Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!
This program covers the origins, evolution, and current significance of "communism." After a brief history of communism as a utopian ideal of community, we treat Marx's presentation in the Communist Manifesto, and then communism's subordination to "socialism" to World War 1. That War changed everything. It split socialists everywhere into a Socialist Party and a Communist Party with key differences but also commonalities. When most European communist parties collapsed, socialism once again became the only major systemic left position. Yet the utopian longings expressed by communism left many on the left dissatisfied with modern socialisms. They searched for a possible solution, a new kind of communism located in workplaces organized as democratic, worker co-op.
Wolff: “If we transform the workplace, which the socialists and the communists never did, we will be able to achieve what they set out as their goal but they never achieved either, which is the breakthrough to a new society.”
Dr. Fraad draws on her therapeutic expertise to discuss psychological mechanisms people unconsciously rely on when facing a reality that is too much to bear. These tools—dissociation, denial, and projection—can happen in both our personal and political lives. Fraad looks at personal traumas from clients as well as societal traumas, such as war and police brutality, to explore how commonly humans rely on dissociation, denial, and projection to not face hard truths. In order to heal, both personally and as a society, however, we must learn to look at and call out these injustices. These psychological mechanisms serve an important purpose for survival, but the realities still exist and continue to take a toll.
Fraad: “[Trump] projects their rage and hatred onto people different from them, and that allows people to express their sense of being cheated and lied to but still support the basic capitalist politics that Trump arranges.”
Prof. Robles-Durán talks about the most significant delusional solution to Climate change to date: The Circular Economy, an economic framework that highlights enormous business opportunities in the reuse and recycling of commodities while it claims to save the planet from ecological collapse. What seems like a win-win scenario for environmentally conscious capitalists might not be what it projects.
Robles-Durán: “The popularity of the circular economy gloomily reveals a world lead to annihilation by enthusiastically blind and thirsty money hounds that will never accept or understand that the capitalist logic they champion is the very thing that is destroying all life on this planet.”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "I noticed that in the Merriam-Webster dictionary result on Google Search for the word Marxism it listed antonyms as democracy, self-governance, self-government, self-rule. This seems very off and yet it comes from such a reputable source. Marxism is not by any stretch the opposite of democracy unless it’s hijacked and distorted e.g. Stalin, Mao, etc. Why is the number one dictionary on the number one search engine continuing to say Marxism is the opposite of democracy?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “There are no votes inside an enterprise, and let's remember, inside an enterprise (the workplace) is where most adults in our modern, capitalist society spend most of their lives… Work is the center of your life, one of the most important places you live out your life, and if democracy is banished from there, well then how much is capitalism a democratic system? Only on a very limited basis, sort of like Athens long ago. Therefore, Marxism can't possibly be understood as being the opposite of democracy. That really better fits capitalism as the reality we live in. Marxism is a philosophy. Marxism is a way of thinking critically about capitalism.”
Prof. Wolff talks about the devastating water crisis afflicting people globally. Specifically, he highlights the recent disasters in Jackson, Mississippi, Flint, Michigan, Pakistan and Ukraine. Access to safe, clean drinking water is a basic necessity and human right, and yet, it is one that continues to be denied to the poorest communities. Wolff argues that the capitalist system, with its endless pursuit of profits, places the burden on the most vulnerable. Government policies favor the wealthy corporations and enable human suffering that is largely avoidable.
Wolff: “We are watching spectacles of suffering that are dangerous [and] perfectly avoidable if the commitment is made not to allow the rules of capitalism, serving the rich and the corporations first and everybody else with whatever is left over. Those rules have to be challenged and suspended if we are going to do better in the face of these disasters.”
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