Intelligence Squared

Monday, December 2 at 2:00 pm

Capitalism Is a Blessing

Recent polls show that two out of three Americans support capitalism. But with the wealth gap widening and democratic socialist politicians gaining support, some Americans are starting to consider socialism as a viable economic and political model. Supporters of capitalism claim that no other system has been as effective in creating value, increasing prosperity, and producing the wealth that has lifted billions of people out of poverty. The free market, they argue, encourages competition and human ingenuity, values individual choice, and organizes society in a fair and just way. Critics of capitalism, however, paint a different picture. They argue that capitalism is inherently exploitative and that business owners seek profits above all else, leading to the distortion of human worth as one distilled to an individual’s labor power. Further, they claim that a capitalist system is inherently rigged to benefit the wealthy and powerful, and the byproducts of which have created unsustainable waste and decimated the world’s wildlife and natural resources. Who is right, and is capitalism here to stay?

John Mackey
Co-Founder & CEO, Whole Foods Market
John Mackey, co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, has led the natural and organic grocer to become an $18 billion in revenues company that is now owned by Amazon. With more than 500 stores and 95,000 team members in three countries, the company was named by Fortune magazine as one of “The Hundred Best Companies to Work For” for 20 consecutive years. A strong believer in free market principles, Mackey co-founded the Conscious Capitalism Movement and co-authored a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best-selling book, titled "Conscious Capitalism, Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business.”

Katherine Mangu-Ward
Editor-in-Chief, Reason
Katherine Mangu-Ward is editor-in-chief of Reason, the libertarian magazine of "free minds and free markets," and co-host of the Reason Podcast. A Future Tense fellow at New America, her writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Slate, and numerous other publications. She is a frequent commentator on radio and television networks, including National Public Radio, CNBC, C-SPAN, Fox Business, and MSNBC.  

Bhaskar Sunkara
Founding Editor, Jacobin
Bhaskar Sunkara is the founding editor of Jacobin magazine and publisher of Catalyst journal, both of which offer socialist perspectives on politics, economics, and culture, as well as critiques of capitalism from a global perspective. An advocate of democratic socialism, he is the author of “The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality,” and a columnist at The Guardian. 

Richard D. Wolff
Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Richard D. Wolff is a Marxian economist and professor emeritus of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is currently a visiting professor at the New School University and previously taught at Yale University. Wolff is the founder of Democracy at Work and has written or contributed to over a dozen books, including his most recent, “Capitalism's Crisis Deepens: Essays on the Global Economic Meltdown,” and “Understanding Marxism.” Wolff earned his bachelor’s at Harvard and his master’s in economics and history, as well as a doctorate in economics, at Yale.

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