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This week on Economic Update, Prof. Wolff discusses the new US program for monthly child benefits; why Covid strengthens some and divides other nations; the myth of "labor shortage;" the real cost of ultra-luxury cruises; Uber and sexual assaults; and lastly, the outsized US costs of healthcare.
Wolff: "All I want you to do is to think with me what those smart people and what those huge resources could have done for this country, could have done for the housing our homeless don't have, for the educational support our students need, for the infrastructure we talk about all the time, to do something about the climate that threatens us. No, no, no, no, no. All those resources were used instead for a rocket ship competition and for a cruise in four years that costs you between seventy three thousand and two hundred thousand dollars a ticket. What kind of economic system is this, and how can you possibly justify it?"
In this episode of ACC, Prof. Harvey examines Marx’s use of the notion of abstractions to develop a general theory of capital and his critique of capitalism. Harvey identifies different levels of abstraction used by Marx: scale, perspective of production, perspective of circulation and distribution and the contradictions that exist between production and circulation. Marx, Harvey asserts, also differentiates between the concrete abstractions of a capitalist system, such as price of commodities and wages rates, and theoretical abstractions, the behavior of capitalists who are endlessly driven by competition and the quest for profits.
Harvey: “The abstract rules which get set up through capital, as capital sets them up, are very powerful in terms of regulating what happens in terms of the prices of things, of the interest rate and all those kinds of things. So, the abstractions which come to dominate us are those which capital creates in the course of its own evolution and its own becoming and its own structures."
A patron of Economic Update asks: "[T]he Marxist in me feels that the word 'classism' is also some kind neoliberal aerosol to make social class merely a function of prejudice or a lack equal opportunity or something. I am wondering if you could shine a more analytical light on my intuition or refute it as the case may be." This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “I don't use classist as a critical idea. I don't think I've done all that much when I pinpoint a person as being in this class or that class. I’m not really all that interested in where the individual fits. I'm more interested in understanding the system into which we all fit in our different roles. I'm very interested in the class structure and the class differences, but that's in order to understand and change society.”
A patron of Economic Update asks: "On the subject of Fascism, Benito Mussolini said 'Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power.' Given the nature of the relationship between the US government, particularly the (both Democrats and Republicans, Biden, Trump, Obama, Bush, Clinton etc.) POTUS/Administration and Congress, with lobbyists and corporations, is it fair to say that the USA is fascist and has been for a long time?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “When, despite its best efforts in the school, in the public domain, in politics to keep people happy with capitalism, that isn't working real well. When that doesn't work anymore, then the governments in capitalism tend toward fascism. In other words, the private capitalists no longer can have even the semblance of an independent government. They do want a merger. They want the state to work all the time, full time, out in the open to secure and reproduce capitalism.”
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