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Author Archive | Rick Wolff

Capitalism and the Useful Nation State

The nation state is once again proving its special usefulness as a vehicle for managing capitalist crisis.  Partly, this follows from the renewal of Keynesian monetary and fiscal policies.  Other key dimensions of state usefulness include its more direct provision of financial guarantees to private enterprises and its over-priced purchase of “toxic” assets (those that […]

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The Stakes in “Punishing” Greece

Global capitalism imploded in 2007.  The central causes of capitalism’s crisis include: the end of real wage increases in the US and the substitution of rising worker debt far beyond what workers could sustain; the buildup of excess global industrial capacity; the explosion of speculation and excess risk-taking by banks, other financial and non-financial corporations, […]

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Class War

US workers’ real wages (money wages adjusted for the prices workers actually pay) have not risen from their levels in the 1970s.  Recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data confirm that real wages continued to stagnate through 2009.  Across the same 30-year period, the productivity of labor kept rising: the average worker produced ever more output […]

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The Reality Behind Economic “Recovery”

Mid-August, 2009, was a peculiar time in the US economy.   Wall Street, big banks, and the media were mostly celebrating “economic recovery.”  Meanwhile, average Americans were suffering record levels of unemployment, job insecurities, home foreclosures, personal debt anxieties, and the upsets, tensions, and angers that inevitably result.  One economist referred to the US as “one […]

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Capitalism in Crisis, Government Impotent

The media, academics, and politicians often speak and act as if government economic policies can or will “solve” or “end” or “overcome” capitalism’s crises.  They don’t.  They never have.  The often-cited counter-example,  FDR’s New Deal program in the 1930s,  failed to get the US out of the Great Depression.  World War 2 finally did that. […]

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Crises in versus of Capitalism

Capitalism has generated recurring “crises” everywhere and throughout its history.  It alternates bursts of growth and prosperity with crisis periods when many workers lose jobs and homes, bankruptcies close enterprises, production shrinks, and governments reduce public services.  Growth periods almost always promote speculation, overproduction, inflation, and excess debts that crises then erase or even reverse.  […]

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Capitalist Crisis, Socialist Renewal

This much is clear: not in a long time has capitalism been so critically questioned in the US and “socialism” so widely debated as a social alternative.  The left can and should seize this moment.  One part of doing that is to formulate a new program — including a new definition of socialism — that […]

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Regulations Do Not Prevent Capitalist Crises

A huge chorus now clamors to heap new regulations on banks, credit markets, international capital flows, and so on.  Regulations, for many in politics, the media, and academia, seem to have become the magic bullet that will not only “solve” the current economic crisis but also prevent future meltdowns.  Many labor union and left voices […]

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Wanted: Red-Green Alliance for Radically Democratic Reorganization of Production

Private capitalism (in which productive assets are owned by private individuals and groups and in which markets rather than state planning dominate the distribution of resources and products) has repeatedly demonstrated a tendency to flare out into overproduction and/or asset inflation bubbles that burst with horrific social consequences.  Endless reforms, restructurings, and regulations were all […]

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Those Alternative Socialist “Stimulus” Plans

There are, of course, other ways to “support and stimulate” the declining US economy: those that congressional debaters, presidential advisors, and the dutiful media never discuss.  All the Federal Reserve and the US Treasury ever do is justify their functions as lenders and spenders “of last resort” (when the private sector will not).  Neither ever […]

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Betting on State Gambling

Lotteries: Disguised Tax Injustice

Lotteries, now run by most of our 50 states, are disguised forms of taxation that fall most heavily on those least able to pay.  In today’s economic crisis, state leaders face rising resistance to taxation from everyone.  Therefore, many of them plan to expand lotteries even more, hoping that no one realizes they represent a […]

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Flip-flops of Economics

Most US economists are professors in colleges and universities.  Their academic positions enable research and teaching that is supposed to be independent of corporate interests.  They could, at least hypothetically, provide the critical insights into economic problems needed for their solution.  Economists might help to propose, evaluate, and debate the wide range of possible solutions […]

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Length of Recession, in Months

Actually, “It’s the System, Stupid”

“Our community is expanding: MRZine viewers have increased in number, as have the readers of our editions published outside the United States and in languages other than English.  We sense a sharp increase in interest in our perspective and its history.   Many in our community have made use of the MR archive we put […]

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Wages as Percentage of GDP

Capitalism’s Crisis through a Marxian Lens

“Our community is expanding: MRZine viewers have increased in number, as have the readers of our editions published outside the United States and in languages other than English.  We sense a sharp increase in interest in our perspective and its history.   Many in our community have made use of the MR archive we put […]

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