GUEST BLOG: Bryan Bruce – Capitalism in the 21st Century


Anyone who thinks we don’t need a wealth tax, yet wants to continue living in a safe society, really needs to watch the documentary Capitalism in the 21st Century.

I went to the NZ Premiere of the film tonight and I have to tell you that Kiwi Director Justin Pemberton’s film adaptation of French economist Thomas Picketty’s best selling book, delivers an excellent overview of 400 years of Capitalism and reveals why, if we don’t close the widening gap between the rich and the poor,history tells us there will be violence and revolution.

I would really like to see a screening of this film in our parliament – or perhaps have it projected onto the walls of it this summer. Because, at the risk of repeating myself yet again , you can’t have the politics of kindness and wellbeing if you practice the economics of selfishness.

If each coming generation continues to become poorer than their parents, then eventually there will be a social breakdown across a number of Neoliberal driven economies which will, internationally, result in a level of violence the world has not witnessed since the French and Russian revolutions

Congulations to everyone who helped make Capitalism in the 21st Century I’d particularly like to give a shout out to my friend Catherine Madigan who was one of the co-producers .

Watch out for it when it comes up for general release.

Brilliant !

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues.

TDB Recommends


  1. This guy, Aditya Chakrabortty, always has some good insights about capitalism and how it has gone wrong in topical examples.

    What is important is how laws and democracy is being reduced in modern times. If all the left are going to do is tell ordinary people to pay more taxes it has become a joke under user pays 21c, when everybody knows that that the more corrupt members of society have so much money they are not only able to buy up politicians, break the law and get nothing or next to nothing in penalty, change the laws to suit themselves, and get knighthoods and free media coverage (because they own the media or contribute so much in advertising now) and yet more money to continue to expand the practise!

    The RMA is an example in NZ where over 99 percent of resource consents are approved because the entire process it to approve anything is about lying and cheating and minimising, semantics of details and flawed lengthy reports that do the above.

    Like in many areas, NZ officials have not realised there is a lot of money to be made in property consents and RMA, so gosh, people lie and cheat and manipulate to get it through, and through our legal system that is allowed and fake accounts are not bought to account, therefore it has become the norm. If anyone challenges the environmental a consent, they are up for tens of thousands of fines from the environment court and called a Nimby. Unsurprisingly most people have given up and community spirit is broken as is bothering to put in a public submission or go to a protest.

    Most of our process for allocating resources in NZ from water to housing has zero quality control it is just an expensive process and the odds are over 99% that any shit is going to be approved from Pike River death traps to the shedding Victopia building…

    Did anyone get prosecuted for the dangerous Pike River mine, nope, is anyone going to be prosecuted over the Victoria building, nope…

  2. I’d also say the fundamentals of trusting economic theories is also fatally flawed, judging from increasing inequality, environmental destruction to the point our climate has now changed and possibly no going back and global financial crisis every decade that the economists fail to predict!

    Look at the dickhead Gabriel Makhlouf, and Don Brash mentality, and their behaviours. Economics has become a dishonourable profession of dickheads who are completely unaccountable for their flawed and naive views, anti society and pathological behaviour.

    They can’t even operate in the real world with real money or operate business or technology most of the time and so unsurprisingly not only fail to miss financial crises but also contribute to them constantly occurring with flawed thinking that the politicians eat up!

    The emperors in the emperors new clothes are modern economists!

  3. “If each coming generation continues to become poorer than their parents, then eventually there will be a social breakdown across a number of Neoliberal driven economies which will, internationally, result in a level of violence the world has not witnessed since the French and Russian revolutions”

    But first will be preceeded by tge ekection of demagogues throughout the western world

    Authoritarisnism was once the curse of developing countries and sicieties under stress

    Now that curse will be visited upon us

  4. Private Taxation

    19th July 2019

    Governments have built a heaven for landlords and a hell for tenants. It’s time to change the system.

    By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 17th July 2019

    I have a friend who works almost every waking hour, mainly to pay the rent. Her landlord lives on a beach, 4000 miles away. He seldom responds to her requests, and grudgingly pays for the minimum of maintenance. But every so often, he writes to inform her that he is raising the rent. He does not have to work, because she and other tenants work on his behalf. He is able to live the life of his choice, because they give their time to him. As there is an absolute shortage of accessible housing, they have no choice but to pay his exorbitant fees.

    Rents charged at such rates – far beyond the costs of capital and maintenance – are, in these circumstances, a form of private taxation, levied by the rich on the poor. The penalty for failing to pay this tax is arguably greater than the penalty for failing to pay taxes owed to the state: eviction and homelessness. People say “I work for Tesco” or “I work for Deliveroo”, but the reality for many is that they work for their landlord. While the average mortgaged household spends 12% of its income on housing, the average renting household spends 36%. I have met plenty of people who hand over 50% or more.

    The UK has become a paradise for landlords, and hell for tenants. Buy-to-let mortgages, easy evictions, uncapped rents, generous tax breaks and the replacement of social housing with housing benefit (a bill that now amounts to £22 billion a year, much of which is paid to private landlords) have turned the rental sector into a licence to print money, at the expense of both tenants and taxpayers. In the 13 years between 2002 and 2015, average wages for people who rent rose by 2%, but their rents rose by 16%.

    Landlords get away with providing unfit and dangerous accommodation, and tenants have a powerful incentive not to complain to the local authority, as 46% of those who do so are summarily evicted. The government’s promise to repeal Section 21 of the 1988 Housing Act, that enables owners of property to evict their tenants without good reason, will achieve little if it is not accompanied by a cap on rent rises: otherwise landlords can engineer de facto evictions by hiking the price. ( Where is that CGT of at least 60%??? Excluding that diversion the family home!)

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