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4 Hours With 'America's Most Prominent Marxist Economist'

Program #WOLR007-WOLR005-WOLR004-WOLR003.

First program: Democracy at Work

Cascading economic problems and crises, coupled with dysfunctional political responses, have plunged many societies into deepening turmoil. Capitalism, the dominant economic system of our time, has once again become the subject of criticism and opposition. A global capitalist system that no longer meets most people’s needs has prompted social movements to arise and coalesce in the active search for fundamental and structural change. The establishment responds with what are called reforms. But they are superficial and quickly circumvented. Historically, the various forms of state socialism and communism do not offer a model or inspiration to those looking for viable alternatives. People are seeking new solutions to address capitalism’s injustices, waste, and massive breakdowns. One such proposal is workers’ self-directed enterprises. Production works optimally when performed by a community that collectively and democratically designs and carries out shared labor. 

Second program: The Tax Code: Class Warfare

People dread taxes. The tax code is a labyrinth few citizens dare to enter save for the rich and powerful who hire lawyers and accountants to figure out ways to game the system. One corporation paid $26,000 a year to maintain a post office box in Bermuda as its legal HQs. That little trick saved them $40 million in corporate taxes. Not bad. Taxes on the wealthy used to be high. During the Eisenhower years in the 1950s, a fairly conservative period which saw tremendous economic growth, the tax rate for the haves was 91%. Today it's a third of that and few actual pay that much. In true Orwellian fashion if you raise these issues you are accused of class warfare. There is class warfare all right. It's been successfully waged by the affluent 1% against everybody else. Interviewed by David Barsamian.

Third Program: Occupy Wall Street & the Economic Crisis

By any standard, 2011 was a historic year of protest and revolution. In Tunisia and Egypt seemingly invulnerable regimes were toppled. In Wisconsin, citizens outraged over attacks on public workers, stayed at the state capitol building and camped and marched in the freezing cold. In August, more than 1,000 demonstrators were arrested protesting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, in the largest act of civil disobedience in decades. As a result of popular pressure, the project has been put on hold. Then, on September 17, in the heart of economic power, the Occupy Wall Street movement was born. Since then, it has spread and taken different shapes and forms. OWS has changed our vocabulary. 1% and 99% have entered the conversation and the focus is on the deep political, economic and social inequality in the U.S. and around the world. Interviewed by David Barsamian.

Fourth Program: Capitalism Hits the Fan

Like that well known substance, Capitalism has hit the fan. The statistics are numbing and do not convey the suffering and trauma citizens are enduring. Gone up in smoke are their savings, pensions, homes and jobs. Poverty is at record levels. For too many, dreams and hopes are shattered. And like the Howard Beale character in the movie "Network," people are yelling, "I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore." Occupy Wall Street has gone global. People are in the streets pushing back and saying, Enough. "We are the 99%." There is widespread recognition that the economic crash is not just the result of greed and arrogance and lax regulation. There are deeper structural problems with a system that always prioritizes profits over people. The question is what should replace it?

Speaker(s):

Richard Wolff

Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst and currently a visiting professor at the New School in New York. The New York Times calls him “America’s most prominent Marxist economist.” He is the author of numerous books including Democracy at Work and Occupy the Economy with David Barsamian.

 

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