Should Capitalism be Criminal?

Should Capitalism Be Criminal? was the first discussion in a series entitled Cabaret of Dangerous Ideas, which is essentially a leftie version of Question Time, set in a yurt in St Andrew Square. The speaker in charge was Dr Lynne Copson, a sociologist from Edinburgh University Law School who had been a speaker in the same series last year. The previous discussion focussed on the ethics of bankers’ actions, which for Dr Copson naturally resulted in this year’s discussion of Neo-Liberal capitalism as espoused by Britain today.

Essentially a leftie version of Question Time, set in a yurt in St Andrew Square.

The discussion quickly became lively and engaging, with several speakers from the audience bouncing ideas off one another after Dr Copson had finished her introduction. We considered the disproportionate focus on crime over what might be seen as more pressing issues, the public’s unwillingness to face tax hikes in face of its desire to maintain the welfare state and finally the value of becoming involved in local or party politics. At the end, the question had changed: Can individuals make a difference in an individualistic world?

One member of the audience pointed out that to turn away from capitalism would require a revolution. Another particularly curt member of the audience asked what the point of “a bunch of uninformed people” discussing these issues was, given the infinite, unknowable combination of variables which might be needed to cause positive societal change. So brutally negative was his position, though, that many audience members enquired “Why are you even here, then?”

A little scepticism about the usefulness of such discussions is due, but in a display of hands at the end of the talk we uncovered that almost everyone had learnt something, even if no one had changed their minds. As the final audience member to speak said in defence of the hour, it was useful to hear positions other than our own, even if we hadn’t come any closer to a conclusion.

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The Blurb

How effective is the law at protecting us from harm? Is our society too concerned about the apparent problem of crime and punishment rather than recognising bigger threats to our wellbeing? Instead of focussing on punishing individual murderers, what would happen to crime rates if we got rid of inequality? Would society fall apart, or would life be better for us all? In this show, Dr Lynne Copson (University of Edinburgh) asks you what kind of policies would really improve our daily lives, and whether crime rates are what we should be worrying about.