Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work!
On this week's show, Prof. Wolff discusses the immense social waste of today's US unemployment the Trump ban on investments in Chinese companies, new global organization for worker co-ops, and higher education cuts in UK and US. The second half of the show features an interview with Niki Okuk, South Central LA activist fighting for community control of downtown Crenshaw Mall.
Wolff: “Mr Trump will not allow private investors to hold shares of Chinese companies. Meanwhile, he is shipping to China tens of billions of dollars in interest, from the United States, paid for by taxpayers. And you know what the Chinese are free to do with the tens of billions in interest we pay them? They can use it for their military, which they no doubt have partly at least done. So you're not cutting off the military. You're in fact financing it."
Okuk: "We knew that this [development] was actually just going to tip the scale towards further gentrification in the neighborhood... In that Ted Talk in 2017 I had even posed the question, could we build something like Mondragon in South Central? Could we create an ecosystem of cooperatives that would create employment for us and wealth for us and give us self-determination and sovereignty? And all of us who have lived here have passed it every day of our lives. And we thought nobody can have this but us. It belongs to us and we have to continue to fight for it and hold the line."
On this week's show, Dr. Fraad and Julianna Forlano discuss the difference between the life of a Walmart worker with that of a Mondragon worker. Some folks say that socialism inhibits creativity while capitalism enhances competition which spurs creativity. That is not the case. In our capitalist nation, the mass of workers come home depleted and disempowered by work days that are long, boring, and anything but creatively empowering.
Harriet: "Nurturance is important. Having opportunities are important. And those things should not be allocated depending on the amount of money your parents have. They should be there for everyone."
Julianna: "If workers own the means of production via the co-ops... It seems like if you have a stake in the company that is what would bring out your creative spark."
On this episode of David Harvey's Anti-Capitalist Chronicles, Prof, Harvey argues that what is being done politically to deal with the propagation of the virus excludes the social circumstances in which propagation of the virus occurs. There is a long history of rule by experts, scientists who are supported by state apparatuses. Their solutions are flawed because they do not take into account the totality of the social and economic circumstances of the populations affected.
Harvey: "It's all very well to talk about masks and social distancing. But one of the ways in which we can prevent a virus spreading is to make sure that people in the Bronx have adequate living standards."
All Things Co-op welcomes Esteban Kelly, the Executive Director for the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives for a fascinating glimpse into the work of USFWC, and his thoughts on both national and international strategies for growth in the cooperative movement. Esteban talks USFWCs education and training and their advocacy and organizing work, how they measure their success, and much more.
Kelly: "I think in some countries there's a lot more, sort of, lopsided industry that we're seeing. So for example if you just look just north in Quebec there's a massive concentration of worker cooperatives, yet it's overwhelmingly concentrated in the forestry industry and then a ton of cooperatives who are EMTs... In Argentina it's a lot of manufacturing. Part of that was tied to the economic crisis at the end of 2001 into 2002 and the takeover of factories... in Northern Italy, there's a massive concentration in service sector cooperatives. So they have these social co-ops that are sort of a hybrid of sometimes religious sometimes government programs... So having a sense of those kinds of things like what does it look like to scale a particular model, or a certain industry, is just really really different."
A Patron of Economic Update asks: "What is economic growth? Where does it come from, why can capitalism not go without it, why does it still come up in describing the accomplishments of the soviet union? Most importantly, is it possible to imagine a society without the need for economic growth, and if so how do we get there?"
Wolff: “In capitalism one of the starkest qualities it shows (quite different from feudalism or slavery or other systems) is a kind of hysterical growth. We're now facing as a planet one of the dire consequences of this baked in drive to grow. We have despoiled nature, we have ripped up our forests, our oceans, our air, our water in order to grow, to the point that we feel threatened in terms of global warming in terms of the climate crisis… People whose livelihoods, businesses, their whole way of living is wrapped up with a growth driven profit driven capitalism begin to understand that really dealing with the environment questioning growth is questioning the capitalist system around which they build their lives. And they're either not willing or not able to do that.”
In this Wolff Responds, Prof. Wolff argues that the political rivalry between the Democrats and the Republicans will prevent any real change from taking place. With tens of millions unemployed and in danger of being evicted from their homes, the 2 large parties are ever more disconnected from the way this world actually works.
Wolff: “The mass of people are in unspeakable difficulty. Will they get help? It doesn't look like it. Why not? Because the two parties can't figure out a joint plan that doesn't hurt one or the other of them in ways they won't accept… The economy is collapsing. The two major political parties’ basic approach is to try to make hay out of that situation by blaming the other party. Changing the situation? Solving it? Nah. That's the last thing they dare to try to do since solving the problem now requires you to help the mass of people and neither party has much appetite or capacity to do that.”
Dec 10 - Capitalism Hits Home
Dec 14 - Economic Update
Dec 15 - All Things Co-op
Learn more about Prof Wolff's latest book, The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself, that is available now!