Weekly Roundup: February 15, 2023

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work.

New this week: How to speak to people on the right, the relevance of Marx, university econ today, abusing surplus

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!

Economic Update: Unionization, Marxism and Education

Prof. Wolff shares updates on Starbucks union growth, Texas journalists and Yale graduate students/employees unionizing & winning, Western Mass Labor Federation denouncing Biden's denial of railway workers' right to strike, and two major kinds of US tax injustice. In the second half of the show, Wolff interviews Notre Dame Professor Emeritus David F. Ruccio on Marxian economics, its absence from US universities, and its social insights.

Ruccio: “Most economics departments around the country where students don't learn economic history. They don't learn the history of economic thought. They certainly don't learn Marxian economics or many of the other alternatives. They learn just one way of doing and thinking about economics. And it’s a shame, and it means that we end up with, in terms of economics, a kind of illiterate population.”

Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: Applying Marx’s Theories to Contemporary Struggles

Prof. Harvey focuses on the concept of totality, conceptualized in Marx’s Grundrisse, and the importance of situating theoretical frameworks within on-the-ground struggles. Harvey explains how he’s spent his life’s work attempting to do this, focusing on issues such as housing, climate change, and more. Marx and Engel’s theoretical contributions are critical, but it is in the tangible application of them that the true benefits are realized.

Harvey: "The framework that Marx sets up for capital, it provided such a intuitively interesting and fascinating way in which to approach a social problem. And as long as you didn't say it had anything to do with Marx, you could really get away with it."

Ask Prof Wolff: Understanding Surplus & Capitalism’s Abuse of It

A supporter of Democracy at Work asks: "Can there be another segment about surplus and economic sinks? If capital has to increase all the time, why is there a surplus? And if there is a surplus, why can't we spend it on social programs like health care and infrastructure?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response. To learn how to ask your own questions to Prof Wolff, click here.

Wolff: “The concept of surplus is crucial and central. And I do believe it is exactly as I've defined it: that extra that the human community has always produced more and more over time as it becomes more productive. But I'm not in favor of giving it to a small group of people called the employers, a tiny minority by the way in our society. The vast majority of us are the producers of surplus and a tiny minority of us get it. That's one of the flaws of capitalism in my judgment.”


Ask Prof Wolff: How To Get People on the Right to Hear Your Arguments

A supporter of Democracy at Work asks: "The war of ideas is real and, as often as I can, I engage with opposing ideas. From my perspective, I find that socialistic approaches to most social/economic issues check the box of many of the purported ideals of my more/less conservative neighbors, however, I cannot pierce the armor of their preconceptions. I'm tired of blaming their propaganda consumption. I want to affect their actions, not blame their cause. How can we overcome this deterrence? The cold hard merit of my arguments is not enough to overcome their insulation. Is there a better tactic for day-to-day arguments than relying on the merit of my arguments to bear fruit?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response. To learn how to ask your own questions to Prof Wolff, click here.

Wolff: “In struggle, arguments are more important, reach people more effectively, motivate people… If you want to have your arguments more powerful, think about helping one another. Develop group efforts. Bring in other people who can listen now to your argument in a new frame as a collective.”

Learn more about d@w latest book, Stuck Nation: Can the United States Change Course on Our History of Choosing Profits Over People?

by Bob Hennelly





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