Martin Wolf: in defence of democratic capitalism

 My father had been born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire in April 1910. Few could have then foreseen the catastrophes to befall Europe over the next 35 years. 

This history is not irrelevant. It must serve as a warning. It has made me aware throughout my life that political mistakes can combine with economic disasters to unleash destruction upon societies believed civilised.

I grew up during the cold war. The defence of liberal democracy was the political backdrop to my formative years.

Now, however, the health of democracy is in question. 

The most radical notion in democratic capitalism is that it seeks to separate political power from wealth.

Capitalism is cosmopolitan, while democracy is tied to a territorial jurisdiction. Capitalism means one pound one vote, while democracy means one citizen one vote. 

One danger, then, is that wealth buys power in the name of order, turning democracy into plutocracy. Another is that demagogues seize power in the name of the people, turning democracy into autocracy.

Today’s liberal democracies are the most successful societies in human history, in terms of prosperity, freedom and the welfare of their peoples. But they are also fragile. Resting on consent, they require legitimacy. Among the most important sources of legitimacy is widely shared prosperity.

FT 20 January 2023

Martin Wolf “The Crisis of Democratic Capitalism” Årets viktigaste bok

Blir USA den första rika demokratin att ta död på sig själv?

Steven Levitsky och Daniel Ziblatt ”Tyranny of the minority: Why american democracy reached the breaking point”, 

DN 20 september 2023

Martin Wolf


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