After 300 Years, It’s Time To End Capitalism, Not Reform It

| Podcast

The United States is facing multiple crises with no signs of improvement on the horizon – a deep recession, high unemployment, millions of people soon to be displaced from their homes, a failed healthcare system in the midst of a pandemic, the climate crisis and more. We speak with Professor Richard Wolff, an economist and the author of “Democracy at Work”, about the history of capitalism and how it is inherently unstable. Prof. Wolff posits that the United States is now in a situation where capitalism is unlikely to survive. He describes why that is and the lessons we must learn from the fatal mistakes made when the US was in a similar situation one hundred years ago.

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Our Guest:

Professor Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. Earlier he taught economics at Yale University (1967-1969) and at the City College of the City University of New York (1969-1973). In 1994, he was a Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Paris (France), I (Sorbonne). Wolff was also regular lecturer at the Brecht Forum in New York City. Read more here. Follow his work at Democracyatwork.info and on Twitter at @profwolff.

  • Hilda J Richey

    Transcript?

  • Edward Winslow

    Donald Trump learned “over the barrel” negotiation at his slumlord father’s knee. Trump used a variety of bad-faith negotiation skills that completely swamped the dimwitted and politically compromised Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer, So, it’s no surprise that the Democrats have been out maneuvered by the gangsterism of Trump. Unfortunately, this scenario has repeated itself for decades as the Democrats have allowed themselves (at the instruction of the corporate benefactors) to allow the Republicans to prevail on nearly every issue.

  • Nylene13

    Capitalism is a Sociopathic System. The Sociopaths are in charge.

    What to do about the Sociopaths? -that is the question.

  • ThisOldMan

    Capitalism may be a sociopathic system, but I’m afraid that the sociopaths have been in charge of most societies throughout human history. If we ever do solve that problem, it will be a first.

  • William Johnson

    Here’s a thought about that. Instead of prison for those who truly do need to be removed from a peaceful society, which we don’t have yet, and maybe the main reason for this is the control by deranged people some call, sociopaths in our society, but in days of old among many native tribes in present day N. America, exile used to be employed and often worked until the exiled could prove themselves to be valuable members of the tribe once again. Why not use the over, 3,200 inhabited islands in the Caribbean to exile the banksters, industrialists, polluters, and other criminals and allow them to take care of themselves in places where the only harm they can do is to themselves? Works for me and I’ll be happy to help them pack. How to accomplish this in a fractured society created by the very people one would hope to exile for their own good and ours is the key question and also, how can this be done peacefully? We all know how this empire will react to fundamental change, so I think, this will be a work in progress during what remains of my lifetime and beyond. Still, I think we MUST work towards such a world, no matter how long it takes to get there. .

  • ANTONIO

    Of course the problem is solvable. For example, in Cuba it is against the Constitution fro someone to be fired from their job. USSR, Venezuela, China, there are tons of examples of how socialism is developing and solving social problems. Some people think just because there are problems that somehow it doesn’t work- that is a fallacy. Capitalism took decades (and centuries) to develop, and socialism, according to specific circumstances, will take likewise. What is beyond question is that capitalism has crashed for good.

  • Nylene13

    Shades of Brave New World, hum?

    The thing is -Sociopaths are dangerous. They are not going to accept living on some remote island. (Psychopaths are more rare, and out of control. They don’t usually live long. Psychopaths are 1 percent of the population.)

    But Sociopaths – 10 percent of the human population, are born that way.

    They do not have what we call a conscience. They do not feel empathy, or love.

    But Sociopaths can be very smart, and act as though they do care. Most everyone already knows a Sociopath -and does not realize it.

    Putting Sociopaths on a bunch of islands-will not solve the problem.

    They will figure out ways to escape. Or they would build some kind of power system which will pollute the ocean. And so on. I think the way to look at is that such people have Rabies.

    I don’t think we can get rid of sociopaths peacefully. But we must get rid of them if this planet is to survive.

    You say “no matter how long it takes”. But that is the problem. We are OUT OF TIME, Environmentally speaking. Thanks mainly to the Capitalist Sociopaths.

    Good Book-The Sociopath Next Door.

  • Nylene13

    Please read my comment above.

    Cuba is a good example of a socialist society today, that tiny country has done Great Things, but they still have to contend with the Sociopathic Capitalist Industrialist Military System-which HATES Cuba.

  • Nylene13

    “I started my first business with a small loan from my father, of one million dollars”.
    Donald Trump

  • Tony

    None of these I list were an issue when I was growing up. Here are
    symptoms of late-stage capitalism (or “vulture” or “crony” capitalism):
    Reverse mortgage, outsourcing, shrinking middle class, check cashing
    stores, half the country makes 30k a year or less, average age of fast
    food workers are 30 years old, student debt crisis, corporate control of
    government, service-sector economy (junk-jobs), push to privatize the
    commons, bank bailouts, Citizens United, private prisons, push to
    privatize social security, corporations that make billions in profits
    pay zero in taxes, etc…..

  • NoNameSoSueMe

    What makes you think those 3200 islands would take them?

  • chetdude

    Exactly true.

    We need to replace the socioeconomic system (and the underlying systemic disease) that is most advantageous FOR sociopaths with one that is mutually supportive for everyone.

  • chetdude

    NOT “throughout human history” unless you define “human history” as beginning only about 8000 years ago.

  • 1simpleeme

    No… Pelosi & Schumer are just like the rest of the Democratic “leadership”… they have NOT been outmaneuvered. They have simply been paid enough by their corporate capitalist donors to “throw the fight”!!! In fact, they have pocketed so much $$$$ from their donors and from their own personal investments into shares of the same mega-corporations that donate to them, that they personally benefit no matter who wins… WITH ONE EXCEPTION! TRUE PROGRESSIVES like Sanders or AOC are the only threat to their financial wellbeing. That’s why they literally stopped at nothing to block Sanders. They’d much rather risk having Trump for another 4 years than allow a progressive to win.

  • Alan MacDonald

    Since, “Counter Punch” only allows comments through the ‘negative externality cost’ dumping monster of FaceBook, I don’t participate there as I used to — but I sure miss reading Paul Streets insightful exposures and excoriations of the God-damned American HQed Disguised Global Crony Capitalist EMPIRE:

    “For at least half a century now, the main response of American

    capitalist-imperialist-white-supremacist government to the Black urban

    crisis (which predates both neoliberalism and deindustrialization)

    has been a “racially disparate” mass arrest and imprisonment regime so

    oppressive that one in three Black boys can now expect to be locked up

    in their adult lives.”

    And I remain most annoyed with the fact that many of the best principled progressive web-sites, like your “Popular Resistance”, Margaret and Kevin, “Common Dreams”, “The Intercept”, FSTVs “Democracy Now”, Aby’s “Empire Files”, etc., etc., et. al. are not yet appreciating the potential power and influence of a unified Focus on the ‘seminal cause’ of all our ‘issues’, ‘symptom problems’, and our “entire ailing social order” under the dual-party Vichy-facades of faux-democracy — that is controlled unilaterally by the Disguised Global Crony Capitalist Empire.

    I sometimes find it negatively amazing that an economy of scale, and increase of effectiveness in “belling this big deadly cat of Empire” could not be more unified in focusing on overthrowing if we were not so distracted, and ‘divided’ by Empire in scattering out a over abundance of focus on too many “Issues” and to little seriousness of purpose on the causal cancer of EMPIRE:

    “Can’t see the Forest for the Trees” translates politically in 2020/21 into

    “Can’t see the Empire for the Issues” eh?

    But, I guess, lots of issues, attract lots of audience, lots of financial support —

    “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” array of issues.

    Fitzgerald, Francis Scott . The Great Gatsby ( +Annotated, +Biography, +Actively table of contents ) (Kindle Location 2303). Francis Scott Fitzgerald. Kindle Edition.

  • ThisOldMan

    Perhaps I should’ve said “written history.” But since there’s very little oral history left, I didn’t think it necessary. Anyway, yes, I meant about 8000 years.

  • ThisOldMan

    First time I’ve seen a distinction made between psychopathy and sociopathy. Are you saying that a psychopath is a sociopath who crosses the line into criminality? According to Dennis Hare, who’s written multiple books on the subject, most psychopaths tend to learn to work within the system as they get older (he does not make a distinction with sociopathy as best I recall). This would then say that these things are both learned as well as inherited — as most human behaviors are. I don’t know myself, but I certainly acknowledge the existence of such “talents,” and hope that someone comes up with a clinical diagnosis someday. Meanwhile, perhaps I should move to Cuba …

  • Nylene13

    I suggest the book The Sociopath Next Door. It explains the Difference between Psychopaths and Sociopaths.

    Such as – Psychopaths are out of control of themselves and often kill other people for no real reason.

    Sociopaths rarely commit murder themselves, but they are easily capable of it if they consider it to their benefit.

    Sociopaths are born. There is no cure. They lack the ability to feel empathy.

  • chetdude

    Good point, thank you.

  • William Johnson

    They are currently uninhabited.

  • William Johnson

    I get that and as I said, this was just a thought and maybe, not a very good one. It’s just never been tried in the U.S. and I doubt it ever will be, considering who becomes a judge in the federal system. I do think it would be interesting though and far cheaper than placing these people in a prison most people shouldn’t be in to begin with.

  • zak1

    Now that Biden has selected Kamala Harris, I think Green VP Angela Walker needs to come out with a video statement quickly (on her own) responding to Harris’ selection – there’s buzz around Harris, so such a video could attract attention to the Green ticket

    Is this the first time we’ve had two black women running for VP? That could be another way to draw attention to the Greens

    In fact, Andrew Buncombe of The Independent has already pointed this out in an article two days ago – perhaps Walker should seize on his interest and follow up with him for an interview? (Buncombe is also the UK journalist who was assaulted and imprisoned by US police for covering the George Floyd protests – perhaps Hawkins/Walker might invite him onto their weekly chat to discuss issues of media coverage?) Here is what his article says:

    “Nor is Harris the first woman of colour to be nominated for the vice presidency. In 1996 and again in 2000, Winona LaDuke, an indigenous American, was running mate for Ralph Nader, when he sought the presidency for the Green Party.

    “This year, the Greens’ vice presidential candidate is Angela Walker, a 46-year-old African American activist from Milwaukee. (Suddenly, America has two black women running to be VP.)”

  • Stephen Stillwell

    Why not include each human being on the planet equally in a globally standard process of money creation?

    The ism talk is not particularly productive.

    Without change to any existing governmental structures, why not include each human being on the planet equally in a globally standard process of money creation?

    High minded thoughts about how humans should be managed, and won’t consider providing structural economic self ownership, to each of us?

    Emperor created currency to buy things with the labors of his subjects, Kings liked the idea, because they could then keep all the gold safely under their beds.

    When kings were deposed, State has taken possession of access to our labor.

    A rather simple rule for international banking corrects the foundational inequity: All sovereign debt, money creation, shall be financed with equal quantum Shares of global fiat credit, that may be claimed by each adult human being on the planet, held in trust with local deposit banks, administered by local fiduciaries and actuaries exclusively for secure sovereign investment at a fixed and sustainable rate, as part of an actual local social contract.

    Instead of the deliberately unstable bond and currency markets, we borrow all money into existence from each human being on the planet, collectively, through our sovereign trust accounts, and pay the fees collected equally to each of us, individually.

    You can call it socialism, because it demands actual local social contracts, but capitalism is supposed to be a social contract, as well.

    Since all the isms create money as though central government owns access to citizens labor, claims against ‘capitalism’ need perspective.