The pandemic has shown the limits of the market … a book that takes is cue from the Apollo 11 mission is full of vital ideas for progressives who want to change capitalism

The charge sheet against 40 years of British capitalism is as damning as it is familiar. Most people have experienced stagnant wages and seen no improvement in living standards; a wealthy elite has accumulated more and more while helping to destroy the planet. Business is bedevilled by low investment, short-term management and corporate greed. These failures were enabled by the retreat of the state from guiding and directing the economy from the Thatcher era to today.

The bungled response of the government to the pandemic – from the failure to enforce lockdown early enough to the test and trace debacle – has exposed the depth of the rot. It has also demonstrated the power and importance of the state in a crisis. But therein lies what might seem to be a paradox: just as we have needed a strong, capable government, those in power have been exposed as clueless and incompetent. Free marketers argue that these problems are inherent to the state. But contrasting international experiences reveal otherwise: the correct response to the pandemic is to demand better government, not less.

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