After decades of shaping global and national economic policies according to the dictates of neoliberal ideology, public sectors are starved, climate change is accelerating, inequality is on the rise, and democracies are confronting near-unprecedented crises. The only way forward is to leave behind the defunct economic nostrums of the past.
ROME – The world is facing a multitude of challenges, from climate change and inequality to the crisis of confidence in our political and economic institutions. The capitalist system itself is undergoing yet another existential crisis, and many countries are facing various trials of their own. The United States is in the grips of an opioid crisis, a childhood diabetes crisis, and a political crisis. China, already struggling to maintain growth in the context of a broader trade and technology war with US President Donald Trump’s administration, is beset by a coronavirus epidemic that threatens to become a pandemic. Argentina is confronting another debt crisis, and mass demonstrations are roiling countries worldwide.
Looming in the background is a deeper ethical crisis that is evident pretty much everywhere. Business leaders, myopically focused on the bottom line, have displayed remarkable moral turpitude. The financial sector has been marked by predatory lending, market manipulation, and abusive consumer-credit practices. Automakers have been caught gaming environmental regulations. The food and beverage industry is knowingly contributing to childhood obesity around the world. Pharmaceutical companies are pushing addictive drugs even as they claim otherwise (while eschewing research into desperately needed new antibiotics).
Or consider Facebook, one of the world’s largest communication and media companies. Last year, the company’s leaders made no apologies for knowingly permitting targeted disinformation campaigns and acts of political subterfuge on their platform, regardless of the consequences for democracy. The company now epitomizes the dangers of a privately controlled monopolistic surveillance economy.