FT journalist John Plender speaks to JS Mill Society


The JS Mill Society was addressed by John Plender, an eminent journalist and former senior editor at the FT, on October 1st. John gave a fascinating talk on the history of capitalism and how well it works as a system in today’s world.

John said that despite an average growth rate of over 2% a year since the Industrial Revolution, we still aren't content with the workings of capitalism in the modern day. On the contrary, there have been many anti-capitalism protests over the years and we seem less happy now with how it works for the average person than ever, with movements such as ‘Occupy Wall Street’ becoming much more popular in recent years.

The fundamental flaws of inequality and cyclical disturbances present in capitalism are as deep running as ever, with no change to be expected in the recent future: summed up perfectly by the 2008 Financial Crisis. Pollution and climate change are problems that are difficult to solve, even with regulation, due to monetary incentives provided to companies that manage to avoid being caught breaking the rules (as seen recently with Volkswagen).

But despite the severe and real grievances many hold against capitalism, it remains the system we maintain today. This is because even with the problems which come with it, other systems have issues even more egregious than what we currently have. John Plender summed it up with a re-appropriated Churchill quote, that capitalism is “The worst system, apart from all the others which have been tried so far.”

(Review by Noah Caplin, Sixth Form)

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