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Martin Wolf and Yanis Varoufakis – System Error: Should We Fix Capitalism or Abandon It?

Should we admit that capitalism has had its day and strive for something new?

Martin Wolf is widely admired as one of the most influential economic commentators in the world. While he sees the flaws in the capitalist system he believes it is worth saving. Yanis Varoufakis is a globally renowned economist and a bestselling author. He rejects economic orthodoxies and advocates for a progressive post-capitalist new order. On February 2023 Wolf and Varoufakis came to the Intelligence Squared stage at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill to discuss and debate their competing views for a better world.

As Wolf argues in his new book, The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism, for all its recent failings – slowing growth, increasing inequality, widespread popular disillusion – democratic capitalism remains the best system we know for what Wolf calls human flourishing. And while progressives such as Varoufakis claim that democracy would function better without capitalism, Wolf believes that the two are complementary systems that need each other if either is to thrive.

Varoufakis by contrast believes that capitalism isn’t working for ordinary people. Political power is wielded by wealthy elites and tech overlords. As he sets out in his latest book Another Now, there could be a different way: one without banks, billionaires, tech giants or stock markets. In his alternative vision employees all have equal shares in companies, everyone is guaranteed a basic income and housing is socialised.

Should we admit that capitalism has had its day and strive for something new? Or can capitalism be made to work in a way that grants us all our fundamental freedoms?


Praise for Martin Wolf’s The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism

‘Martin Wolf is one of the deepest thinkers of our times and his latest book is a must-read!’ – Nouriel Roubini

‘Martin Wolf has written the definitive account of what ails capitalism and democracy. This staggeringly erudite and beautifully written book is sure to become required reading for anybody who wants to understand how democratic capitalism slid into a deep crisis, why it is worth rescuing, and how to do so.’ – Yascha Mounk


Praise for Yanis Varoufakis’ Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present

‘I am enjoying Yanis Varoufakis’s Another Now. The way we live is not inevitable.’ – Jeanette Winterson

‘A landmark work … A vision of a new society with new ways of thinking is possibly the most important thing an artist can offer at the moment.’ – Brian Eno



Yanis Varoufakis

Economist, politician and bestselling author, whose latest book is Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present

Bestselling author of Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present; Talking to My Daughter: A Brief History of Capitalism; Adults in the Room, a memoir of his time as finance minister of Greece; and an economic history of Europe, And the Weak Suffer What They Must? Born in Athens in 1961, Yanis Varoufakis was for many years a professor of economics in Britain, Australia and the USA before he entered politics. He is co-founder of the international grassroots movement DiEM25 and, since 2019, he is leading its parliamentary party in Greece's Parliament. He is currently Professor of Economics at the University of Athens.

Martin Wolf

Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times and author The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism

Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times. He was a member of the UK's Vickers Commission on Banking, which reported in 2011. He holds an honorary doctorate at the London School of Economics and is an honorary Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford.He is a member of the International Media Council of the World Economic Forum. In 2000, he was awarded the CBE for services to financial journalism and in 2019 won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Gerald Loeb Awards. His books include The Shifts and the Shocks; Why Globalization Works; and the upcoming The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism.

Speakers are subject to change.


Ritula Shah

Journalist and presenter on Classic FM

Presenter of Calm Classics on Classic FM. She was previously the main presenter of the World Tonight, BBC Radio 4’s main evening news programme.