The Politics of Democratizing Finance: A Radical View, Goldsmiths- 21 March

19th Mar 2019

Please join us for this exciting discussion on Thursday evening, featuring a leading sociologist of finance, Michael McCarthy, from the Marquette University, Wisconsin, and PERC’s Sahil Dutta as discussant.

The Politics of Democratizing Finance: A Radical View


21 Mar 2019, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

251, Richard Hoggart Building, Goldsmiths University

How might popular control of finance be democratically durable? This talk compares five competing proposals that promise to subject the allocation of finance to greater democratic control: breaking up the banks, public investment banks, sovereign wealth funds, inclusive ownership funds, and bank nationalization. It argues that even if installed, business counter-mobilizations and poor governance designs threaten to erode their democratic character and ultimately weaken them over time. To be democratically durable, finance reform first needs to undermine the critical sources of finance’s power – active engagement in politics and structural prominence in capitalist political economies. Bank nationalization appears the best suited to do that. But even so, nationalization is not sufficient. If finance capital is demobilized, the capacities of ordinary citizens to influence the allocation of finance must also be expanded or governance will be subject to capture by special interests in the state. The talk concludes by considering possible democratic governance institutions situated outside of formal institutions of the state: participatory budgeting, governance boards, and deliberative minipublics.

Presenter: Michael McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Marquette University, author of Dismantling Solidarity: Capitalist Politics and American Pensions Since the New Deal (Cornell, 2017). He is currently writing a book on democratizing finance for Verso.

Discussant: Sahil Jai Dutta is a Lecturer in Political Economy at Goldsmiths, University of London, and a member of the Political Economy Research Centre (PERC). He has particular interests in finance, money, management, and the political economy of Britain.