Extreme wealth’s devastating threat to democracy

Experts discuss the relationship between the state, wealth and democracy.

Members event, Panel
23 March 2022 — 5:00PM TO 6:00PM

Whilst millions of people suffered and hundreds of thousands died as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, America’s billionaires saw their collective wealth exceed $5 trillion. This increase of 70% in the rich’s wealth is no accident, following a pattern of growing inequality and hollowed out public services that has been underway for decades. 

The pursuit of wealth has undermined society’s capacity to deal with crises and left the world in its present troubled state. Lobbying has entrenched itself, rules and laws amended, public services undermined and the relationship between the state and wealthy individuals entrenched. Regional inequality has left many areas in the West disadvantaged, resistant to change. 

But are people increasingly beginning to see and question the super-wealth? On the other hand, is it true that extreme wealth brings value to democracy? Does the ‘trickle down effect’ still effectively take place?

The panel of experts will discuss:

  • Point to examples, to what extent are illiberal democracies and authoritarian regimes presenting wealth inequality as an example of Western democratic failings? 

  • To what extent do people living in ‘left behind regions’ place the blame of economic inequality at the feet of the wealthy?

  • Can billionaires and the mega-rich coexist with a functional democracy?

  • Are high-income earners, outside the mega-rich, also contributing to this malaise without knowing?

  • What options are available to the working-class, middle classes, just-about-managing’s and others to counter this pattern?

  • Is there enough global appetite to reverse the trends of wealth inequality?

As with all Chatham House member events, questions from members drive the conversation.

Become an individual member

Individual membership provides you with the complete Chatham House experience, connecting you with a unique global policy community.

A member takes the opportunity to ask the panel a question at our event on the digital revolution.
Find out more Auto insert on member events