Doha Debates: Capitalism

Doha Debates: Capitalism


– [Announcer] Dear World we need to talk. Welcome to Qatar. And welcome to Doha Debates. Where we are searching for
solutions to global challenges. (intense music) (crowds protesting) – We have to rethink the wild
beast that is capitalism. (techno music) – All you can talk about is the money, and the fairytales of
eternal economic growth. – The point is not about growth. The fact is that how do we
redistribute that growth? – There are still too many
people who are left out of that recovery and
acceleration of growth. – It’s about power, that’s concentrated in the hands of the
wealthy and well-connected, power that is used to benefit the rich and kick dirt in the
face of everyone else. – It’s been almost 250 years since “The Wealth of Nations” was published. Free markets and capitalism
would lift the poor, and increase prosperity for all. But today is economic growth
advancing opportunities for everyone, or is it
creating more social and economic injustice,
and destroying our planet? Was Karl Marx right when he predicted that the capitalist system will eventually collapse
and destroy itself? That is our debate here in Doha. – [Announcer] Please welcome your Doha debates moderator, Ghida Fakhry! (audience applauding) – Hello everyone, a very warm welcome to the fifth in our series
of new Doha debates. Today, as we just said, we’ll
be taking on the challenge of capitalism as a
sustainable economic model. Can humanity prosper without growth, or must we pursue growth and suffer the consequences, the side effects, in the interest of improving
the lives of millions, even billions of people around the world? Some say a free market economy means the poor become less poor. Others believe that growth is
actually widening inequalities and destroying our environment. A third camp argues that transformation of that system is possible. More regulations, greater inclusivity, and a less hypocritical version
of capitalism is in order. Well today we’ll be
hearing from three experts, each with a very different
idea for a solution, and a distinct approach to a
subject that is hotly contested in protest and civil
unrest across the world. Then we’ll be heading into our majlis, where we’ll try to build
some consensus if we can, across our differences. We are live from Northwestern
University here in Doha Qatar, and we’re also live streaming on Facebook, NowThis, YouTube and Twitter. We of course want you to join
the conversation as well. So let’s go straight to
our correspondent Nelufar, tell us everything we need to know. – Thank you Ghida, yes! As ever I welcome you, those
of you who are watching online, we have a lot of debate to get through. Our speakers are ready, Ghida is ready and our student audience is ready, but I’m always keen to hear from you wherever you are in the world. If you’re watching this, get in touch. If you feel passionately about
what is being said onstage and you have your comments or questions, just use that hashtag, Dear World, or make sure you tag us in your posts at Doha Debates, I
nearly forgot that then, and we will be able to find your tweets, and Ghida I’ll be able
to present them to you so you can engage with them as well. – And I look forward to that Nel, but before we begin,
let’s take a quick look and see what we actually
mean, by capitalism. – Capitalism, is essentially
the only economic system around in the world today and, it’s at a bit of a crossroads. The main thing that sets
a capitalist system apart from previous systems, is the
reinvestment of money made from selling things back into production. This is called growth, and it is the main economic
goal of capitalism. On average, people have an easier life than a few centuries ago. From an era of peasant farmers,
capitalism brought us here, where a tiny robot vacuums
your floor every day. It’s improved the lives
of tens of millions, hugely reducing poverty,
illiteracy, and infant mortality. But it’s not working for everyone, and the gap between the rich
and the poor is widening. One way to address the problem, would be to adopt a kinder capitalism built with stronger safety
nets that can help look after the disadvantaged, and the vulnerable. Another option is for capitalism to evolve into something else, like socialism. Of course, a viable option is to continue on the path that we’re currently on. To prioritize growth,
over everything else. What capitalism evolves
into will affect nearly every human being on the planet. The good news, is that we can choose how society is structured. But we need to decide carefully, and soon. – So then, do we continue
with business as usual, or do we rethink, fundamentally,
what capitalism means, which is obviously something
different to different people. So what are then, the arguments
for and against capitalism? Well joining us here today, it’s a pleasure to have
three experts on the topic. Jason Hickel, Ameenahh
Gurib-Fakim, and Anand Giriharadas. (audience applauding) And as always, we also
have with us, joining us in the audience, Dr. Govinda
Clayton, our connector. – [Announcer] Dr. Govinda Clayton is a senior researcher in Peace Processes within the Center for Security
Studies at ETH Zurich. Dr. Clayton’s research
interests include negotiation, mediation, conflict
management and civil war. As our connector, Dr.
Clayton will provide guidance on identifying common ground, and steering towards bridge-building and consensus. (audience applauding) – [Ghida] So then, that is everyone. Time now to hear from our first speaker. – [Announcer] Our first
speaker, Jason Hickel, is an anthropologist and
author whose most recent book is “The Divide: A Brief Guide “to Global Inequality and its Solutions”. Originally from Swaziland, Jason focuses on global inequality and
ecological economics. (audience applauding) – Growth is killing us. It is the single greatest
driver of climate breakdown and ecological collapse. We urgently need to
shift to a post-growth, post-capitalist economy. Right now we’re trapped
in an economic system that is structurally dependent on growth. Growth at an exponential
rate, year after year, with no identifiable endpoints. Capitalism requires ever-increasing
levels of extraction, and production and consumption,
just to stay afloat, to and through our living
planet, in the process. And virtually all of this crisis is being driven by rich countries. The science is clear. If we want to avoid
catastrophic climate breakdown, and reverse ecological degradation, rich countries need to lead with radical emissions reductions,
getting to zero by 2030, while dramatically
scaling down resource use. And to achieve this, we need to abandon our mindless march towards growth. Now my colleagues here,
might say we needn’t worry. All we need to do is make growth green, switch to renewable energy, and
we can keep growing forever. But scientists firmly reject this idea. Yes, we need a green new deal, with massive public investments and a clean energy transition, but we cannot transition quickly enough to stay within the carbon budget if we keep growing the
economy at existing rates. More growth means more energy demands. And more energy demands, makes
it impossible to decarbonize in the short time we have left. The only way to make it
work, is by actively reducing our energy use and scaling
down industrial production. This will make it easier to accomplish a rapid transition to renewables,
halting climate breakdown, while allowing our planet’s
ecosystems to regenerate. So what does this look like? Well, we could legislate for longer product lifespans
and rights to repair. If our goods last twice as
long, we will use half as many without any loss to our quality of life. We can free our public
spaces from advertising, liberating all of us from the pressure to consume stuff we don’t
need or even really want. We can choose to scale down the production of destructive products like McMansions, SUVs, ARMS and beef. Reducing unnecessary
production means freeing people from the drudgery of needless labor. And by shortening the working week and rolling out a job
guarantee with living wages, we can ensure that everyone has access to meaningful work and dignified lives. Some say we need economic growth
to achieve social progress. But that is a lie. The vast majority of income
from growth gets captured at the very top, while most
people see very little benefits. Once we wake up to this madness,
the solution becomes clear. We already live in an abundant economy. We don’t need more growth. We can achieve progress right now, without any growth at
all, simply by sharing what we already have more fairly. Justice, is the antidote to growth. So we can maintain our mindless devotion to the dusty dogmas of the status quo, sacrificing our future and our planet on the altar of capital, or
we can throw off the shackles of this irrational system and
build a better, more just, more ecological economy
for the 21st century. We have a choice before us. Growth, or life. Thank you. (audience applauding) – [Announcer] Our second
speaker, Ameenahh Gurib-Fakim, is a biodiversity scientist who served as the sixth president of
Mauritius from 2015 to 2018. Ameenahh was the first woman to be head of state in her native country. (audience applauding) – Capitalism is the
world’s pre-eminent system of economic organization, yet, in the court of public opinion
capitalism is on the ropes. You’ve heard my fellow guest talk about the flip-side of capitalism, with its effect on whole
economies and people. Let me try and paint a different picture. Growth matters. So does equality. Without growth, there can be
no sustainable development. As the former president of a country, I have seen the positive transformation linked to economic growth. My island nation country
has been transformed since independence, 51 years ago. It is now an upper middle income country, and we have done this by
prioritizing economic pillars with people-centered investments. Economic growth fuels the
economy, and improves livelihoods. Is it perfect? Hardly. Are there still problems? Unequivocally yes. We have to confront issues
like chronic poverty, diseases, and now struggle against the vagaries and hardship caused by changing climate. We know that economic
growth, shared prosperity, and more open economy help us tackle them. So, in direct opposition to protectionism, and isolationism that is coming
out of the United States, Africa has gone the other
way, and has created the world’s largest free-trade
area since the establishment of the World Trade Organization in 1995. It came into operation in May, 2019. I can safely say that
Africa is on the move. When I say on the move, I
mean with economic growth, the contested subject of tonight’s debate. In recent years, Africa’s
average annual GDP growth has consistently outpaced
the global average, and is expected to remain
at least 6% until 2023. Six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies are in Africa. By 2035, Africa, the youngest continent, will be the source of a global labor force with implied potential
for growth and savings, thus impacting poverty reduction. By 2050, the richest 10% of Africans, that is 250 million people will drive a nearly five-fold expansion and demand for consumer goods and services. This is why broad-based, inclusive economic growth is vital. Fortunately, Africa’s
governments are developing the required infrastructure,
and institutions, even as political leaders
are implementing reforms aimed at improving the business climate. And reforms are happening,
with five of the 10 most improved countries in Africa, and most of all recorded reforms occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa. And I would argue further that growth also ensures innovative reforms. There is no doubt, that
we prosper with growth. Inclusive growth has, and will remain key to leaving no one behind, and
build a prosperous future, for the benefit of all. Thank you. (audience applauding) – [Announcer] Our third
speaker, Anand Giridharadas, is an editor-at-large at Time Magazine, a political analyst at MSNBC, and the author of the bestselling book, “Winners Take All: The Elite
Charade of Changing the World”. (audience applauding) – If you ask me, what I think about capitalism, I would say maybe it’s
something we should try. Because free-market capitalism, we’re talking about tonight,
is not what we actually have in its supposed epicenter,
America, where I live, and about which I write
in “Winners Take All”, a model America is exporting to the world. What we have come to know as capitalism, isn’t really capitalism. If capitalism is defined
by a rugged confidence in one’s chances in the marketplace, in the souk of information,
or ball-bearings or coffee, what I see around me is something defined instead by slouching insecurity. The most lionized capitalists of our time are a group of mostly men,
profoundly insecure men, terrified by the prospect of competing in a genuinely free and fair market. The bankers who plunged the
world economy into the abyss weren’t confident about
their chances in the market, which is why they rigged
regulations and tax codes to give them undue
advantages and immunities. The oil companies that
have given our planet a terminal diagnosis, aren’t confident about their chances in the market, without rigging policy and
using bribery and violence, and spreading fraudulent pseudo-science. Many of them would be extinct. The monopolists and would be
monopolists of Silicon Valley aren’t confident of their
chances in the market, otherwise they wouldn’t
donate to politicians and spread a phony image
of themselves as saviors to avoid regulation and being broken up. A capitalist self-image of swagger, masks a capitalist reality of self-doubt. Self-doubt that then motivates
our so-called capitalists to commandeer power, to
protect their mediocrity. What I see all around me is not capitalism in any meaningful sense
of the word, but capture. Capture looks like 26 billionaires
now owning as much wealth as the bottom half of
humanity, 3.8 billion people. Capture, looks like the
global top 1% monopolizing 82% of new income in a recent year. Capitalism looks like the
few hoarding progress itself. And how does this capture persist? By dressing itself nowadays in
the costume of enlightenment. Woke Capitalism is everywhere around us. Billionaire philanthropy,
impact investing, Give One, Get One products,
social enterprises, basically everything
Bono is involved with. But Woke Capitalism is all
too often a smokescreen for a manic hyper-capitalism
that is destroying opportunity and jeopardizing the earth. But capitalism or not capitalism? Milton Friedman or Karl
Marx, is not the real debate. There’s always gonna be business and there’s always gonna be government, and the question is the relationship. The debate is what kind of capitalism, and what kind of counter-pressures
can keep business honest, and keep it in its proper place. Thank you. (audience applauding) – All right, so we now had the opportunity to hear from all three
speakers with me here onstage. Very different perspectives, perhaps I could quickly summarize the essence of what each
position represents. In the case of Jason,
very clearly, he says that “Growth is killing us,
we need to stop growth”. He believes “The answer
lies in a radical departure “from capitalism” which he believes, “has failed to deliver on the problemss”. Ameenah on the other hand, believes that “Growth is actually
vital, we must embrace it. “Yes, there are problems with capitalism, “but it’s the best option out there”. And Anand, finally
somewhere in the middle, dare I say, “Growth isn’t the problem, “we need to redistribute the wealth”. So Anand, not suggesting that
we do away with capitalism, but not suggesting a tight embrace either. So let’s now hear what you think about these three very
different positions. – [Announcer] It’s time to vote. We need your input to find
common ground among the speakers. We wanna know exactly
how much value you attach to the arguments you’ve heard. You have a total of 100 points to divide. You can divide them over
1, 2, or all 3 statements. To do so, simply assign points to the statements on a sliding scale. – All right, so as everyone is
onto their phone voting away, Nel, let’s go to you
quickly, and give us a sense of what the reactions out
there online look like. – They are very opinionated
online I think you’ll find, much like I’m sure, these guys have got their
heads down voting right now, but thank you for getting in touch. As always, just make sure
you hashtag Dear World, so I can easily find your
comments and suggestions. Just two to read out right
now, we’ve got someone from South Africa watching. It’s Rhoda, and Rhoda
says, “Doha Debates a lot. “It’s never enough” as in
growth is never enough. “The forever rising cost of living, “the lack of education
and how to manage it, “the social pressures that “we subscribe to also contribute “to depression and over-indebtedness. “We need more financial
education” she says, and I’d very quickly like to
shout out to the 8th graders who have missed the field
trip and stayed behind to watch the Doha debates,
right now they’re watching, thank you guys for tuning in, 8th graders! Wow, I would sure want to want to know what you guys think about this debate. Make sure that you guys
comment as much as you can. And just very quickly, there
seems to be a consensus forming online, about
the fact that capitalism is in a moment of change,
that things are changing. One thing they’re not sure about, is exactly which one of our solutions is the best way forward. Ghida. – Definitely a lot of fluctuation, a lot of movement around this issue, and we’re seeing it on the
streets with the protests that we’re witnessing in
so many different places, in this region certainly as well. Nel, I’m told that the votes are now in. So let’s go to them,
and see what we’ve got. I think we’ve got them, on the screen, here we go. So, well I can see that
there’s a clear favorite, and that was the third position. That was Anand’s position. Growth isn’t the problem. – If it was legal I would
buy you all a drink. – All right. (light laughing) A different kind of drink maybe. But anyway, growth isn’t the problem, redistribute the wealth. So that’s something that’s
obviously resonated a lot with the audience here, and
with people voting online as well with 54% of the vote Anand, whereas the other two perspectives
gathered way fewer votes, and we’ll see whether
that can actually shift when we begin to delve
deeper into your arguments. Let’s see how much you can actually sway the audience one way or the other. And that is what happens when we get into our our next phase of the debate. – [Announcer] Welcome to the majlis. A traditional Arab
consensus-building practice. The focus of the majlis is to welcome critical
conversations and reach solutions. Here I wanna encourage our speakers to bridge differences
and find common ground. – So let’s see if we
can find common ground on such a hot topic as this one. Ameenah you ran a country,
an entire country, an island nation, Mauritius,
of about 1.2 million people. If you’d known Jason before today, would you have hired him
as your economic advisor? – I’d say yes–
– Or would you have fired him the next day? (pleasant laughing) – Jason’s view, they are
relevant to some extent, but when you’re running a country, and the way my country has
been run since independence, I would go with what Anand has said, because this is exactly
what we have practiced. You know, when Mauritius
got independent in 1968, the per capita income
was 200 U.S. dollars, and 51 years later
we’re just under 10,000. How did we manage to do this, has been through a series
of very strong decision that had been taken, but more importantly, we have learned upfront, to
distribute the wealth, right? We have given free education, we have given free health care, we have invested in the
social welfare as well, and started with important decision like family planning, upfront. And right now as I speak,
nearly 30% of our GDP is invested into these major pillars. And so I totally agree with you when you said that there
is redistribute the wealth, but we are now at a crossroad of how to increase growth precisely, so that the youth do not get left behind, inasmuch as we need now
to create new pillars, through growth, to actually
absorb unemployment. – So I gather it’s fair to say that you wouldn’t of let Jason run the treasury department
under your administration. But Jason let’s presume
for argument’s sake, that you did get the job and that you in fact lasted in the job for a few days. What would you have done differently? How compelling a case could
you make against the statistics that Ameenah presented
in the case of Africa? Capitalism has on the whole been good. – I’m very glad you
asked, because actually I would probably agree
with Ameenah on this, because my argument here is not that poor countries should abandon growth, but rather the rich
countries should, right? And this is actually
a question I would put directly to Anand as well. So yes we need to reform
capitalism in America, but do you think that the
U.S., with its existing extremely high levels of
resource and energy use, should continue growing
resource and energy use? That becomes a key question
we have to address. And so, as far as poor countries go, they should absolutely pursue growth to generate the resources
necessary to invest heavily in health care and education, right? But growth should not be the objective in and of itself, in perpetuity. – But how can you do that if you’re suggesting that we stop growth? I mean how can you grow the economy? How could you grow the health sector? – Well I’m not suggesting–
– The health sector– – That poor countries–
– The education it’s on. – I think poor countries
should continue growing. Of course the objective
should not be growth itself but should be to grow certain
sectors of the economy that need to grow for social benefit. But for rich countries,
this is my question here, rich countries of extraordinarily high, deeply ecologically catastrophic levels of resource consumption,
and these are the countries that need to scale their
impact on our planet to create space for
other humans to thrive. Because that’s not happening
right now and it needs to. – [Ghida] Anand, do you
think that Jason lives in a utopian world, in a fantasy world? Can we stop economic growth
if we even wanted it? – I think when we have an all or nothing
conversation about capitalism, we are playing into the hands of extreme capitalists. This is a rhetoric that
comes from Wall Street. You either leave us alone, to practice manic hyper-capitalism, in which every 10 or so years we will tank the world economy, sorry, either you leave us alone to do that, to run that kind of casino economics, or, you get you light rail,
and your light rail, and your government programs are gonna lead you directly to the gulags. That’s what they want
you to believe, right? That that’s how it starts. One day you make a
little light rail system, a little public investment,
you get into the light rail and you’re just in the death camps. It’s all or nothing. And the reality is, and I’ll speak as a reporter
who has done this work, I have been to many
different places in the world that practice all levels of capitalism. That practice variations. You have kind of state-managed
authoritarian capitalism in a place like this, or China. You have anarchic,
democratic, universal suffrage before affluence capitalism in India. You get a different set of outcomes. You have in Europe, Northern
and Southern Europe, very different models, and everybody gets different outcomes. We’ve gotten to a weird
place in the world, where we have a greater understanding of gender fluidity today,
than of capitalism fluidity. There is a whole set of
choices we could make about the kind of
capitalism we should have. And that’s the conversation
we should be having. Capitalism is like religion, it’s like any other social force. It needs to live nestled
among other forces that have a healthy counter-pressure. – But you just said–
– And right now it is eating all the other counter-forces–
– But you just said it, it’s a system of winner takes all, it’s a system of losers and winners. It breeds profit-seeking and greed, aren’t we all greedy animals? I mean, can you suggest that
we can have it both ways? Can you just apply a few
band aids to it and say, oh, hold on, we’ll just make a new, better version of capitalism. It’s still called capitalism isn’t it? – This is a fantasy
that has arisen, again, from the people who want to
practice extreme capitalism. The idea that human beings
are naturally greedy. I have actually met a lot
of human beings in my life, and they’re not one thing. Okay, they’re greedy, yeah, totally. They’re introverted, they’re extroverted, they’re cooperative,
they help other people. I have two children, I see
these various human tendencies everyday before 9:00 a.m. So, the whole point of having societies, of having rules, of having
laws, of having institutions, is you encourage people
to do a little more of this kind of behavior
and a little more of that. Greed, channeled in the right way, can make people start
interesting businesses. – But don’t you need–
– But you don’t– – A radical departure–
– Rule the world economy– – [Ghida] Don’t you
need a radical approach? I mean Jason is offering you a solution. Why not take it?
– I have lived in countries, where there was too little growth. I don’t know where he’s
gonna set the Jason line, and any country above that has
to go down to the Jason line, and any country below that has to go up. I think it depends on what kind of growth. If we were all eating vegetables
in America instead of beef, that would be a very different future. If we had all clean cars
instead of gasoline cars, that’s a very different future. I actually don’t accept the proposition, that the only kind of growth we can have is a kind of growth that would imperil the planet.
– All right, Anand clearly doesn’t buy your approach,
how do you sell it to him? – I think there’s some confused points in Anand’s argument here. The first is that it’s true there are lots of different types of capitalism, but all of these different types of capitalism have one thing in common, and that it that they
require perpetual growth. This is really the issue
we have to deal with. Now, I want to point you
to, not the Jason line, but rather the inter-governmental
panel on climate change. Now in their scenarios
for how we can achieve radical emissions reductions consistent with a carbon budget for 1.5 or 2 degrees, they point out that rich nations have to dramatically
reduce resource throughput, in order to reduce energies, so that we can achieve a rapid
transition to renewables. So, this includes the U.S.A. The question is, do you
think that the U.S.A., in your reformed version of capitalism, should keep growing resources, or not? – It could grow resource use
if it was using renewables. It depends on what the
shape of the economy is. This is what I’m saying. You know, all growth is not equal. – Well see, the problem is–
– And I will say, this is very important. I was a reporter in India for the New York Times for many years, and I saw what growth means to people. As Ameenah pointed out, and
I know you’re not saying developing countries need to stop, but I think we are using the idea that we are growing in a bad way, to attack the notion of growing at all. I was in the Netherlands last
week, and they are growing in a very different way
than the United States with vegan restaurants everywhere
and clean cars everywhere. I think it makes no sense to say that both of them are
equally on a bad path. – Let me ask you something–
– Those are very good– – To actually effect
change, you just heard it. Is it going to be poverty
reduction or carbon reduction? What would you choose? What would be your priority?
– You know, Anand has just made the point about
growth and renewables. Increasingly, especially we
look at renewable energy, it has been shown that growth is possible, by adopting alternative
ways of generating energy. Very often we are stuck with the idea that capitalism means using fossil fuel, using all these explorative
extraction techniques and all the rest of it,
but increasingly now many economic gurus are also showing that growth is possible
by using renewables. Now, you have made a
very good point about, growth impacting people’s life, and I think I’ve just given a case example of Mauritius having used growth. Now how do we ensure that growth is possible? You mentioned the United States growing, using infinite growth, very often, within the economic system, at least we’ve experienced
it in Mauritius, when growth is happening in the North, it tends to pull people up from the South. Now having said something very important in terms of human greed, I mean, this is again, I
think which is the bottom line of the problems arising with capitalism. And this is again, when we came to 2008. The crisis of 2008 has also shown that we need increasing new regulators, we need government to be there. Because they should be the abider of all the issues that we take on board– – [Ghida] But let’s face it,
that’s not going to happen, in today’s practical world–
– It should happen. – Can you take on the big tech companies, and the governments, and the big interests who actually benefit from this system? As you called them,
the Davos billionaires, the do-gooder entrepreneurs, are they going to reign in a system that they have benefited from? – We don’t need them to reign it in, we need to reign them in. And here’s how we do it.
(cheering and applauding) – [Ghida] That’s what I was
going to say, that’s right– – The winners of this age
of extreme capitalism won, because they did two things. Phase One, Phase Two. Phase One was basically
trickle-down economics. Phase One was attack
government, government is bad, denigrate it, full-on cultural war against the idea of government
that spread everywhere. People on the right believe that hard, people on the left believe that gently, like second-hand smoke. Then, you say taxes should be cut, regulations should be cut, lionized entrepreneurs,
the only good people. That’s Phase One. Phase One works for a little bit of time. It fools people for a certain, maybe you get a good decade
out of Phase One, right? Then a few things happen. Social problems start to multiply, ’cause you don’t have a cop on the beat, and rich people get a lot richer, and people start to get angry. So then you gotta do Phase Two, otherwise you’re gonna get overthrown. Phase Two, is the people
who are the winners from this situation,
arrive back on the stage, and they say, “You know, what a shame! “What a pity. “All these social problems,
government can’t fix it, “well here I am with my money. “I’ll work with Bono, we
will work something out”. And this is like putting arsonists in charge of the firefighting brigade. So there is a solution–
– But you call them hypocrites–
– And it’s called democracy, and we don’t need their consent, we need to actually build people-power, to reign in plutocrats.
– But you’ve called these people hypocrites–
– Yes. – The system–
– That’s right– – That is in place, that you
advocate keeping actually, will make sure that people achieve the same profits, that will maybe in the future make them the next plutocrats–
– Trickle-down effect– – [Ghida] I want to get to Jason as well– – Okay, trickle-down effect doesn’t work. I don’t think that it happens naturally, and this is why initially, the founding fathers of
the capitalist system, the Galbraith and all these people, they had put down the systems,
and we have deregulated, we have removed all the
checks and balances. And trickle-down effect will
not happen in economics, and we need to have government
regulators in place, precisely to reign in on
all these big entrepreneurs who are making it, and yet, what we’re seeing is
increased salary discrepancies between the have and have-nots. – [Ghida] So Jason, my turn to ask you if Ameenah now, lives in a fantasy world, and Anand, could you
really regulate capitalism? They both argued that in fact
all growths are not equal. What’s wrong with green growth? – Okay, so yes, here’s the thing. It’s actually impossible to disagree. Nobody would disagree
with what Anand is saying. I fully agree with it, I sense
that all of you do as well. We obviously need to regulate capitalism more effectively, more democratically, and make it fundamentally fair. What I’m trying to do is push both of them to address another additional point, which is the question
of ecological breakdown. And now this a crucial
scientific question, in the sense of we are presently in an era of extreme ecological overshoots. We’re drawing more from the
planet than we’re replacing, and the planet is degrading
rapidly as a result. And we see this not just in
the form of climate change, but also in mass species extinction, ocean acidification, soil
depletion, et cetera, et cetera. Now, even if we were somehow magically, and of course we have to
have renewable energy, even if we powered the existing economy, growth-based global economy,
with renewable energy, it would still be driving
those consequences. Because we’re still extracting
more than the earth can bear. And here’s the thing, if we
look at alternative methods of capitalism, like take Scandinavia, probably Anand likes
Scandinavia quite a lot, they seem quite sustainable,
but they consume, on a per capita basis,
about 30 plus material tons of stuff per person per year, which is four times over
the sustainable boundary. If everyone in the world
consumed at the same level, of material stuff that
people in Scandinavia do, we would need four planets
to make that feasible. So, the argument I wanna make here is that we can flourish in an economy that requires less resource
throughput and less energy. We know that’s possible, we have robust economic
models showing we can do it, there’s a scientific consensus around it, recently there was an open letter signed by 350 scientists across Europe, calling on the European Union, to adopt post-growth principles. So this is not an academic question. It’s really one that we have
to be posing politically. – (audience applauding) All right. I think it’s a perfect place now to actually head over to our
connector, Govinda Clayton, to see whether there is any
way of reaching consensus. I mean, can you see any
hope for Ameenah and Jason, of ever working together,
or are their differences way too fundamental, and where does the conversation leave Anand in all this? – I mean absolutely not, these guys are never gonna
get along, that’s quite clear. Being serious now, in
conflict resolution practice we talk about moving from
positions to interest. So moving about what we think we want, to the interests that underlie those. And what we saw in the presentations today and at point in the discussion, is people really clinging
on to their positions. In particular whether growth in and of itself is good or bad. But actually if we look at
these underlying interests, and I think some of the
points Jason just made and Anand previously made,
there’s lots of commonality between our different speakers. All of the speakers are talking about need to address
economic inequalities, both within and across countries. All of our speakers are
talking about the environmental catastrophe that must be
addressed in some way. So, if we can kind of shift the debate, from a discussion about
is growth good or bad, and instead explore what
are the different solutions that we could possibly have,
I think we’re gonna find more consensus across the speakers. – All right, let’s put that to the test. (audience applauding)
Thank you very much Govinda. So, Ameenah to you, Jason clearly thinks it’s a lie to suggest that
we need economic growth to achieve social progress. That’s pretty harsh, but
doesn’t he have a point though? He said that, “The growth at the top “is captured by the very few”. Is it 1%, I believe, and a little more depending on which region
of the world you look at? Anand also mentioned the fact that the world’s top 26 billionaires earn more than the bottom 3.8 billion
people in the world. That’s capitalism for you isn’t it? – Well as has been said, this
is one form of capitalism. I am of the opinion that
we still need growth and for a country like
mine with no resources, only the talent of our people, we have shown that we need
growth to advance the economy, but as we are in this 21st century, with a growing population,
with an aging population, with 25% of our youth who are
unemployed or underemployed, how do you empower them, and
how do you engage with them? And how do we actually
build a future for them? And this is something where
we have been advocating for example, the growth in
three different sectors. The white economy, the blue
economy, the green economy, but you’ll need growth to
fire up these three pillars. We have done very well
on the service sector with the white economy,
but how do we now engage with the blue economy, the green economy, without upsetting the balance of nature, because we know that the blue economy we still talk about the ocean, and we know the challenge that
we face with climate change. And the green economy, the renewables where growth is still possible, but how do we engage these young people in these sectors of the economy, and make this capitalistic
system grow and work for all? It’s possible and we are showing the way, many countries are doing it. You’re talking about–
– But is it really? I mean you look at the
United States Anand, you live in the United States. We see a wave of young people galvanized around candidates these days in politics, who are running on the platform that they want to reverse
economic inequality. We’ve all heard about
AOC’s green new deal. We also know about Bernie Sanders who is self-described as the–
– Yes– – Democratic socialist.
– Yes, yes. – I didn’t realize Bernie–
– Clearly young people– – Was gonna win the Qatar primary! – [Ghida] But clearly, (light laughing) he’s got followers here–
– It’s an improbable outcome. – [Ghida] No but clearly, is it right to suggest that young people are okay with the capitalist system that they have? – But I think, again
this is something that we have to re-look at capitalist
system and the growth, and what models have shown. In fat economies Nobel
prize winners have shown that when you have a distributive system, whereby the 80% can still
draw from the system the economy can share,
it is a winner for all, and there are so many
other models like this. – I think what we also need
to do in this conversation is step back and define growth, in a way that is not a
banker’s idea of growth, okay? Right now, the way the rules are set up, the way the scorecard
is setup in the game, the activities you get positive
credit for, GDP credit, because that’s the scorecard we’re using, are, like if you cut
down a tree and sell it, that’s good, you get points,
but if you use wind energy, like, you get the same
number of points if not less. If you extract oil from
the planet you get points. If you sell people medications
for anxiety, you get points. But if you create an economy that makes people less
anxious, you don’t get points. And there’s been really
interesting initiatives out of France and
elsewhere, to rethink GDP, so that we would actually
have a growth scorecard that reflects the noble aspirations of having people have more
calories when they need them, and have less anxiety, and
people would actually start to have a growth that
reflects human flourishing and not resource extraction.
– Are we placing– – I just don’t think resource extraction is the only plausible
definition of growth. – Are we placing too much on GDP? Bhutan back in the ’70s moved
away and rejected the notion of measuring progress
through a GDP, it moved to something called the GNH.
– Yes. – But is that a practical measure? That’s the Gross National Happiness. – Yes.
– Where you take into account so many different aspects of people lives. – Yeah, in fact there are a number of alternative measures we can use. There’s the genuine progress indicator, which starts with GDP and then subtracts social and ecological negatives. And so we could do that, and of course I emphasize that this is
an important first step towards moving towards
a post-growth economy. But we cannot be agnostic about, what I’m saying is the important dimension of growth that we have to look at, which is resource use and energies. Because that’s what matters
ecologically speaking. So yes, let’s shift to
an economy that focuses on what we actually want
to achieve, definitely. But if resource use continues
to grow in that economy in ecologically destructive
ways, then that’s a problem and we have to face up to that. So, whatever we measure,
I’m fine with that. But as long as we are bringing
our resource use and energies back down to within boundaries,
that is what a post-growth, post-capitalist economy looks like. – Right. (audience applauding) Let me bring in the audience, if you could please get
ready to ask your questions. We’ve got two microphones on either side of the auditorium but
before we get to you, but please do go ahead to the microphones and we can get started in a second. But just a very quick yes or
no question to each of you. Do you all agree, with Karl Marx’s fundamental
belief, that capitalism, inherently, had negative side effects, evil side effects, and that it ultimately is going to collapse onto itself? Are we beginning to see the end
of capitalism as we know it? Just a very quick yes or no. Anand.
– Yes, but I think we can save it from itself and
make a humane version of it. – Ameenah.
– We need to rethink of capitalism, because the tool that have been used to make it, these are not the same tool that we use to solve the problems associated with it. – [Ghida] Jason. – I think that capitalism
was useful in some respects in the 20th century, but it’s not suited for the 21st century and we need to evolve and innovate toward something better. – (audience applauding) All right. We’ve got a few people
ready to ask questions. Let’s go over to you. – I wanna ask, in a constant development in the world currently, in a
world of constant development, I wanna ask is infinite growth, or economical growth
possible in a finite world? Is it bound to stop at
a certain point in time? Thank you. – And who is this question to? Should we–
– I would suggest to the lady in the room–
– To Ameenah, a biodiversity scientist,
good question for you. Do you accept that any
form of growth on a planet with finite resources is a problem? – Well, first of all I’m not very happy with the term infinite
growth, we need growth. We need growth, our resources
are going to be limited, yes, we are living, we all agree
that is only planet A, there is no planet B,
but how do we now adapt the tools that we have to generate growth within the limited resources that we have? Because the resources are not infinite. How do we adapt, as I said just now, the tools that have generated capitalism? They are not the same tool that will solve the problems associated with capitalism. So we really need to re-look
at the way we are consuming, we need to re-look at the way we are using and visualizing the resources
and recycling the resources. So these are some of the
tools that we have to rethink, the concept we have to rethink, to generate growth within a system where the resources are
limited, this is not finite. And models, energy models for example, the food consumption model, we have so many other models that exist. The thinking is happening, it’s on the go, but we really need to
ensure that it is accessible and people buy into this idea. – [Ghida] All right,
on to another question. Please. – Thank you, I have two questions. Two specific to two people. For you Anand, just it’s a
question evaluating the role of foreign aid in a
country’s economic growth, and to you Madame Excellency, you talked about Africa being what it is now and moving forward
towards a greater growth, but my question to you is very specific. That, how can other
African countries develop, if countries with double taxation
agreements like Mauritius, act as tax havens for
multi-national corporations? (audience applauding) – All right, thank you.
– Thank you. – [Ghida] All right,
thanks for those questions. Let’s start with Anand. – First of all I’m disappointed you didn’t also call me Your Excellency but I’ll deal with that. (light laughing) Look, one of the things that I write about in “Winners Take All” is the
way in which billionaires, mostly in the West, mostly in America, use aid to various foreign
countries including in Africa, to whitewash their reputations. It’s kind of a drive-through
reputational laundromat to do this kind of thing, and the help to those
countries is often real. Sometimes it’s kind of fake and minimal, but sometimes it’s real. Those are real malaria
and that’s being bought, those are real medicines. But I think part of what that upholds, and what those countries
then become part of, is a laundering of the reputation of plutocracy itself, not just of those individuals, such that an economic system,
that on a global scale is punishing to those countries, that allows those rich people to hoard most of the resources, ends up hurting those
countries a lot more, than the genuinely good
things that come to them. And so I think it’s
important to think about the way in which poor
countries play this role, in trying to do right by their people but hurting their people
by upholding plutocracy. – [Ghida] Thanks Anand. Ameenah, the questions of tax– – Thank you.
– The taxation. – I wouldn’t say that we are a tax haven, I say we have a very pragmatic tax system. And a double taxation is
jointly agreed by governments. When they sign up, they
sign up to a whole series of agreements where we
have the double taxation agreement treaty that we have
so many African countries. Now our taxation system
is a win-win situation for countries which have signed up. And granted, there have been some issues but I think we are very keen to operate in a system that is transparent, and we have been in the good books of many of the major multi-lateral
organizations as well, so this is something that we find, it works for both countries
and we need to dig further and see where the lapses are,
and so that we can remedy. But so far, it has been a very
pragmatic way of operating. – A politician’s response no doubt. I would ask you, are you satisfied? But I do have to move on, are
you satisfied with the answer? – No. (audience laughing lightly) – I just wanna say, if it is true that Mauritius is not a tax haven I just gotta go make a
quick call to my banker. To change my bank account. – [Ghida] All right,
next go on to the next. – Hi, so my question is
to the panel as a whole. While we can discuss or even conclude that today’s most common
version of capitalism is more harmful to the
world than it is beneficial, given the fact that it is
a model most of the world has followed for such a long time, and that it is so deeply
entrenched in our countries and the minds of most people,
is shifting to an entirely different or even a
transformed model realistically possible at this point and time? How can we build the people-power to reign these big corporations
in, as Anand spoke of? – All right, shifting to another model, but what I suggest doing is taking a few questions at a
time, so that we can hear from the most of you as possible. Let’s have another question and then we’ll have you answer them all. – So the problem with capitalism is that it’s based on the principle that humans are selfish, and this somehow we think is our dominant value,
and our system rewards it. We have created incentives, social paths for example, that about 2% of the world are 25% of executives. So, the people in power
right now do not represent the values of most people,
and what most of us want. So then how can we create a system that distinguishes between
the types of growth, where we value positive
contributions to society, and how could we implement that, given that the people in power do not want this system in place
because they are benefiting from the current system right now? – All right. (audience
cheering and applauding) Ameenah, you must take this question now, and what would you say to
the activists in this room? This young girl and others like her, the Greta Thunbergs of this world who want something
different, who still believe that you are not thinking
outside the capitalist box. What do you say to them? – The lady has mentioned
something very, very interesting. The notion of self-interest. And I think if you look at
Adam Smith very famous quote, “Whether we owe our dinners
to the brewers, to the bakers “and to the butchers, we
don’t owe him anything “because he’s operating
out of self-interest.” And, but this is again
something that many models exist where the business, the
industrialists themselves, they don’t adhere to the
fact that human beings are just naturally self-centered, right? And there are models
where the industrialists themselves say, “We trust our
people, we believe in them, “and we’re going to empower them, “and we’re going to ensure that the system “the environment, the
work is good”, right? So, by trusting them, by
giving them the opportunities, you can bring the best out of people. So this model of exploitation as we have already associated capitalism with, may not be true in these circumstances. How many more, how do we get such models? But having said this, in terms of those who actually exploit the system, this is again where we need government. We need regulation, and we need
to actually implement these, and they don’t become kind
of hijack by the system. So we need to ensure that we
get value for money out of this so that they can be redistributed. – All right, let’s get two
more questions if we can. If there’s any question
for Jason, and Anand. Please, let’s go ahead. – Oh, oh well, this
isn’t even working, okay. So we’ve had these talks about how growth, I mean Jason you’ve spoken really greatly about how growth cannot happen if we continue to be consumers. And so, I mean besides the fact that we need to come together as a people and reign in these big corporations, that needs to come with
a better civics education which most of us do not
have, and that can often, and call me a conspiracy theorist, come at the hands of the fact
that governments are often sitting in the pockets of
these grand corporations. So I mean, if anyone wants
to rally outside let me know. Point is–
– All right. – My question is for Jason.
– So very quickly– – Yes. Can there be ethical
consumerism under capitalism? – All right, hold that
thought for a second, one more question. (audience applauding) – (audience member) Oh, go right ahead. – My question is for Anand. You said in the beginning of your speech when you were talking,
that this is more capture than capitalism that we’re
experiencing in the world and that there are different
forms of capitalism, but even some of the
better forms of capitalism such as Canada or France,
are built upon the backs of selling weapons to countries that are using it to
starve people in Yemen. Or that, let’s not forget
the fact that capitalism (audience applauding)
was built upon the backs of the transatlantic slave trade. So is there any way of
distinguishing capitalism from its history and its present? Because even if we’re
claiming a welfare state, we’re still selling weapons to autocrats in other parts of the
world to kill human beings. So, is there a good capitalism, ever? – [Ghida] So the hypocrisy as you say– – I think it’s–
– Very often, Anand, just in a minute if we can, as we have to to another vote. – It’s such an important question, but I think we can’t allow
the abuse of a system to define a system, because we allow the abusers to be the
powerful, in that case. I went to the local souk here yesterday. That’s capitalism. People selling stuff for a higher price than they bought it, hopefully. And I have no problem with the transaction those people were engaging in. And what I’m suggesting, is
you are absolutely right. Many of the worst evils in
history are inextricable from capitalism and the
abuse of capitalism. But I don’t think that indicts someone in the market here in Doha
trying to sell a carpet for 20% more than they bought it, or 200% more maybe, as
the case seemed to be. And so, I wanna separate the abuse from the possibility of saying yes, it is fine that most people
need to make a living and sell things at a higher
price than they buy them, but that should not rule us. That should not be an
ideology that dupes us. That should not justify exploitation. That should not justify poverty– – Anand I must interrupt you, forgive me. Just in the brief minute that we have before we go to the vote, Jason. – Was it okay if I jump in on
the carpet seller idea here? Because in fact, I’m not
sure that’s the best example of what capitalism is in fact. What that is is, it’s a way of
exchanging goods and services that humans have been doing forever. But capitalism is a recent phenomenon, only a couple of hundred years old, that is organized around
perpetual, indefinite growth. So, the purpose for the carpet seller, is to sell enough to have enough
money to feed his children, and put them through school,
et cetera, et cetera. Not in order to expand to a global empire and force us all to buy carpets by advertising aggressively on Facebook, to buy carpets we don’t need
and don’t even really want. – [Ghida] Jason thank you,
Ameenah I’ll come to you in a minute, but give me a second. Just give me a second if you would– – I think some of us–
– We have to go– – [Anand] Did have Facebook stickers on the outside.
– We have to stop this conversation but
give me just a second. – Just one second–
– All right, go ahead– – About the ethical consumerism. And ethical consumerism, again, can be regulated through certification. This is where consumers
have a key role to play because they can make or they can break. – All right, okay.
– So– – But we heard the arguments–
– Yes. – And I’m sorry to have to cut them short but let’s see if anyone in the audience and those people online watching us have actually bought into them. Let’s do a quick second vote,
before we close this debate. And while you all vote, Nel, tell us what else you’re
hearing out there. – I mean, it’s getting quite hot in here. There’s a lot of opinions
being shared but I’ve to say Ghida, people are watching
from all over the world. We’ve got here, people from Canada, from California, from
Lebanon and Qatar as well. And lots of people are gathering around that point that Dr. Clayton made which is, “We need to make sure that we
all are saying the same things “when we’re saying certain terms.” So when we’re talking about
capitalism, what do we mean? When we’re saying growth, what do we mean? Because people are confused about whether you agree, Jason
and Anand, or disagree. There seems to be some sort
of conflation going on. I’ll tell you roughly,
just some of the tweets that caught my eye, and
thank you guys again, for using that hashtag
Dear World at Doha Debates. One of my favorites so
far is one from Lebanon. It’s Paladin who describes himself as a bit of a debater online, and he said, “We need heavily regulated capitalism “if it is gonna work at all. “The system is rigged
to the ultra-wealthy”. So I think there’s a
point for Jason there. I’m just gonna give you one
more that I really love. We’ve got some people watching in our shared studios portals in Sweden. Hello guys, thank you for tuning in. And a really good point made
here, by Ron Vanderstarren. And he says, “Capitalism is not suited “for the 21st century,
and needs to evolve.” So that word evolve keeps coming up. The idea of corruption keeps coming up. All of these things seem
to be very important. And we’ve got some people who are commenting on Instagram as well. One more, here we go, we’ve got time for one more–
– All right, – If I can find it–
– A very quick one actually, we do have the results Nel. – Oh brilliant, I’ll be very quick. The two words that seem to be
most important on Instagram are power and accountability,
which is something that I hope our speakers can talk to
in their closing arguments. Thank you guys.
– Okay, thanks so much Nel. Let’s quickly have a look and
see, if anything has changed since we first began this discussion. So there was the earlier
vote, as you remember Anand, with more than 50% of the vote, 24 and 20. (audience applauding and cheering) So I have to say Jason, your
position has really taken off! Growth is killing us, top
growth, that is something that has really resonated
as you can tell, 44%. Anand, yours has gone down– – The guy who is against growth
is the only guy who grew. I mean that’s the algorithm
for this whole thing– – But Ameenah you still
have a lot of work to do to convince everyone here. So very quickly, in a minute or less each, 30 seconds would even be better. What would you say are the sacrifices that we all have to make, big and small, to make this alternative system work? – Yeah, I don’t think this is about us making personal sacrifices necessarily. Of course, we need to consume
less in our personal lives but that’s not going to solve the problem. What we need to do is organize to create a fundamentally
different kind of economy. One that is fundamentally fair, more just and more ecological. Now it’s not going to
happen if we sit alone in our flats, and try
to consume better, okay? We need to build political movements, bring new ideas into the mainstream, and build a fundamentally better economy. – All right, Ameenah, young people want, they crave this other system, more fair, more equitable, more inclusive. Are you still going to tell them that the answer lies in capitalism? – The answer lies in capitalism. We need to have growth so as
to generate the resources, but at the bottom line is that we need to have a shared practice of sharing the fruits
of the growing economy. – [Ghida] Anand, your priority. – Don’t click, join. – [Ghida] All right! – It is the construction of people-power that is too overwhelming for
plutocrats and corrupt leaders that will truly change the future, and we think we’re civically active when we’re online, we’re not. Join something.
– Yes. – Okay, well, a very, very good note on which to end this debate. Thank you to all of our fantastic guests. Jason, Ameenah and Anand of course, thank you all for joining
us with your questions, thoughts and ideas,
thank you for being here. Thanks to the Qatar Foundation, let’s continue this conversation online, obviously on Twitter, you can also follow us
on Instagram and YouTube, and learn more about our
other topics this season, by going to dohadebates.com,
and you can also watch all the videos that we have out there. Let’s all make a commitment now, using the #[email protected] Until our next debate
which will take place in Paris during the Peace Forum there, we say thank you very much for
joining us, and see you soon. (audience cheering and applauding) (inspirational music) (crosstalk)

8 Comments on "Doha Debates: Capitalism"


  1. I really was so satisfied by the way this organization kept everything on its way, i've been inside the studio today! And the thing i saw was like Oh My God! Cameras, the design of the studio, every little structure of the event was so organized and majestic in my view! Thanks to Doha Debates! Such a pleasure to become inside the crowd of the discussion! #Doha_Debates_Is_Awesome!
    #Capitalism #Global_Solutions #DearWorld

    Reply

  2. The problem is interest being charged by financial institution, greed and not giving back to the community. We will continue heading in a bad place as long this is not stopped.

    Reply

  3. Brilliant format. Great to see a reasoned and plural debate, and to directly involve our future leaders. An important and complex topic, very well presented and argued. I am most impressed by the insightful and thoughtful questions from the audience. A new power is rising.

    Reply

  4. Jason Hickel is the closest to the Resource Based Economy from the Venus Project and Zeitgeist movement. WE need to get rid of the monetary system. This is the real problem. The monetary system brings out the worst of us.

    Reply

  5. Big fan of free market capitalism. But very much open to having my mind changed… let’s watch…

    Reply

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