The system is the problem.
Author Archive | Richard D. Wolff
The solution for capitalism’s problems requires transforming the capitalist workplace into democratic institutions where everyone has an equal say on what happens there.
Prof. Wolff responds to Jordan Peterson’s assertions about Marxism.
Government austerity for the masses (raising taxes and cutting public services) is becoming the issue shaping politics in western Europe, north America, and Japan. In the US, austerity turned millions away from the polls where before they supported an Obama who promised changes from such policies. So Republicans will control Congress and conflicts over austerity […]
Global capitalism has huge problems coping with the second worst collapse in its history. Its extreme and deepening inequalities have provoked millions to question and challenge capitalism. Yet socialists of all sorts now find it more difficult than ever to make effective criticisms and offer alternatives that inspire. Part of the problem lies with classic […]
Capitalism and real democracy never had much to do with one another. In contrast, formal voting in elections has worked nicely for capitalism. After all, elections have rarely posed, let alone decided, the question of capitalism: whether voters prefer it or an alternative economic system. Capitalists have successfully kept elections focused elsewhere, on non-systemic questions […]
The official death toll from the April collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which housed clothing factories, has now passed 1,100. How exactly will the staggering costs of that overwhelming tragedy be figured? Will they count as part of capitalism’s contribution to economic development across Asia, Africa, and Latin America? In capitalism’s […]
The truth about profits in the US is simple. Ed Dolan’s recent piece in Seeking Alpha contains a graph that makes it all too clear. First, it’s clear that profits as a percentage of total US GDP have recovered from the crash of 2008. Unemployment may still be over 50% higher than it was in […]
The depth and length of the global crisis are now clear to millions. In the sixth year since it started in late 2007, no end is in sight. Unemployment rates are now less than halfway back from their recession peak to where they were in 2007. Over 20 million are without work, millions more limited […]
Whatever electoral calculations drove Mitt Romney to choose Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate, the choice also has a deeper meaning. Ryan’s arrival at the top of the Republican Party represents the rise of the most vocal and visible proponent of austerity in US politics today. Ryan represents the US parallel to the regimes […]
Most Presidents preside over one or more capitalist downturns (recessions, depressions, crises, etc.). Every President since at least FDR generated a “program” to respond to the downturn — as demanded by citizens and businesses. FDR and every later President promised that his program would “not only extricate the US from the present economic troubles but […]
Over the weekend, Fitch — the major rating company that, with its fellow majors, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, dominate the business of assessing the riskiness of debt instruments — took a highly publicized step. It downgraded the credit-worthiness of the sovereign debts of many European countries. What a spectacle! These rating companies were distinguished […]
As the Occupy movement keeps developing, it seeks solutions for the economic and political dysfunctions it exposes and opposes. For many, the capitalist economic system itself is the basic problem. They want change to another system, but not to the traditional socialist alternative (e.g., USSR or China). That system too seems to require basic change. […]
Over the last 10 days, Harvard students twice stopped business as usual at this richest of all US private universities. An Occupy Harvard encampment of tents followed a large march of many hundreds through the campus protesting Harvard’s complicity in the nation’s extreme inequality of income and wealth. A week earlier some 70 students walked […]
The US Census Bureau recently reported what most Americans already knew. Poverty is deepening. The gap between rich and poor is growing. Slippage soon into the ranks of the poor now confronts tens of millions of Americans who long thought of themselves as securely “middle class.” The reality is worse than the Census Bureau reports. […]
Last week, Democratic Governors in New York and Connecticut repeated the austerity politics of Greece’s Prime Minister Papandreou and Portugal’s Socrates. In doing so, they likewise imitated the austerity politics of their Republican and Democratic counterparts across virtually all 50 states. Austerity for labor and the public is everywhere capitalism’s Plan B. After all, even […]
Standard and Poor’s downgrades US debt, stock markets gyrate around the world, Sarkozy and Merkel perform yet another empty summit, the Chinese and Japanese economies look worrisome. Serious commentators worry about global recession, another global banking collapse, eurozone dissolution, and austerity programs that only make matters worse. Nouriel Roubini, famed Professor at NYU’s Stern School […]
The President, Senators, Congresspersons, media representatives, and many ordinary people speak often, these days, about Washington “learning to live within our means.” Last Friday, the private rating company, Standard and Poor’s (S&P), said the riskiness of lending to the US had risen because the US was not living within its means (i.e. borrowing too much). […]
The political posturing around the debt ceiling “crisis” was mostly a distraction from the hard issues. The hardest of those — underlying US economic decline — keeps resurfacing to display costs, pains, and injustices that threaten to dissolve society. Its causes — two long-term trends over the last 30 years — help also to explain […]
Throughout its history, capitalism never succeeded in preventing recurring economic cycles or crises. However, they were usually contained within the system. Economic crises usually did not become social crises; the system itself was usually not called into question. Transition to a different system was then an idea kept away from public discussion, a project kept […]