In Western societies, the capitalist system is facing a level of distrust not seen in decades. Economic inequality is rampant. Life expectancy is falling. The environment is being destroyed for profit. Political power is wielded by wealthy elites and big business. For capitalism’s critics, it is clear that the system is not designed to help average people. Their solution is a top-to-bottom reform of the “free market” along more socialist and democratic lines. For proponents of capitalism, however, this system has been the greatest engine of economic and social progress in history. Not only has capitalism made all of us materially better off, its ideals are responsible for everything from women’s rights to a cleaner environment to political freedoms. The answer to society’s current ills is more capitalism, more economic freedom, and more free markets.
The twenty-fifth semi-annual Munk Debate, held on December 4, 2019, pits editorial director and publisher of the Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel and former finance minister of Greece Yanis Varoufakis against Harvard professor Arthur C. Brooks and New York Times columnist David Brooks to debate whether the capitalist system is broken.