Ask Prof. Wolff

rdw_speaking.png
 
Have a question for Professor Wolff? Want to suggest a topic or article? Post it here! Professor Wolff receives hundreds of questions per week covering a wide array of topics, from economics and socialism, to historical movements and current events. While Professor Wolff does his best to reply to some questions on Economic Updatewe receive more questions than we can handle! Ask Prof. Wolff allows his fans to ask questions publicly and also vote and respond to others questions.
 
Select "Most Recent" to view recently submitted questions. You must be logged in to submit your own.
Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.

"The concrete form of late capitalism"

https://nytimes.com/2016/05/18/opinion/our-crime-against-the-planet-and-ourselves.html

1 comment Share

"The concrete form of late capitalism"

https://nytimes.com/2016/05/18/opinion/our-crime-against-the-planet-and-ourselves.html

1 comment Share

Energy

I'm curious about the role of energy in economies. The sun provides energy which is then used to do labour after being processed through plants and animals and humans. Marx talked about thermodynamics, and modern heterodox economists are talking about it too. A colleague of mine has done a computer simulation that shows that entropy plays a big role in creating inequality in randomly-generated exchanges of commodities; can you comment on bioeconomics or econophysics?

2 comments Share

Why not Global Resource Bank?

https://www.grb.net

3 comments Share

What causes corruption in Latin America(specifially in Mexico)?

I am an American. I live in Mexico, I have since 1995. If you permit me the honor of summarizing a belief all Mexican people(at least 99%) have about their problems: The number one cause of Mexico´s problems is their culture. Corruption exists in some genetic sense of their very being. Mexican people would not object to your saying they have a corruption gene. They will laugh nervously, grit their teeth and turn their eyes up to look for some relief from the sky, and quietly say "it´s true". They believe(more than 99%) Americans are different. They are more honest, collaborative, they see the big picture of society as a whole. This quality in Americans is also somehow in their cultural genes. These beliefs are expressed in any conversation (>99%) about politics or economics you may ever have with a Mexican.One particular example is when I share your history lesson of FDR´s steps to get the US out of the great depression. I ask "don´t you think that we should raise taxes here? establish a maximum wage? use that money for the betterment of all society?" the typical response is amazingly like clock work. For the first two minutes they look again at the sky and say "yes, that really is a great idea. We should do this. Some people have too much money", then, inexplicably, the timer sounds and their tone changes. "But this is a good idea for the US,but not for Mexico" stupefied I ask "why?" they say "because we are corrupt in Mexico. If the government obtained all that tax money, you know it will end up in the pockets of the senators and the presidents. This works in the US because the government in honest" I would love to hear you address these anxieties of Mexican people. I think your message has so many possibilities here, but it also has to address certain extra worries. my email is: therisinginstitute@gmail.com my name is Carl Dillard

3 comments Share

Isn't there something missing in your "class" analysis of the household?

The analysis you make of the "class" relations in the household seems incorrect, and not marxist. You don't take in consideration the wealth that the husband brings home from selling his labor-power. In the Capital, the value of the labor-power is equal to the labor needed to reproduce it. I never see you using this definition in your videos. The total labor-power that the household produces is a communal effort. The labor to reproduce the labor-power includes housework, raising children, studying, making meals. In a sense, even resting, regenerating the body and mind is something you got to do. Sometimes I'm just too exhausted and numb (or even in pain) from work to do anything useful. In my view, the capitalist (as a class) extract the surplus produced by the whole household. Of course, the work to produce the labor-power may be unequally distributed among the integrants of the family, and that is hard to account. I would say that, in the 50% of the couples, where both work, on average, men have more power, do less work and have more privileges. But economic exploitation of working people over their spouse is not the case at all. The surplus extracted from the consumption of the labor-force goes to the capitalist, not the male worker. In the worst case, I would say it is a oppressive relation of men over women.

posted an official response

I appreciate your comments and your evident interest in working through a consistent application of Marx's value theory to the production and distribution of the surplus within the household economy and its relationship with the external capitalist economy. That is what we (Steve Resnick, Harriet Fraad, and I) did in the book of essays called:

Class Struggle on the Home Front

Work, Conflict, and Exploitation in the Household

Editors: Cassano, G. (Ed.)

Home/Front examines the gendered exploitation of labor in the household from a postmodern Marxian perspective. The authors of this volume use the anti-foundationalist Marxian economic theories first formulated by Stephen Resnick and Richard Wolff to explore power, domination, and exploitation in the modern household.

You will see your concerns addressed there in detail and systematically.

7 comments Share

Unanswered Questions about Worker Co-ops

Hello Professor Wolff, I recently discovered your radio show and have been enjoying it. I am somewhat sympathetic to your strong advocacy of worker co-ops and appreciate the sense of Hegelian corporatism that you've built into the concept (or at least that is what I perceive to be an antecedent in the history of political economy.) In any event, from what I have heard over the last two months or so, there are some questions about worker co-ops that could be more fully developed. 1.) Why do worker co-ops have a specific affinity to socialism? It seems to me they are best suited to a localist variety of capitalism which, while not a bad thing, doesn't seem to immediately lead to a socialist society. If worker co-ops can make capitalism more democratic, can that be enough? 2.) How does one mitigate within co-ops against neoliberal influence? For example, could a traditional corporation attempt to "capture" votes within a co-op competitor through a kind of lobbying that curries favor with co-op employees in exchange for their votes (much in the same way politicians and doctors can be influenced by free vacations, dinners, etc.) Is there any literature that anticipates how neoliberal actors might try to undermine a co-op movement? 3. What prevents a co-op from engaging in the same malicious practices we see in some corporations? While a co-op likely wouldn't vote to ship their jobs overseas, it is conceivable that they might outsource some aspects of their production to overseas vendors or try to externalize the environmental impact of their production to a third-party. Stated another way, what insulates the members of a co-op from greed? Thanks for your time and keep up the great work on the show. -Will Cladley

1 comment Share

The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014)

1) Could you possibly read a poem or two of his on your program and relate it to capitalism/state capitalism. Thank you Dr. Wolff. https://libcom.org/blog/xulizhi-foxconn-suicide-poetry 2)April, I believe, is National Poetry Month. It would be cool if you could read relevant poems (that you decide on) on your radio programs for that month.

2 comments Share

Linking Subsidies to Corporations with Actual Number of Jobs Created

Hi Professor, I was looking on a site called Good Jobs First, where they have compiled a detailed list of all of the subsidies (corporate welfare) that every company gets. It is really quite detailed, they have a subsidy tracker and you can refine your search by parent company, type of subsidy etc, In addition, they have reports that you can read detailing their findings. I thought you might find it useful. I initially went there to see if I could find a direct correlation between the amount a company receives from the government and the actual number of jobs that were created as a result of a particular project. Since the typical justification for these handouts is that it will create jobs, it occurred to me that if there was a way to link the money these giant companies take, with the number of jobs they actually produce, then that would be a concrete way to defuse the job creation invocation, which has a way of stopping a discussion in its tracks. In their report, they rate companies based upon their ability to meet job creation requirements, but I didn't see any specific numbers (like Boeing took 2.8 billion and the project created 4,200 jobs or something like that) If such a chart exists, maybe you know where to find it. Anyway, I hope the site is of use to you and perhaps you could discuss the subsidy to actual jobs created ratio on an upcoming show. Thanks so much, I really enjoy and value your show. Lee Metcalf

1 comment Share

Does not human history and our biological natures present the most major flaw in Marxian economics?

To Doctor Wolff, I listen to your economy updates on democracy at work via youtube and I had subscribed to your old channel and occasionally I hear you on KPFA from time to time. I enjoy your insight and I firmly trust that the vast majority of your critiques, recommendations, and hypotheses on various events are correct. However after all these years I have to note that your central tenet seems to be what betrays all the rest of your predictions or evaluations; that capitalism will fail or that when capitalism fails Marxian/socially progressive economics will be the best or most likely replacement. The reason I do not agree with this is not from a lack of desire or trust that alternatives such as worker coops among others are the preferable methods to replace capitalism. Rather it is from two views that I draw this doubt; historical and biological. History is primarily dominated by one notable concept, hierarchy. You have pointed this out multiple times. Chiefs ran tribes, Lords ruled kingdoms, and now we have managers (or in Doctor Wes Cecil of Peninsula College opinion that presidents in democracies are little more than figurehead replacements for kings and our congress replacement for lords). There are relatively few examples of large successful collectives or anarcho-socialist styles of government. When such types of governments emerge (i.e. revolutionary Catalonia) quickly other hierarchical governments conspire to attack and crush them. Biologically we need only look to our fellow evolutionary cousin primates to understand a great deal of evidence to indicate that hierarchical systems are firmly embedded in our most intimate nature as a species. Our evolutionary cousins go to war, have troupes led by “alpha” females and or males and followed by “betas”, and have established (and turbulent) social orders which are well documented by many including noted primatologist Jane Goodall to neuroendocrinologist Robert Sarpolsky. In Russia, as in much else of the world there is a growing idea which cannot be ignored. That democracy, not capitalism, is what does not work. It is painful to come to the conclusion that the vast majority of the history of human interaction comes to the result that many suffer so that the few thrive and lead. However it appears that it is exactly that the necessity of historical objectivity and not the ideal premise of the necessity of historical progress is what is required. To formulate an economic ideal which takes into account our perfunctory socio-biological nature as well as the higher ideal of Marxism is what I maintain must be done so that leaving capitalism in its current false duality form of neoclassical vs Keynesian form is just possible but readily palatable by the majority of people. I trust you can give an insightful and inspiring response to counter and challenge my doubts. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYG0ZuTv5rs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0kuMS-EATs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dominance_hierarchy

2 comments Share

Is there an ALTERNATIVE to the failed capitalist system???

hi richard- feb 25 2017 heard your latest talk on KPFA radio (sonoma state university), thank you. i've linked a few of your past you tube talks to one of my websites. one thing we need to hear about is the ALTERNATIVE to the failing/failed capitalist system. I call it a SERVICE oriented economy. see PROJECT 2100 in the link below. best, jtp santa cruz Global Marshall Plan: http://leftcoast7.simplesite.com

3 comments Share

Immigrants fleeing to Canada via the US.

Hey, Just wanted to say I listen to your program every week and very much appreciate your prospective on things. I just wanted to ask if you could talk a little bit about the Immigrant issue happening now. Us up here in Canada haven't seen anything quite like this since the underground rail road, or maybe the draft dodge during Vietnam. I know there's a lot of things going on right now down there but as an outsider I know we're missing a lot of nuance to the situation.

3 comments Share

New article: Virtually everyone agrees that a great stock market crash is coming.

http://www.thedailysheeple.com/virtually-everyone-agrees-that-a-great-stock-market-crash-is-coming_022017

1 comment Share

How should I get started with Hegel?

I figure I should read Hegel, Kant, etc before I start with Marx, so how would you recommend to read Hegel? Which books to read first, companions, etc. Thank you Dr. Wolff.

1 comment Share

How can we rebut the standard line that we need 4% growth every quarter, every year?

The standard economic model posits perpetual growth as the prerequisite to a healthy economy. This model, I believe, must be changed in order to establish a sustainable economic system. The government pretends that perpetual growth is the ONLY way to provide jobs to the working class, but surely, that is now dangerously wrong-headed. So: what arguments counter that 4% growth argument, and its underlying model for perpetual growth?

1 comment Share

connect

get updates