The Council of Europe
Online and Strasbourg, France
7 November 2023
Democracies world-wide promised many things, including a relatively equitable distribution of resources and an equality of opportunity.
Disappointment and frustration over the failure to deliver on these promises is often a source of conflict both within and between societies. Wars are frequently perceived economic endeavours, since gaining other people’s resources was a way to justify the immense price paid by the victors. Those who would lose a war, had to replenish the coffers of their conquerors in the times of peace as well. In creating the acute disbalance of wealth, such processes may create even more dangerous inequalities of access to power, resources, information and feedbacks. It is unfortunately no wonder that small cliques of the wealthy and powerful often start wars, while losing touch with the broader society. Democracy, with its emphasis on citizens’ participation and the protection of individual rights, provides a framework for collective decision making, while limiting and distributing political power. Capitalism on the other hand is a system of resource allocation, which determines how the inputs, surplus value and prosperity are shared. In our day and age, we can clearly see that the ordinary citizens, or labouring class, are not the ones who profit from waging wars or sabotaging the efforts to reach peace.
Eliane Chemla, Vice-President of the European Committee on Social Rights, State Councillor
Matt Grudnoff, Senior Economist at The Australia Institute
Serge Stroobants, Director for Europe and MENA, Institute for Economics and Peace