Why capitalism is broken and how we can overthrow it

Watch the Recordings and access Further Readings

four part political education lecture series

Our society is in crisis. While coronavirus has caused the tragic loss of thousands of lives, it has also revealed the deep flaws in our neoliberal capitalist system. Together, the grim legacy of austerity, privatisation, and decades of assaults on workers’ rights, is making itself felt in the interlocking crises we now face.

The climate crisis, health crisis, economic crisis, employment crisis: each demand that we take a radical step away from the existing political and economic order.

But how did we get here and how do we overthrow this broken system? Where does our power lie? What can we learn from historical and present progressive movements? And what does a radically transformed, democratic and just society actually look like?

This unique four-part lecture series will explore these vital questions, and provide you with a foundational understanding of how our society has been organised over the last four decades, why this is, how it is flawed, and how we can resist it.

This political education programme is aimed at everyone, whether you are a member of the party or interested in learning more.

what will i learn?

By the end of the series you should be able to:

> Fully understand how neoliberal capitalist agenda have shaped our society both in the UK and globally

> Recognise how our broken democracy has propped up a political and economic order that is failing both people and planet

> Give examples of how people powered movements have resisted and impacted on this agenda, from trade unions to social movements

> Recognise how and why the issues we face today are interlocking, where our power lies in order to transform the system, and where Green politics fits into all of this

Below, you can read short summaries on what each session will cover:

why should i join?

The Young Greens is here to empower a generation of young people to build a society that is radically just and equal.

But first we need to get educated.

In order to change the world around us, we need to understand it and how we got here. Only then can we find the routes to achieving radical change.

Whether you are new to the Green Party and just finding your feet in politics or a long time member looking to develop your own understanding of power, society and Green politics, this series will be the perfect place for you.

With plenty of additional resources and further learning opportunities available following each session, you will be able to take this programme as far as you like, building your knowledge in the areas and at the pace that’s right for you.

our facilitator

Sam Coates

Sam Coates is currently based in Cardiff, and has spent many years working at the forefront of campaigns pushing for a radical and progressive transformation of society.

This includes spending four years as Campaigns and Digital Officer at Unlock Democracy building a movement to demand democracy in the UK, and delivering radical training programmes for the student activist network, People & Planet as their Activism and Events Manager.

He has also managed major election campaigns, designed and implemented activism strategies, and helped found a new political startup to bring UK election campaigning into the 21st century.

Alongside this, he is a longstanding member of the Green Party, a former co-chair of the Young Greens of England and Wales (2011-2013), and was a Green Party County Councillor in Oxfordshire between 2013-17.


Before you begin...

  • Read a summary of the whole lecture series over at Bright Green
  • Access our list of Key Terms to accompany the lectures
  • Lecture 1: Neoliberalism, austerity and privatisation


    View the slides for Lecture 1 here

    Shorter reads

  • Margaret Thatcher, neoliberalism and the global south
  • The Ghosts of Mont Perelin
  • Longer reads

  • Stuart Hall’s Neoliberal revolution [Article]
  • A Brief History of Neoliberalism by David Harvey [Book]
  • Postcapitalism by Paul Mason [Book]

  • Watch

  • Tom Nicolson's YouTube explainer on Neoliberalism
  • The film adaptation of Thomas Picketty’s Capital in the 21st century provides an excellent basic overview of how we got to where we are.
  • Ideas for activities

  • Write a 500 word blog about a recent government announcement and how it is consistent with neoliberal principles. Or do the same for an existing policy you’re interested in. For example, in England private companies still manage the Covid track and trace programme, despite a terrible track record. Publish your blog on your own site or another and send us a link ([email protected]) - we'd love to read it!
  • Start a conversation on Twitter tagging @younggreenparty and @samcoatescymru) about how neoliberalism has affected your life and those around you. Did sky-high fees impact your decision whether to go to university? Are you being exploited by poor conditions at work? Try to draw the themes from the conversation into the core features (austerity, deregulation, privatisation) of neoliberalism and how the situation benefits capitalists.
  • Find articles or news stories that illustrate the impact of neoliberalism on today's society, and share them on social media adding your analysis, drawing on themes from the lecture. Use the hashtag #YGRadicalLecture!
  • Lecture 2: The changing state of democracy in the UK


    View the slides for Lecture 2 here

    Shorter reads

  • Jacobin on how neoliberalism replaced the citizen with the consumer
  • Longer reads

  • Adam Ramsay’s To milk a vulture, on the history of the British state

  • Books referred to during the talk

  • Democracy for Sale, Peter Geoghegan (A highly readable guide to dark money, thinktanks and buying elections in recent years)
  • Democracy may not exist, but we’ll miss it when it’s gone, Astra Taylor (Also a very accessible history of the the idea of democracy, and the conflicts we need to navigate in finding the best ideal form of it)
  • Democracy against capitalism, Ellen Meiksins Wood (Quite dense and theoretical)


  • A short Radio 4 programme on the Chartists
  • Another short on the Chartists
  • Ideas for activities

  • Start a conversation in the YG Facebook group (or Twitter tagging @younggreenparty and @samcoatescymru) about whether you feel your voice is heard in our current political system
  • Find articles or news stories that show the concentration of political power in action and share them with the #poledlectureseries
  • Lecture 3


    View the slides for Lecture 3 here

    Shorter reads

  • Britain, meet Bolivia: what can social movements learn from each other?
  • How Bolivia's left returned to power months after Morales was forced out

  • Books

  • Live working or die fighting is a readable guide to the development of the working class first in Europe, then across the world.
  • The making of the English working class by EP Thomas is considered a classic, a very long, academic history of the forces that shaped the working class, their politics and resistance.
  • The making of the black working class in Britain by Ron Ramadin is also long but a worthwhile read into an often erased area of British history. (Akala’s Natives is a much more accessible introduction).
  • The Long ‘68 is a sympathetic overview of the ‘new social movements’ that emerged in the global north in the 60s. It covers student radicalism, feminist movements, radical leftist organisations and how all this interacted (or not!) with traditional working class organisation.
  • Radical Happiness by Lynne Segal (a key thinker of the ‘68 generation’) is a broad but rewarding read covering issues like women’s experiences throughout history, the consciousness raising and other activities of the women’s liberation movement.
  • Women in twentieth century Britain by Ina Zweiniger-Bargielowska is an accessible broad-introduction written with students in mind
  • A Century of Women by Sheila Rowbotham is a comprehensive read written with the popular reader in mind
  • Women’s history in Britain 1850-1945 by June Purvis is a more detailed introduction to the topic
  • Women, workplace protest and political identity in England 1968-85


  • The BBC’s Small Axe film series takes are engrossing dramatisations of post-war black British history and the struggles against racism
  • Black british history you’re not taught in school
  • The Lost World of the Suffragettes
  • Ideas for activities

  • Do some research on one of the movements you’re most inspired by, to find out about their tactics. What can we learn to apply to today’s struggles for justice? Tell us about it in the YG Facebook group (or Twitter tagging @younggreenparty and @samcoatescymru) or even write a 500 word blog post about it. Publish your blog on your own site or another and send us a link ([email protected]) - we'd love to read it!
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    View the slides for Lecture 4 here

    Shorter reads

  • The Shock Doctrine of the Left in Red Pepper
  • ‘Ecosocialism or death’ interview with Kali Akuno, founder of Cooperation Jackson
  • Interview with Debbie, daughter of Murray Bookchin, the founder of social ecology theory
  • Derek Wall’s recent article on ‘base building’ as a political strategy

    On Ecosocialism

  • This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein is a hugely inspiring and accessible guide to why trying to work within the status quo has hampered action on the climate crisis

    On Questions of Political Strategy

  • Referenced at the end of the session, Graham Jones’ Shock Doctrine of the Left is a short read that tries to outline a ‘meta-strategy’ for the left.
  • How to be a socialist in the 21st century by Erik Olin Wright introduces the four approaches of taming, smashing, escaping and eroding capitalism and is also fairly accessible.
  • How to blow up a pipeline by Andreas Malm is a call to action for climate activists in the global north to get real about what history tells us is necessary to win against what he calls ‘fossil capital’.


  • Watch this inspiring short film about the democratic confederalist society being built in Rojava, Kurdistan
  • For a long, but worthwhile introduction to social ecology, listen to Srsly Wrong’s podcast episode on social ecology

    Ideas for activities

  • Read and discuss Matt Hanley’s “Green politics is class politics” article on Bright Green. Do you think he’s right? Post about it on social media (or Twitter tagging @younggreenparty and @samcoatescymru)
  • Read and discuss the piece on Cooperation Jackson, how could you apply these ideas to building ecosocialism as part of your local political work?
  • This project is supported by the European Youth Foundation of the Council of Europe

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