Occupy SMA

Richard Wolff

By Steven Gloss

Occupy SMA presents a video of economist and activist Richard Wolff, the director of an organization called Democracy at Work.

Wolff has been a professor of economics at several universities. He holds a PhD in economics from Yale University and two master’s degrees in economics from Yale and Stanford University, as well as an undergraduate degree from Harvard. He gives a monthly talk on economic issues at the Judson Memorial Church in Manhattan, where the talk in this week’s video was given.

He is widely regarded as the premier Marxist economist in the US, although he often says that he was never taught any socialist or Marxist economic theory. In fact, Wolff argues that teaching and discussions about economic systems other than capitalism have largely been suppressed for nearly 50 years in the US, owing in part to the assault on free speech in universities following the infamous Louis Powell memo of 1972.

This vacuum in our educational system has created a society where the words socialism, Marxism, communism, and terrorism are all regarded by many as the same term. In reality, the undiscussed theories and history of socialism are much more complex than one might think; our perceptions of socialism are not very accurate. The Bernie Sanders phenomenon in the Democratic primaries of 2016 have created an opportunity to not only discuss socialism but for candidates in upcoming elections to declare themselves socialists without being laughed off the stage or banned from the Democratic Party.

Ever since Karl Marx revealed the shortcomings of capitalism, his work has either been suppressed by capitalists—whose only goal is increasing profitability—or maligned with examples of communist dictatorships, neither of which portrays the diversity of social and economic possibilities under socialism. Today, the Bolivarian Revolution championed by Hugo Chavez in Venezuela is held up as evidence that socialism doesn’t work. Is that logical?

Wolff explains the history of socialism and its relationship with and differences from capitalism. Socialism, in its various forms, has always existed as a countervailing alternative to private capitalism. Capitalism, by its very nature, has always been an antithesis to democracy and equality. This lecture helps us understand what forms of socialism have existed heretofore and how socialism could alter our society to encourage democracy and equality. Socialism can come about by revolution (as it has during most of history) or by evolution. There are examples of the latter from present-day Europe.

As discontent grows with the massive inequality accruing in global capitalism, as corporations abandon their employees and communities in pursuit of higher profits for the few, and as the quality of life for the majority of people in the US is declining, there is a renewed interest in socialism. Join us to see and discuss this comparison of capitalism and socialism.

 

Film and Discussion

Occupy SMA presents:

Richard Wolff, Economist,

“What is Socialism and What Will it Look Like in America?”

Mon, May 14, 1pm

Quinta Loreto Hotel

TV room,

Loreto 15, Centro

Free

 

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