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On this week's show, Prof. Wolff presents updates on his recent debate with Ayn Rand Institute on capitalism vs socialism, inflation in Europe, an analysis of right vs left splitting in US today, and real vs fake causes of energy price inflation. The second half of the show features an interview with David McNally, Prof. University of Houston, on lessons of capitalism's history.
David McNally: "I think when we begin to look at money, not as a convenience created for individuals but as a technology of power and domination, it allows us then to think about, "Well, what would a society without relations of exploitation and domination look like? And would it revolve around money? Would we have to have money as the regulator of all transactions for food, housing, health care etc?" And my argument is no."
Prof Wolff talks about the different ways we can understand socialism: is it the government or is it a democratic control of our economy? He then uses a story about Lenin to reflect on the current economy in China. Will they begin to organize the economy democratically?
Wolff: “So, you have a mixture of state and private capitalism. But Lenin's question stands. Will you, are you in the process, do you have plans for the transformation of this kind of still capitalist economic system to something fundamentally different? And that fundamental means the radical, democratic reorganization of the factory, the office and the store.”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "A "great" jobs report was released today; the stock market soared. I'm skeptical. I see that of those 531,000 "jobs added," a great many are in relatively low-wage sectors such as Leisure & Hospitality, Retail, etc. - how many will we learn in January were merely seasonal? Meanwhile, per the report, "the number of permanent job losers, at 2.1 million, changed little in October but is 828,000 higher than in February 2020." The Workforce participation rate is unchanged. Inflation's up and product is not on store shelves. So how "great" IS this job report and economic health generally?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: “The doctor looks at you, looks at your blood, looks at your breathing, does an x-ray- you know, does all kinds of things to begin to balance the information from one test, from one measurement to get an overall sense. That's exactly what economics requires. If you're lucky, you have a doctor whose major concern is to tell you how healthy you are or aren't and to prescribe medication and so forth. The problem with the economy is we have no equivalent of the doctor. We have people with a big, big axe to grind.”
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "I’ve also been listening to Michael Parenti quite a bit, and I think he’s right to focus on how we have materially benefitted from being an empirical world power. I think this is an important area to explore when it comes to developing a consciousness of the exploitation of the Global South, and I would love your perspective as an economist. Could you explore the connection between the U.S. empire and economy, and share historical moments that you find particularly effective in illustrating to others that our wealth as a nation is built off the backs of others?" This is Professor Richard Wolff's video response.
Wolff: "In order not, therefore, to be militarily active around the world, becoming a scourge, and a burden, and a threat, you would have to face the fact that a fundamental economic reorganization is necessary in the United States. Because, the dependency, like an addiction, on empire runs very deep in capitalism and always has.”
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