For the last 70+ years, the U.S. has inundated the American people with the message that capitalism is a magic formula for economic well being. This ideology thrives even despite clear indications over the last few decades that the profit system that once boosted the United States economy has been abandoning Americans.
What are these messages that keep this unjustified faith in capitalism so strong? Professor Wolff talked about some of them in a recent article entitled “How Capitalism’s Dogged Defenders and Propagandists Defend It From Criticism.”
In this piece, Professor Wolff discusses one particular technique used by defenders of capitalism: "For defenders, placing adjectives before the word ‘capitalism’ removes its core ‘relations of production’ from criticism. The focus of analytical attention becomes the adjective, not the noun."
Two examples: “crony capitalism” or “conscious capitalism.” Does this sound familiar to you? With a grammatical twist, your attention is diverted away from the root of the matter. It’s as easy as that.
“[Capitalism’s defenders] increasingly resort to attaching qualifying adjectives to capitalism and deflecting criticisms onto them. They say that the capitalism they support is a particular kind of capitalism… Many defenders go a step further: kinds of capitalism lacking those adjectives are not “really” capitalism at all. ”
Such tactics have been used time and time again. Those desperate to hold onto slavery argued the important differences between “harsh” versus “compassionate” slavery. Those clinging to monarchies would denounce “bad” Kings while arguing on behalf of “good” ones.
“The placing of qualifying adjectives to differentiate among kinds of capitalism allows defenders to accept some of the rising chorus of criticisms of capitalism. Those criticisms, defenders say, apply only to certain kinds of capitalism that defenders also reject in favor of some other, preferred kind of capitalism.”
This suffocating indoctrination is being unravelled, albeit slowly. The more we can clarify these distractions and hold the debate to the root of the matter, the more quickly we can move beyond the exploitation inherent in capitalism.
“Our current debates about our society’s problems and prospects need to refocus beyond the different adjectives for a common noun they qualify. It is time to expose and challenge capitalism’s core: that employer-employee organization of enterprises, private and state.”
Read the full article on Prof Wolff’s website, where you can also see up to date postings of some of his most recent media appearances.