One thought on “Richard Wolff: Global Capitalism – October 2015 Monthly Update

  1. Emeritus Professor Richard Wollffe’s presentations about capitalism whether domestically in the US or its global manifestations in Greece, Germany, the European Union, Britain, China, France, India or elsewhere are always characterized by the following features.

    First and foremost, the professor’s presentations are typically very lucid and simple so that anybody whether educated or uneducated, rich or poor, worker or capitalist can easily understand his critiques of capitalism.

    Second, his presentations about capitalism as a system or any of its subsystems or companies whether VW’s manipulation of the emission systems of 11 million of its cars that increased pollution for 10 years in several countries or Facebook’s so called ” entrepreneurial innovation” to shift the cost burdens onto its workforce under the ploy of “work from home” or whether its the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP are always uncompromisingly critical of capitalism both within countries and globally.

    Thirdly, professor Wolffe’s presentations are typically critical of capitalism both at the national and international as a system of rapacious exploitation and alienation of working peoples domestically and internationally. He always critiques capitalism through the theoretical lens of Marxism showing that capitalists are parasites who rob the surplus value of the workers whilst only paying them the necessary value as wages as opposed to the total value of their labor in on any given day, week, month or year. Indeed with the rapid increase of the phenomenon of wage theft on the part of corporations like Walmart, MacDonalds and several others not only in the US but globally in Haiti, China, India and elsewhere.

    Further, professor Wolffe correctly shows in some of his lectures that increasing numbers of workers globally are not even receiving the necessary value of their labor or wages due to “wage theft” that is supposedly just enough to maintain their status as wage slaves. Consequently the status of many categories of workers particularly the so-called blue collar workers as wage slaves is made even more desperate due to wage theft. The phenomenon of wage theft is particularly common in companies and industries that are not unionized.

    Additionally, professor Wolffe shows in several of his lectures across the US and internationally how the increasing usage of technological innovations such as robots, computerized production systems, automation and the internet among others not only create technological unemployment of millions of workers but also significantly increase the productivity of workers within the production and distribution processes of capitalist enterprises. The latter increasingly wide spread usage of technology by capitalists, he lucidly demonstrates robs workers of even more of their labor value because they are producing many times more output in any work day though they are getting even less wages or necessary value after taxes that is used to buy foods, pay bills etc relative to the significantly higher surplus value that the capitalist owners of enterprise receive under the LAW. Dr. Wolffe nearly always discusses the socio-economic implications of the relative share of the workers and the capitalists in the total labor value created by the working classes in America and globally for the standard of living of workers, the profitability of capitalist enterprises, the power of the capitalists over political systems in the US and globally and the future of capitalism and socialism.

    Fourth, another important feature of professor Wolffe’s lectures and presentations that is also evident in his more scholarly works such as Capitalism Hits the Fan and ” Contending Economic Theories- Neiclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian” (coauthored with his late friend Stephen Resnick) is his willingness to critique the classical works of Karl Marx whenever he believes that the historical evolution of capitalism may have changed since Marx’s time. The latter, I believe is important for Marxist thinkers and activists to do, so as not to become irrelevant in an era in which capitalism has undergone some important changes while preserving its essential vicious and exploitative structures. The latter way of thinking is not only creative but it is a snob to dogmatism and political and intellectual rigidities that can make Marxist and other activists out of step with social, economic and political realities.

    Fifth, I believe that another feature that characterizes professor Wolffe’s lectures and presentations is his theoretical fierceness and apparent confidence in offering his stinging critiques of classical Marxism and Leninism that too frequently most Marxists and Marxist-Leninists shy away from perhaps for fear of being called “revisionists”or “traitors.” In this regard, I find Professor Wolffe’s lectures, presentations and scholarship to be an exemplary and creative application of his intellect in being bold in criticizing the practice of socialism in the former socialist countries such as their excessive reliance on state enterprises as opposed to other forms of property ownerships like cooperatives and joint ownership enterprises. Wolfe also regularly critiques in his lectures and scholarship the relative absence of worker control and democracy in socialist state enterprises, the committment to which is typically seen as a manifestation of ideological and political loyalty to socialism.

    In fact, it is usually a measure and manifestation of political and ideological rigidity and a failure to creatively use one’s intellect and political judgement to induce dynamism in the former socialist economies particularly among the working peoples in many of these countries who were demoralized by low wages in some cases, corruption and the bossiness of communist bosses and managers who often treated workers less as comrades and more as servants in many state enterprises in the former socialist countries. Dr. Wolffe spares NO punches in exposing the latter deficiencies of socialism and specifically state enterprises in former socialist societies. He mercilessly discusses the latter issues not exclusively but particularly so in his book ” Democracy at Work-A Cure for Capitalism.” He correctly shows that there is no contradiction between being critical of socialism and an ardent advocate for it. On the contrary, the former fortifies the latter.

    Finally, Dr. Wolffe’s lectures and presentations are also characterized by a refreshing passion, committment and confidence in his advocacy to promote and popularize socialist ideas and to use the bitter and vicious experiences of working people in the US, Greece, Britain, Central America, Africa, Asia and elsewhere to both critique capitalism and advocate for socialism to replace it whenever the organized power of the working people and its political guidance make it possible and most importantly whenever the organized and political guidance of their class enemy-the capitalist class become incapacitated to prevent its overthrow. Dr. Wolffe is not only an unabashed advocate for socialism but he is also funny, witty and staunch in his advocacy of socialism and his critique of US and international capitalism.

    “It’s always impossible until it’s done”Nelson Mandela

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