Old and New
I watched two hours of Richard Wolff, Econ. Emeritus Professor at U of Mass, and The New School auniversity. The speech was on LINKTV this morning. He, like I, sees capitalism as a defunct system. It has produced movement in human life for some centuries, just as monarchies, and earlier forms of economic and social structures have. Holding on to a passe system of “the organization of enterprise,” when its inefficiencies are proven, is disastrous. Like all technologies ( tools devised to make human life easier) change is necessary. Wolff says, and I concur, that the social/human consequences of the capitalist enterprise are, currently, inefficient. In its place, he speaks of a system that I learned at Roosevelt U in the 1970s, “participatory democracy,” where social decisions are really made by the participants, not via layers of filters that “muddy the process.” Wolff says, if we accept democracy, as we say we do, then why not be totally committed to democratic values? We are not, and do not practice–nor even adequately understand– those values.
Values, meaning attending to what is important, crucial to the survival and well-being of the society, is the basic function of a society. Not only the survival of the “Queen Bee.” Unless we choose to be drones.
You can guess that I have questions even with this insightful concept. I perceive that unless there is a massive commitment to a fully educational system for children to adulthood, the public does not have the tools to concoct and manage democratic enterprise. We see the effects of that lack in the blow-back of the current reactionary political system. I do not think that this system will last much longer under the massive inequities, and depletion, it has produced.
During the Q &A period Wolff responded to interesting questions. A teacher wrote of her inability to control any aspect of her work/career. His reply was to the invalidity of separation of private versus public. What private enterprise does affects the public, and vice versa. He gave examples of how other societies are trying alternative organizational structures and procedures, i.e., Germany and Italy’s changes to more involvement between owners and laborers. Two former fascist countries! No doubt, until the US goes through a really wrenching change (now in process) it will not be able to conceive of more than patchwork alternatives, with continually falling back into invalidity that does nothing to ameliorate essential fallacies.
I do not suggest that Dr. Wolff’s–or anyone’s ideas, theses, experience, conclusions be ingested. I suggest that given the insufficient information, and framework taught in the usual educational-social system, and if “you” are concerned about the problematic circumstances in our world, perhaps, hearing,and thinking on other views of the same situation may open a lens to alternative thinking and being. This is, I suggest, what learning is.
The speech was made before the collapsing European economies, during the past few weeks. I would like to hear/read his discourse on the possibility of European financial collapse. I enjoyed the talk, although I’d heard part of it. This time I stayed with it. Two hours before a TV is much for me. Meanwhile, if people did their homework what enlightened people we could be. He mentioned how Mayor Bloomberg destroyed the Occupy Movement library of thousands of donated books–many political,historical and economic, while he is closing NYC libraries. If more Americans had knowledge of comprehensive world history we could make intelligent decisions and develop practical “organization of enterprise,” with the word enterprise meaning more than just exploitative markets, and capital domination. http://www.rdwolff.com Website