“We are watching an economic system that is behaving self-destructively. Why?”
Entering the third calendar year of this global pandemic, Prof Wolff’s newest lecture guides us through what Covid has revealed about our economy and political system. You can watch the newest Global Capitalism lecture: Political Economy of Covid: Year #3 today on our website or YouTube channel, or listen to it as a podcast.
“We have a systemic problem here in the United States.”
First, Wolff explains where we are today. A Canadian professor is warning of a possible civil war in the United States. The U.S. president is busy trying to convince the working class this is okay, while continuing to support big corporations and military contractors. There are signs of system decline all around us.
“I want to link for you the disease, the lockouts, the supply chains [and] the inflation so you understand how these things come together to produce the global catastrophe we are living through.”
Wolff looks into the mechanisms that have failed us in facing COVID-19 and its variants. Western capitalism’s lack of coordination and cooperation has been destructive. Countries like China have demonstrated that another way is possible- with much less death and suffering.
“What is going on? And my argument for you is that we have an economic system- our capitalism, particularly here in the West- which was uniquely unable to prepare for or to cope with this disease. And it's really important to see that connection between the economic system and the horrific failure to cope with [or] to manage this disease.”
Finally, Wolff shows us the results of this failure. Workers have turned to walkouts & quitting in response to dangerous conditions and low compensation. The so-called “labor shortage” represents today’s class struggle: employers unable to convince workers to be exploited anymore. Unions have become more militant, and young people, like those who were striking at Columbia University, are mobilizing to change their futures.
“Watch out. This system's dysfunction is teaching a new generation the way, the how and the why a system change is now on the historical agenda.”
We hope this Global Capitalism lecture from Richard Wolff sets the scene for 2022 and reminds us we do not have to suffer under capitalism’s pandemic failures. We can, and need to, create a better economic system. We can do better than capitalism.
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