Katherine Venice had an article in the FT yesterday. She is the founder of The Ethical Capitalism Group. Please do not stop there, despite the paradoxical name: her point was serious. She opened, saying:
Can capitalism be made into a force to serve the greater good and solve society’s most urgent systemic problems? As former institutional investors, we believe it is time for capitalists, especially asset owners such as pension funds, university endowments, foundations and sovereign wealth funds, to stand up for democracy.
For FT copyright reasons I cannot note much else of what she said, but the essence was simple. Her suggestion was that capitalism without democracy is oligarchy, with winners and losers determined by autocrats. In that case, those tasked with institutional saving of pension and other funds have, she argued, a duty to fund those who support democracy in the USA and defund those who oppose it before it is too late to save, as it would be if Trump won in 2024. Her suggestion was that pension funds, university endowments and others have a duty to pass this message to companies: defunding Republicans is in the interests of mainstream America, she says.
I think she is right. I do not have to believe that all that the companies that she might invest in is useful, good or even right to think that they have a critical role in opposing the spread of the far-right anti-democratic forces that threaten to undermine the USA. That process is already underway as voter laws are changed to end democracy as anyone might reasonably recognise it in some states. It can only get worse if Trump runs for the Republicans again, as he might.
I would add that there are other issues where such an alignment of institutional investors and endowment bodies with political interests is required: support for action on climate change is the other that springs to mind.
But, in a crisis, and we have a crisis, it would be churlish to ignore calls like this. What is being said is that the very structures of society are now being undermined by the far-right and that all have a duty to oppose that if anything else that we might reasonably want to achieve is not to become impossible.
Coalitions of the willing in defence of democracy need to be created. And the threat is not just in the USA. Democracy is tottering on the brink in the UK as well. It would help so much if our Opposition helped organise and cooperate with those willing to save it, but if they won't I think it time to work with all who might. Are there any equivalent calls in the UK in that case?