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9 Ways Coronavirus Could Transform Capitalism

Natascha van der Zwan, Assistant Professor at Leiden Univeristy, together with two other authors, wrote a book that explored some of the ways coronavirus is impacting the global capitalist system – and how this could change for better and for worse.

Philip Mader, Natascha van der Zwan & Daniel Mertens
02 June 2020

The global crisis of 2008 did not change the world. The financial and political responses to it did. With hindsight, we know the ‘new normal’ that came after 2008 is a world of increased financialisation, alongside austerity, jobless growth, precarity, exploding inequality, tech takeover, and authoritarianism. There have been green shoots of progressive protest and insurrection, but the unrest never sustainably empowered even moderate-left alternatives. The pitchforks never came.

In envisioning a post-coronavirus ‘new normal’, we must make sense of seemingly contradictory developments linked to financialisation. Now, as in 2008, governments are adopting ‘radical’ financial crisis management measures, unthinkable until recently, including widespread income support programs, dividend payment suspensions, and debt moratoria. Some may see this as progressive. 

But such emergency measures may be seen as feasible only in the crisis moment and be rapidly abandoned, to be replaced with the crushing weight of a ‘wall of money’ and punitive revenge capitalism. The neoliberals won’t let this crisis go to waste. The pandemic has already made the richest a lot richer, while they fired workers asking for reasonable protections. The virus and the responses to it have reinforced structural inequalities linked to gender and race. Covid-19 is not a ‘great equaliser’.

To read more about the book, click here. 

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