Check out the latest content from Democracy at Work.
This week, Prof Wolff answered three interesting Ask Prof Wolff questions from EU patrons. First, he answered a question from the owner of a real estate company that provides rental housing, who wondered what their business might look like in a socialst economy. Next, he answered a question from a worker at a grocery delivery company, concerned about how capitalist competition will affect their job prospects. Finally, Prof Wolff gave a clarification as to how both markets and private property have and can continue to exist in socalist economies.
Additionally, Prof Wolff created two Wolff Responds videos. The first argues that countries with stronger socialst influences have handled the COVID-19 pandemic better than those with authoritarian governments (like the U.S., Brazil, and Russia). The second explains that high unemployment has psychological effects that are not conducive to needed behaviors that will help overcome this pandemic.
The latest episode of David Harvey’s Anti-Capitalist Chronicles, “Race and Class,” talks about the integration of race and class. He argues that wealthy elites in the US have weaponized white racism to gain political power and amass excessive wealth and that integrating class and race will be an important and powerful driver of change.
In this week’s Economic Update, “The Pandemic's Lesson About Capitalism,” Prof Wolff says that the lesson from this pandemic is that many basic social needs are needed, like public health, and we cannot, need not, and should not rely on capitalists to meet them. One by one, he advocates for the following sectors should not be driven by profit motives: health, food, mass transit, the care for elderly, energy, and education.
July 2 - Capitalism Hits home
July 6 - Economic Update: Europe's New Internationalist Left with Yanis Varoufakis
AskProfWolff: How will Socialism Affect the Rental Housing Market?
“It would be a strange argument to say that because that's a difficulty or because that takes time that those are reasons not to do it. If we had looked at it that way we might not have made a revolution against the British in America to have our own country we might not have gotten rid of slavery to have a system where people are at least legally free etc etc. It takes time to adjust to new conditions and you need to have new conditions if you are hoping for people's mentality to change.”
AskProfWolff: Squeezing Workers to Remain Competitive
“When unemployment comes, especially when it's large, sudden and no one knows how long it will last, employers suddenly have an opportunity. They have an advantage and it will be a rare employer who does not take advantage of it… So yes, in most cases employers will take advantage of the downturn to make the problems for working people even harder than they were before. And even the employers who wouldn't do it discover that their competitors are doing it, and so in a sense they have to go along or they’ll be driven out of business. It’s not the particular employer, it’s the system.”
AskProfWolff: Markets and Private Property in a Socialist Society
“The kinds of private property that were restricted in socialist societies were what they call private property in the means of production. In other words, not in the things you consume (your car, your home, your toothbrush, and all of that) but in things that are used to produce other goods and services. For example land, factory, buildings, office buildings, computers to be used in a business of one kind or another, machinery equipment for the production of other goods and services… It's really the same story they always used markets they restricted them they made some markets limited to the state it controlled them but many markets private markets existed in the Soviet Union many private markets exist in the People's Republic of China in Cuba in Vietnam and so on they made use of markets.”
Wolff Responds: Europe Fights COVID-19 Better than US
“[The John Hopkins University] listed the four countries with the largest number of people infected already, and here they are: 1) The United States, 2) Brazil, 3) Russia and 4) India. What do those four countries have in common, besides having terrible problems with the coronavirus? Each of those four has an extremely authoritarian government: Trump, Bolsonaro, Putin, Modi.”
Wolff Responds: The Dangers of High Unemployment
“Because we have treated our working class so badly, made them so anxious and desperate that they will come back to work too soon, and back to school too soon, back to church too soon because they want so desperately to get back to where they were. Because they rightly expect things are getting worse and worse.”
Anti-Capitalist Chronicles: Race and Class
“If you put race and class together, you will have a revolution. The bringing together of race and class is the one thing that the ruling class of the United States is incredibly fearful of.”
Economic Update: The Pandemic's Lesson About Capitalism
"So what is the lesson that this pandemic of the coronavirus can teach us, if only we'll learn it? That there are all kinds of things, fundamental basic things in a society like ours, that need not be and should not be handled as private profit enterprise activities because it doesn't work out well for us."