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Festival of Ideas

Does Capitalism Have a Future? Paul Collier

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Economist Paul Collier believes we have lost the sense of ethical obligation to others that was crucial to the rise of post-war social democracy.

Capitalism is in crisis and many question if it can survive. It’s faced problems before, but the crisis has intensified since the crash. Economic growth is sluggish and the benefits of capitalism are not shared widely. Deep new rifts are tearing apart the fabric of Britain and other Western societies: thriving cities versus the provinces, the highly-skilled elite versus the less educated, wealthy versus developing countries.

So far these rifts have been answered only by the revivalist ideologies of populism and socialism, leading to the seismic upheavals of Trump, Brexit and the return of the far right in Germany.

Collier outlines ways to heal these economic, social and cultural rifts. Based on personal experience of having lived across these three divides – moving from working-class Sheffield to hyper-competitive Oxford, and working between Britain and Africa – he shows us how to save capitalism from itself – and free ourselves from the intellectual baggage of the 20th century.

This event was part of our annual Coleridge Series, inspired by Coleridge’s wide-ranging and radical lectures in Bristol in the 1790s.
Photo credit: John Cairns

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