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On this week's show, Prof. Wolff discusses how Amazon rips off small business and squeezes workers, US and China's military tactics, top mainstream economists grasp the deepening critique of capitalism, and how strikes at Nabisco and Kellogg expose capitalism's classic contours of class struggle. The second half of the show features an interview with Prof Talia Lugacy on her new independent film This is Not a War Story released by Warner Media HBO Max.
Lugacy: "Their anti-war position came down ultimately to this realization that they were just a very small part of a much larger system that needed them to function in a certain way and needed them to have that experience. They needed meat for the grinder, essentially, for the system to continue. And once the the veteran understood themselves in that context, the internal burden kind of shifted for them because it becomes a collective burden at that point”
In this episode of ACC, Prof. Harvey talks about the real players in our capitalist society who operate outside of the market system and are accumulating massive amounts of wealth. Players like Carlos Slim, the Koch brothers, Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of Blackstone, reside in the "attic," where Harvey argues real wealth and real power are being assembled.
Harvey: "They're outside of the market system, but they're accumulating wealth power and capital hand over fist. So, when people talk about the new feudalism, I think what they're doing is responding to the fact that there is indeed a new structure in society. Or, not a new structure but in a sense, it's probably an old structure. But, it's becoming more disaggregated, more clearly distinct that the real wealth, the billionaire's wealth, is up there in “the attic”, and they're making more wealth simply by dealing with each other at the same time."
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "I am informed that during the era of COVID 19, a small oligopoly of shipping companies have used their market power to increase the cost of shipping by a large factor, of over 10:1. This is starting to cause crises and shortages in other parts of the world economy. My question comes in 3 parts: 1)Is this a real effect (or have I been misinformed) 2) What are the main effects of this crisis in shipping and 3) How is it likely to end?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “Any economic system is judged, and quite rightly, by how well it prepares and how well, therefore, it copes with those things that we don't know exactly when they'll come. But we know that sooner or later the storms, the wars, the viruses, the climate changes will do what they have always done in human history. So, here comes the pandemic, and capitalism did not prepare for it and couldn't cope with it.”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "It is my impression that all left wing economists including Marx agree that capitalism was an improvement over feudalism. Could you please elaborate in what ways capitalism was an improvement? Could you point me to any previous videos or books on this topic, or material easy to understand? I think we should all reflect on this question in this age when we seem to be regressing back to feudalism." This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “The last great transition from one class structure, from one economic system to another was the transition from feudalism to capitalism… The relationships, the rules were clear to everybody. Capitalism, as Marx once said, destroys all of that, replaces all of these human relationships understood culturally and politically into a market nexus: a situation where everything is about the money you can get and the position in society that money will allow you to buy. All that had become clear and known and in Marx's words- solid, dispersed, fell apart, became unclear, vague, impermanent in the way that capitalist markets always made them.”
In this Wolff Responds, Prof. Wolff responds to Elon Musk's opposition to the proposed billionaire's tax. Wolff highlights the ways in which billionaires have consistently utilized their wealth to manipulate the political system and shift the burden of tax onto the people.
Wolff: “Mr. Musk, who is a billionaire (and it’s always been the billionaires who use their money to get the politicians to shift the burden of tax off of them on to everybody else), wants to use that which they did as an argument that we don't even try to tax them. Because if you tax them, they'll just shift it on to the rest of us. Wow.”
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