, Scandinavian, European and Chinese capitalism during the 90-minute debate, but it was clear that it was American capitalism, which everyone found increasingly insufficient.
The stake was the following resolution: The capitalist system is broken. It’s time to try something different.
Debaters on the pro side were author Katrina Vanden Heuvel, editor of the Nation review and Washington post columnist, and Yanis Varourfakis, economist, scholar, author and former Greek Minister of Finance.
Opponents were Arthur Brooks, professor of economics at Harvard, author and Washington post columnist, and David Brooks, professor of economics at Yale, author and New York Times journalist.
There is no place here to debate the debate.
But in broad strokes Varourfakis and Vanden Heuvel argued that the idea of liberal democratic capitalism is a fantasy that has been overshadowed by a “predator and extractor”? idea that destroys the planet while concentrating wealth and power in the hands of a smaller and smaller number of super rich oligarchs. In modern America, the big get together to cut the cake while the little ones fiercely fight over the leftover crumbs. Socialism for the rich, they say, and capitalism for the poor.
Brooks and Brooks (no relationship) got into a fight over the devil we know ?? capitalism has lifted billions of humans out of poverty since World War II while building welfare states that educate and care for many more people. The future,?? so to speak, capitalism is more than capitalism. The planet, on the other hand, is saved by the capitalists while the socialist and communist alternatives are run by “thugs”. in China and Russia are “environmental disasters”.
There is a lot of truth in both positions, which might explain why, after the debate was over, only 2% of the 3,000 people present had changed their minds. After the debate, a slim majority of 55 percent sided with Brooks and Brooks, up from 53 percent at the start.
There have been a few moments of well-being for the Canadian public. David Brooks reminded them that he was born and raised in Canada while Vanden Heuvel, no doubt, made faces smile when she said; ?? If you wanted to achieve what used to be or is called the American Dream, I repeat, you should come to Canada. ??
Gerald Flood is a former commentator for the Winnipeg Free Press.