KEVIN GUSTAFSON: One of the hardest things for most people to explain and to understand is just the basic definition of the word 'socialism' and I think you'll find as many definitions of socialism as you'll find socialists.
So, at the beginning of your book, you provide a definition of socialism that's one of the broadest I've ever heard. You define it as this sort of yearning for something better than capitalism. Sometimes, you say it's like capitalism's shadow, which reminded me of Marx's "spectre haunting Europe" but why did you pick such a broad definition of socialism?
There are so many to choose from, and this is among the broadest. Why go so broad?
RICHARD WOLFF: Well, there were a number of reasons that made me do that.
One of them was that I actually think that is, when I think about it, and I think of all the people, that, in my long life, that I've encountered who define themselves as socialists, I asked myself, "Well, what is it that they have in common?"
Since, as I got to know them, they often had really strong disagreements about all kinds of things. And, this yearning, came to me as I was trying to open that book up, as a way to capture something that is common to pretty much all of the ones I ever met.
So, while it's true as you say, it's got lots of definitions, that is something almost all of them, I think, would be comfortable endorsing.
The second reason I chose it is because it kind of invites a question, like what you just said, namely, okay, that's awfully broad, even if I go along with that, I know enough, and I think most people do about socialism, to know that there's lots of disagreements to what exactly it is, or isn't.