Please Say More About the Blindness of Merely Altering Parts of Capitalism

In a question below that asked you about the book, Makers and Takers, you emphasized that the "system" of capitalism (as Marx analyzed it so well in his time) is the true problem -- not mere faulty parts. Why does it seem as if only you and your close economist colleagues; Profs. Chomsky and Giroux; and a handful of economic anthropologists (e.g., D. Graeber and D. Harvey); as well as some older U.S. anthropologists (e.g., Jules Henry); see/saw the systemic dysfunctions of capitalism. Is it because all of you were willing to take Marx's theories seriously, or do you think there are other social or psychological forces that have been obstructing a systems understanding among the public of the inevitable destructiveness of capitalism.

Official response from submitted

Indeed, it is much more social and psychological forces than theoretical engagements that explain our relative rarity (although that rarity is diminishing quickly these years). After World War 2, the right wing in the US (big business, conservative social forces, their politicians, etc.) moved aggressively to undo the New Deal and especially to undo the rise of the left-wing coalition (CIO, 2 socialist parties and the US Communist Party) that forced the New Deal onto FDR. They decided the CPUSA was the weakest link of that coalition and so demonized it first and hardest, and then followed by lesser versions of demonization imposed on socialists and unionists. The end result was a kind of psychological traumatization of the population. Everyone got a strong lesson in how careers, jobs, friends etc could be lost by the govt attacking you or your organization as disloyal, evil, etc. One result was what you point to: if one dared to criticize any aspect of the economy, one had to be doubly careful to make it only a specific part and never, ever the system as a whole. The Cold War deposited that taboo against systemic criticism deep into the national consciousness from which it is only now evaporating.

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  • Richard Wolff
    responded with submitted 2017-04-03 12:01:58 -0400
  • Save Educators
    published this page in Ask Prof. Wolff 2017-04-02 21:01:24 -0400