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This week on Economic Update, Prof Wolff presents updates on Amazon workers' strike, the impact of US inflation, and the underappreciated economic aspects of Russia-Ukraine war. In the second half of the show, Wolff interviews Prof. Joerg Rieger on Christian Socialism, past and present.
Rieger: "Since about 100 years now- maybe 80, 90 years- a lot of money has been spent on shaping conservative Christianity in the image of capitalism, making it ever more conservative.
“The one sector of government that doesn’t experience austerity is the military budget.” Prof. Harvey looks at the role of military expenditures in contemporary capitalism in the US and how it affects the rest of the world. From WWII to the Cold War, to the Iraq War, to the current Russian War on Ukraine, the US has consistently found ways to justify expanding the military budget, while shrinking almost every other government sector. But who benefits from this constant expansion? As Harvey reveals, it’s the politicians who represent locales with military bases and the corporations like Lockheed Martin and Boeing, that provide the military supplies and equipment.
Harvey: "We get this push to try to bring in all of those states which had been part of the Soviet bloc into NATO. We get this urge and push to expand NATO. This was in some ways a crazy idea."
Larry, Cinar, and Kevin dive into the issue of leisure as it relates to both our current capitalist system and a future cooperative society. What does leisure look like under capitalism and how does it function? What does it mean for our non-work lives and interests to be commodified? The ATC guys explore what leisure could look like in a more cooperative society.
Cinar: “If that commodity consideration isn't there at the end of the day, in a cooperative society, if profit maximization is not the main goal, leisure just takes on a different meaning. It's more of a process in which people maybe can engage a little bit more rather than to consume, let's say. The exact kind of opposite of what we have right now.”
Prof Wolff debunks the most common scapegoats we hear when there is an inflation, and shows us the real issue when profit-driven enterprises set the prices.
Wolff: “An inflation moves wealth from the buyer to the seller. That's what it's for, and they know you might be angry about that. You might decide that you are being ripped off... That might make you upset because you'd be confronted with that reality. It's bad for you to pay more, and it's good for them to get you to do it. So, the capitalist class, when there's an inflation, becomes very loud about scapegoating somebody else.”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "I have always been interested in how workers would build personal wealth and assets in a socialist society like how they usually do in capitalism. What would personal investments look like?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “The reality is socialist societies give you less need and less motivation to save on a personal level, and in the end, it will depend on the social totality how secure you are.”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "Can you be both a Marxist and a market socialist and, if so, how?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff:“You could still allow the worker co-ops to deal with one another in a market-buy-sell relationship. That would be a kind of market socialism. Perhaps the best way to respond is to say that a transformation of the workplace and a market could coexist with one another. You'd have to adjust them as every system has, so that they don't undo each other but coordinate and reinforce one another.”
Learn more about [email protected] latest book, Stuck Nation: Can the United States Change Course on Our History of Choosing Profits Over People?
by Bob Hennelly