Climate Change and the Politics of Interdependence

Twenty-ninth Annual E. F. Schumacher Lectures (Copyright © 2009 New Economics Institute and Benjamin R. Barber

Benjamin R. Barber, 2009

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There are three things we need to do to address the challenges I have been talking about. We need to reconnect capitalism with real human need; we need to reconnect capitalism with democracy and democratic oversight; and we need to reconnect capitalism with nature itself, with sustainability. We don’t have to do away with capitalism, but we do have to put it back in its place. For the past 40 or 50 years we inverted the classical formula according to which the economy serves society, serves democracy, serves sustainability—with the result that politics and society have turned into servants of an economy devoted to assuring that private financial companies survive and make profits for their shareholders. But private profits are not the purpose of a public society. The capitalist economy should be subordinate to society, and democracy is how we guarantee that. Overseeing and regulating capitalism puts it in its proper place, as one of democracy’s many servers, certainly not as an end in itself.