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This program begins by analyzing the political monopoly (aka "The Center") operated by the GOP and Dems in the US: its organization and dominance until the last few years. The monopoly deteriorates as both GOP and Dem coalitions suffer splits and cracks opening opportunities for radical political shifts and perhaps new parties. The context of a declining US capitalism facing mounting unsolved social problems adds to the winds of change as do pressures to resort to repression. Wolff affirms that the Center cannot hold.
Wolff: “What is the center in the United States politically? It is a monopoly, a monopoly of two political parties, their establishments... And the two coalitions struggle to hold on to who they got and maybe bring in some of what the other ones got. And they do that to each other and it goes on and on. And it did for much of the post-World War II period pretty comfortably. But it's not working now...Why? Because the system isn't. Because of the goodies that can be handed out whoever is in power aren't as goody, aren't as big, aren't as available as they once were."
We are back with a new season of CHH! In this episode of CHH, Dr. Fraad explores the question of identity politics. Identity politics can be liberating for those whose identify as women, people of color, or LGBTQ members. Those identities need to be called out and claimed with pride. But Fraad asks why is our class identity excluded? Why limit and divide human beings when alliances can be made to create a powerful class identity movement that honors all of our identities?
Fraad: "Those identity politics that eliminate the identity as a working person, the person who works for a living rather than who lives off of his or her wealth, are huge, powerful identities. It's those identities that have been behind social movements and socialist movements from the start."
A patron of Economic Update asks: "I wondered if you could give your critique of the Nordic model, as practiced in for example Norway, Sweden and Denmark. I've heard American socialists speak warmly about these countries, but they clearly want to go further. What do you think are some pros and cons about this model, do you think it is a progressive step towards socialism, and how do we go further from the Nordic model?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “Capitalism is always changing, but so is socialism. And the understandings of socialism multiply and vary, and so do the social struggles as they determine which of these images of socialism to pursue to try to make the concrete reality of the future. Nordic socialism has taught people both what they can do and what they must do in the future to carry forward the idea that lies behind all socialisms: that capitalism is something that the human race can do better than, and we ought to be debating and struggling to do exactly that.”
A patron of Economic Update asks: "Are private-profit economies permanent? How often are they recreated? What advice do you have for shattering mythical ideas around capitalist permanence?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “To say that an enterprise should be driven by profit, that profit is its goal, that profit is its bottom line is to give an exclusive privilege to a tiny minority who gather the profits into their own hands, becoming thereby the richest people in the society and the powerful elite that runs it. Don't be fooled. For them to say that private profit is built into human nature, is permanent, is a desperate effort to make their fleeting historical moment at the top last forever.”
Prof. Wolff responds to the recent decision by half of US states to cease providing workers with the extra $300/week, originally meant to continue through Labor Day 2021. This is a shameless tactic by employers and the politicians they have bought, Wolff asserts, to simply force Americans back to work into jobs they would not have otherwise accepted at very low wages. The Democrats, Biden and the American Labor movement all remain silent despite the unfair and cruel action taken by 25 states.
Wolff: “Half the states in this country are going to force people back to work by depriving them of the money they needed to get through a combination of an economic crash and the worst public health disaster in a century in the United States. Shame is not a strong enough word.”
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!