Weekly Roundup: May 26th, 2021

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work.

New this week: Economic Update, Anti-Capitalist Chronicles, Capitalism Hits Home, Cities After..., Ask Prof Wolff, and Wolff Responds...


Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!


Economic Update: Labor & Capitalism's Rise & Fall

On this week's show, Prof. Wolff discusses Congress Bills H.R.51 giving statehood to Washington, DC, and H.R.1 countering GOP efforts to restrict voting; and Biden's tax reforms to help pay for new and expanded government programs. In the second half of the program, Wolff interviews Prof. Michael Hillard on the role of labor in the dramatic rise and fall of Maine's paper industry, a parable for the economic difficulties facing the US today.

Wolff: “[Since the founding of the United States] the idea was to limit the vote to a very small part of the population. So the notion of democracy was always qualified in the United States in ways that some today find downright embarrassing."

Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: The Legitimation Crisis of the late 1960s

In this episode of ACC, Prof. Harvey takes us through the political agitations that occurred in the US in the 1960s. The various social movements, the Civil Rights movement, the student movement, the labor movement, the women's movement and the anti-war movement challenged capitalism and corporate power, and questioned the legitimacy of the government. The anti-capitalist and anti-corporate sentiments that emerged prompted a counter-attack by the big monopoly companies who saw their power and wealth eroding.

Harvey: "They felt by 1975 that their power and their influence had been seriously compromised and they were determined to get it back... One of the ways was to get together and create something called the "Business Roundtable." The Business Roundtable comprised about 60% of the US GDP at the time, and they all sat together and said, "Okay, what are we gonna do?" There was a famous memo from Lewis Powell (who became a supreme supreme court justice) in which he said basically the anti-corporate thing has gone too far, we need to mobilize all of our powers against it."

Capitalism Hits Home: Violence - A Shield for Emotional Vulnerability

In this episode of CHH, Dr. Fraad discusses the most virulent examples of American violence: the US's world dominance in mass shootings and rape. She argues that violence converts the connection of people from their mutually acknowledged need for each other into a relationship of inequality, dominance and submission. The goal is to break all arbitrary and hierarchical divisions between people. That equality and mutuality will save America.

Fraad: "The mythology of the self-made man is just an utter bizarre notion that denies our dependency on and our need for each other."

Cities After… Housing & Real Estate Markets Around the Globe

In this episode, Prof. Robles-Durán talks about contradictions that have emerged during the global pandemic all around the world. Job losses, loss of livelihoods, homelessness, and evictions have dramatically increased in cities across the globe. However, the coronavirus crisis has also effected the creation of a tremendous amount of wealth for a small minority. While the economies of many countries report contractions, the real estate and luxury goods markets report record profits. Wealth is being concentrated at the very top. Prof. Robles-Durán explores both dystopian and utopian scenarios that can emerge from this new urban development paradigm.

Robles-Durán: “I always like to say that the city is the perfect mirror of capitalism. Capitalism today is showing a much more dramatic face than it did before the pandemic.”

Ask Prof Wolff: Rural America & Politics

A patron of Economic Update asks: "I have a very general question related to how to approach organizing a more cooperative future: How do we deal with the divisions that have been so skillfully sowed amongst us down to the local level?"

This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.

Wolff: “You as a critic of capitalism, if you are one, have a responsibility, if I dare go that far, to work where you are with the people around you- whom you know, and who see you as the neighbor you are- to offer a different way of thinking about what's happening and a different direction to pursue.”

Ask Prof Wolff: Economic Growth in the USSR & China

A patron of Economic Update asks: "You often mention the USSR as the fastest growing economy of the 20th century. However, I am often confronted with the latest Maddison Project 2020 data which says something quite different. From that data, it seems Japan is the fastest growing economy of the 20th century and I am not sure the USSR is even performing that extraordinarily. Since I am not in the field of Economics, would you be so kind as to indicate a source for Your claim? What is the time period we are looking at to compare the growth and determine the fastest growing economy? Should I be looking at different data sets altogether? Can we even meaningfully compare the economic performance of socialist and capitalist countries by GDP?"

This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.

Wolff: I want people to see- particularly in the audiences that I address, which have a tendency to dismiss the achievements of the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China as if somehow the criticisms of other aspects of these societies- some of which are perfectly well taken- somehow entitle you to pretend that what they achieved didn't happen, and that quote-unquote these experiments in socialism were failures. Even as a summary judgment, unqualified by reference to what they both prioritized and what they both achieved, would seem to be inadequate economic analysis at best and historical dishonesty at worst.”

Wolff Responds: Why We Have Inflation Now

In this Wolff Responds, Prof. Wolff explains what he believes is at play in the current inflationary experience of the US economy.  

Wolff: “In a capitalist system, the tiny minority of people who are employers, and who are therefore in the position to set prices, can choose to respond to extra money [in the economy] by raising prices and getting their extra profits that way. And if they do, more goods won't be sold and therefore, more jobs will not be created and prices in general will go up. And that will hurt all the people on fixed incomes you know, the people on a pension, the people trying to live in social security, the people who can't raise their income to match the rising prices- they have to pay. That's how capitalism works, and in the United States today, that's how it's working.”

Learn more about Prof Wolff's latest book, The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself.

Now also available as an eBook!






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