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Prof. Wolff shows how the economics of existing capitalist and socialist economies make use of both markets and planning. The opposition of markets and planning is largely false and has worked to distract students and observers of economic systems from better differentiations such as how they differently organize their workplaces: hierarchical in the case of capitalist, democratic in the case of worker cooperatives. Some major implications of this critique of the "planning versus market" obsession are discussed in relation to the US, Soviet Union, and China.
Wolff: “Don't make use of a dichotomy that isn't there and never was. It was an ideological battle. The United States and the Soviet Union were at opposite ends of a political fight. And when that happens, you tend to demonize the other side... If planning versus markets isn't how you distinguish capitalism from socialism because they're both combinations in various proportions, then let me offer you what is a much better alternative way of thinking about this, because the differences get clear.”
Prof. Harvey explores the relationship between markets and the state. Drawing on examples such as Britain in the 1970s, France in 1981 under Mitterrand, and Bill Clinton in the 1990s, Harvey argues that, under capitalism, the state is not sovereign and democracy cannot be fully realized, and what you instead have is the eroding of each. As many countries, including the US, move closer to authoritarian democracies, we must first confront this fusion of capital and state and then explore what the socialist response can be.
Harvey: “The stronger this relationship becomes between financial markets and politics, the stronger that relation becomes, the less we find a situation in which sovereignty is guaranteed and democracy is guaranteed. And what we have right now is a clear challenge to the perpetuation of the sovereignty of the state and also of the democracy of the state.”
Kevin chats with Professor and author Elizabeth Anderson about her book Private Government, which pushes back on the myth that a free market means workers are free. Most workplaces function like dictatorships, with their own private governments—employers—calling the shots. Kevin and Professor Anderson discuss these contradictions, the historical American ideal of self-employment, classical philosophers and economists such as John Stuart Mill, contract feudalism, co-determination, and more as they weave through an important conversation about the future of work and workplaces.
Anderson: “We still have this myth that anybody could be self-employed and thereby become their own bosses that I think has drawn American workers away from worker collectives as an alternative model.”
A Supporter of Democracy at Work asks "Can you comment on the upcoming merger between Kroger and Safeway-Albertsons? I live in Seattle where nearly all of the grocery stores are owned by those two companies. I'm concerned that the merger will create an effective monopoly and that my food costs will go even higher. Thanks!" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “Albertsons and Kroger is doing the same old dance. There's one objective: make more profit. Otherwise, they wouldn't have got together by merging. They don't get in trouble with anti-trust law because they're not making a private deal. They're literally combining into one company and that one company can do pretty much whatever it wants because it hasn't gotten any more competition of the sort that was there when there were two.”
A Supporter of Democracy at Work asks "It’s often said as an argument against democracy that Hitler’s Nazi party was democratically elected. Is that true? How should we reconcile a belief in democracy with the fact that sometimes democracy can lead to evil people being elected?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “You can have bad outcomes, but there are things you can do to minimize them. And two of the most important are to allow people the time, to provide the support, to give them a paycheck if they do it, to learn and become informed. Then, they'll make the decisions that serve their interests and will not allow anyone to terrorize or manipulate them either by military force or police or media or any of the ways that you undermine democracy as we're seeing in our world all so clearly. The mere presence or absence of an election tells you nothing.”
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