Many of us feel like the world is falling apart- and we can’t hold it together anymore. Prof Richard Wolff is speaking to that feeling in his new lecture.
When we can’t face an economic system that destroys us all, we instead turn to other conflicts of economic competition, cultural war and political divisiveness. Richard Wolff explains all this clearly in just over an hour of analysis on today’s most telling splits in the world.
Watch “War, Sanctions, Deepening Splits: Economic, Political, and Cultural” on our website or listen as a podcast today.
Prof Wolff begins the lecture with the headlines of war. Conflict between Ukraine and Russia continues with international attention- but not just on the ground, but in economic sanctions as well. To get the economics of this conflict, tune into the lecture and hear Wolff’s thoughts on what he calls a capitalist’s war.
“Here are two societies with their capitalist agendas and their political concerns. How are they going to work this out?”
This leads to a conversation about international alliances and who is at odds with one another. With the U.S. and Russia hostile to each other, there are deepening divisions between the U.S. and Europe and what’s called the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Where is the future of economic power in this tense time?
“There's a split between the United States and Europe on the one hand and pretty much most of the rest of the world- maybe not Japan and Australia, there are a few that are allied. But most countries are not. They are splitting from the West in ways we have not seen before, and the war in Ukraine is showing it, exposing it and deepening it. So, if you have a sense of a world coming apart, changing, splitting- Ukraine is a big part of how that is evolving.”
Wolff explains the splits that are showing up in Europe- from Brexit, to French elections and immigration debates. European nationalism is being used to distract workers and is preventing the continent from contesting for economic power.
“The Europeans are also smart folks, and they understand they're at a turning point in the world. They know the splits I’ve spoken of. They're acutely aware of them.”
And in the United States, cultural splits are being created instead of addressing real economic divisions. While Democrats work to silence socialism and destroy workers movements, workers are turning in desperation to what’s available to them: abortion, imposing religions, and confusing Trump’s agenda for the promise of good jobs.
“They want to have the culture if they can't have the economic security. Culture is the war place, but capitalism is the war. It's fought out in these cultural splits, and like the war in Ukraine and like the fight between the United States and Russia, it can end the world.”
Wolff leaves us with a simple message: capitalism is a system built on maximizing profit, and the side effects of that ramify throughout politics and culture. The consequences of a divisive system is now eating away at the people and the foundations of the economy that produced them. But there’s an alternative story to these splits…
“And this presentation today is part of that alternative story whose whole point and purpose is to change the system by seeing how the splits teach us, as they fragment this system. where its weak points are, where its issues of vulnerability lie, where the movements are that if we support, and encourage, and strengthen them, can turn the splitting and the breaking down of an old world into a much better, new one.”
But we mustn't be afraid of criticizing capitalism anymore if we want to intervene and change the splits into a movement for a democratic economy.
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