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Home / Events / Past events / Covid-19, democratic ownership and the future of the economy

Covid-19, democratic ownership and the future of the economy

In 2008, the state bailed out the banks. In 2020, it is bailing out the whole of capitalism. State intervention and public borrowing are at their highest level in peacetime history.

Some have described this as “a Tory government implementing Labour policies”, but is all state economic intervention intrinsically progressive? Here in the UK, the government is underwriting 80% of many workers’ wages, but at employers’ discretion. While many workers and benefit claimants have been left in dire straits, many businesses are able to claim bailout money while paying out big dividends or continuing to exploit tax havens.

The crisis also poses questions about whose priorities and whose leadership should govern economic activity. NHS staff have criticised the government’s strategy; postal workers have walked off the job refusing to risk exposure delivering junk mail; and American workers at General Electric have demanded that their factories build ventilators not jet engines.

So in this session, we will explore what coronavirus means for the future of public ownership and economic democracy. Will the big state stick around, and is that what we want? What would a democratic economy look like? And what should the left be saying and doing to get there?