Weekly Roundup: June 1, 2022

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work.

New this week: Economic Update, Capitalism Hits Home, Cities After..., Global Capitalism, Ask Prof Wolff & Wolff Responds...

Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!


Economic Update: Capitalism's Flaws Fester

Prof. Wolff discusses today's US child care workers' crisis; how sanctions on Russia profit fossil fuel companies and worsen pollution; systemic causes of the US infant formula shortage; how food corp executives helped write Trump's 2020 order keeping Covid-plagued meatpacking plants operating; meat price inflation vs. general US inflation; and how cryptocurrencies (including "stablecoins") are as unstable as money has historically been.

Wolff: "​This is a failure of the system to provide something. Something fundamental. It's a failure of a system to say, especially if they force women to take pregnancies to term, we're not going to help you take care of that child."

Capitalism Hits Home: Connection - The Foundation of Mental Health

Dr. Fraad discusses mental health through the lens of a 4-legged table of connection: intimate relationships, friends, larger groups such as PTAs, work, or political groups, and connection to your country and shared humanity with the world. Under capitalism, Fraad explains, each leg of the table is made very shaky. With abuse, alcoholism, crime, and suicide all going up, as well as unemployment and illness rising, it’s clear that our social fabric is breaking down. Cooperation and connection, the most important contributors to mental health, aren’t protected under capitalism. In a system that allows for such deprivation, our only antidotes are to have hope and create connection through political activeness, strikes, unionizations, and more. Hope is not passive, it can be an active way to build a better world.

Fraad: "Connection on every level is an antidote, and also belief in a future. And Hope is an antidote against that poison. And hope comes not from passivity but from saying this is wrong, and I'm going to do something about it. People all over America are doing that."

Cities After… Lessons for Collective Action from La PAH’s Fight for Housing Rights

This week we want to introduce the first Cities After…Grassroots Special, a quarterly series in which Prof. Robles-Durán speaks with core members of grassroots social movements about critical lessons from their work in the streets and the many projects they are pursuing to fight for the right to the city.

For the inaugural episode, Robles-Durán spoke with Santiago Mas De Xaxas Faus, João França, Delia Ccerare Paniora and Maka Suarez, four core members of Spain's most successful housing movement: La PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca, translated as The Platform for People Affected by Mortgages). They speak about their recently published La PAH: A Handbook—A manual that offers ideas, based on their 13 years of experience, for ways of organizing, mobilizing people, empowering people, and building networks between social movements and organizations, specifically in regards to the right to affordable and decent housing for all.

La PAH: “If you are a grassroots organization and you want to do an action against Blackstone in your town, then contact us… and then they will start to listen… This can be the seed of doing more things together.”

Global Capitalism: The Socialism That Focuses Too Much on Government 

Prof Wolff shares a history of Marxism and why "the government" became a large focus for those trying to create socialism. Learning from the past, he says we need to return to Marx's original focus: the organization of the workplace.

Wolff: “​​The new Marxism, the one that I am quite confident now will become the Marxism of the 21st century, will be different from the one inherited from the 19th and 20th. It will, in a step forward, include going back to Marx's focus at the micro level: his focus on a transformation of the workplace, what we call the democratization of the workplace.”

Ask Prof Wolff: How Worker Co-ops Handle Bankruptcy

A Supporter of Democracy at Work asks: "The concept of the productive worker being both employer and employee in all areas is brilliant and necessary to overcome the injustice of the potentially dangerous and egregious financial disparity between that of the upper earning and the lower earning citizens. However, not all such businesses will succeed. How is this scenario resolved?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.

Wolff: “Here's the difference in a nutshell: in a worker co-op economy the focus is on the worker… The first thing that happens is that all the workers in the affected business are protected. Their income is maintained, and they are helped to find alternative employment.”

Ask Prof Wolff: Gas Taxes and Inflation

A Patron of Economic Update asks: "Dear Professor Wolff, can you speak about the advisability of cutting gas taxes in Indiana to alleviate the effects of inflation?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.

Wolff: “For rich people an inflation is an irritation at best, but for middle and low income people it makes a world of difference. So, it is not a neutral problem. It's a problem that hits the middle and the bottom the worst, and that's why we shouldn't allow it, and we wouldn't have to.”

Wolff Responds: Why Economic Policy = Class Struggle

Prof. Wolff underscores the importance of calling US “economic policy” what it really is: class struggle. The current inflation, as well as the Federal Reserve’s choice to raise interest rates, is hurting the working class significantly more than the employer class. This is class struggle—the 1% vs the 99%—because if employers struggle economically, they can raise prices while keeping employees’ wages stagnant throughout the inflation. In this struggle, Prof. Wolff reminds us, there are alternatives the government can do to control the inflation and we should not be fooled when they say otherwise.

Wolff: “You can keep calling this economic policy, and you can keep pretending that there's no alternative to what is being done. But those are not the truth. And the truth is you ought to be honest enough to say our economy is spinning out of control, this way and that, and what we peculiarly discover is the government's policy happens to be very good for the tiny minority of employers and very, very ungood for everybody else.”

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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