Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The World Economic Forum, which hosts the big annual party in Davos every January, thinks “Today’s consumers do not want more and better goods and services for a reasonable price. Rather, they increasingly expect companies to contribute to social welfare and the common good”.
We must move on from neoliberalism in the post-COVID era
- COVID-19 has shaken the world in ways not seen since the world wars, affecting all aspects of human life.
- For the sustainable development of the planet, it’s vital our recovery prioritizes new, greener ways to do business.
- The ‘Great Reset’ offers an opportunity to re-evaluate sacred cows of the pre-pandemic system but also defend long-held values.
No event since World War II’s end has had as profound a global impact as COVID-19. The pandemic has triggered a public health and economic crisis on a scale unseen in generations and has exacerbated systemic problems such as inequality and great-power posturing.
The only acceptable response to such a crisis is to pursue a “Great Reset” of our economies, politics, and societies. Indeed, this is a moment to re-evaluate the sacred cows of the pre-pandemic system, but also to defend certain long-held values. The task we face is to preserve the accomplishments of the past 75 years in a more sustainable form.
Specifically, we will need to reconsider our collective commitment to “capitalism” as we have known it. Obviously, we should not do away with the basic engines of growth. We owe most of the social progress of the past to entrepreneurship and to the capacity to create wealth by taking risks and pursuing innovative new business models. We need markets to allocate resources and the production of goods and services efficiently, particularly when it comes to confronting problems like climate change.
But we must rethink what we mean by “capital” in its many iterations, whether financial, environmental, social, or human. Today’s consumers do not want more and better goods and services for a reasonable price. Rather, they increasingly expect companies to contribute to social welfare and the common good. There is both a fundamental need and an increasingly widespread demand for a new kind of “capitalism.”
I’m glad the WEF has made things so clear. Any attachment you feel to say having enough cash to pay your weekly food bill or getting the best possible deal on goods and services is old style neocapitalist thinking.
According to the WEF, what you really want deep, deep down is to know that your local supermarket cares about good causes, and that the profit from the inflated prices you pay at the checkout goes towards helping to mitigate climate change and global inequality.