So why won’t the government act? Partly because, regardless of the corrosive impacts on public life, it wants to keep the system as it is. The current rules favour the parties with the most money to spend, which tends to mean the parties that appeal to the rich. But mostly, I think, it’s because, like other governments, it has become institutionally incapable of responding to our emergencies. It won’t rescue democracy because it can’t. The system in which it is embedded seems destined to escalate rather than dampen disasters.
Ecologically, economically and politically, capitalism is failing as catastrophically as communism failed. Like state communism, it is beset by unacknowledged but fatal contradictions. It is inherently corrupt and corrupting. But its mesmerising power, and the vast infrastructure of thought that seeks to justify it, makes any challenge to the model almost impossible to contemplate. Even to acknowledge the emergencies it causes, let alone to act on them, feels like electoral suicide. As the famous saying goes: “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.” Our urgent task is to turn this the other way round.