Does ‘Capitalism Good, Communism Bad’ Even Mean Anything?


joining us today is richard wolf he is
professor emeritus of economics at my alma mater the University of
Massachusetts currently a visiting professor at The New School University
in New York City professor I wanted to talk you about
this idea of capitalism as a well as one single thing you know we
hear a lot for example in the discussion about
Obamacare there were accusations that 0 its communist and we need a capitalist
system we hear discussions i’ve capitalism is a
better system or were system then whatever other
system so I think a good place to start is how big can the variations be %uh under what we still consider to be
capitalism in terms of how it actually functions within society is there a
broad Rangers capitalism just mean one thing: I think like all the systems economic systems that we know of a new
ministry it comes in a variety of forms about slavery came in a variety of forms you LysM came in a variety of forms I there’s no reason to be surprised dismay up by the fact that capitalism likewise other displays a variety of forms for example we called eighteenth and
nineteenth century Britain capitalist but it was different from the
United States today in countless ways we even see that the France or Holland or Sweden refer to themselves as capitalist today
and most people do but they’re quite different from the
capitalism that exists say in Brazil or Nigeria or India or Candida so here if you look historically over time and
if you look from one country to another capitalism takes countless forms let me take it one step further some
other things that distinguish one form from another are
sometimes so upsetting to people that they need to
make an argument I’m not quite sure why that what we have
here is not another form of capitalism but something fundamentally different so
let’s take example you began with Obamacare by giving the government a lot a bigger
role in the economy represents socialism or communist well that’s a strange argument when you
remember that for example all veterans in the
United States are taken care of by a governments
medical program %uh the Veterans Hospital across our
country provide government-subsidized medical
care which the same people never dream are
referring to as socialism or communism likewise when
you get to be over 65 years of age in the United States you get medicare which is a government
organized medical insurance program I’ll we have a
public post office people at the Tennessee River Valley I get very electricity from a public
utility countless cities and towns across
America have public power stations that are run
by the government which sells the electricity to the
citizens above the community and anyone would seriously for all that
is socialism would begin to get very complicated in
is our analysis because that’s part of the United States
and as been throughout our history and I don’t think most
people think that way 1 warnings here in the soviet union which is sort of the paradigm case about
socialism or communism %uh yes a little known facts that can
show you a complicated this the six immediately
after the 1917 revolution the leader of the Soviet Union when it a
win on Sunday radio and guaranteed to all the peasants
I’ll Russia let’s remember it was an
agricultural country ninety-five percent of people made their
living from farming he said to them I’m going to distribute
the land up Russia under the new socialist system and it’s
going to be we go now every person’s trying that property which it was for the next
decade in other words the soviet revolution not
only didn’t abolish private property it guaranteed
it and that is an important point to
recognize that the conventional notions how you distinguish capitalism and
socialism to capitalism other systems is really %uh not very
good doesn’t work real well what we really have across the modern
world are different forms of capitalism some with more public employment and
public power others with less I’m variations across
the board so it seems not only are want you I
guess what what the audience could take from
this is when you hear a conversation going on about the about an economy our country
our society and you hear these blanket statements
about capitalism or socialism or whatever the
case may be being Sabah you know kind of objectively
good or bad not only is it misleading but it’s kind
of an empty conversation in that you you know nothing about the reality love
that system simply from knowing it’s one word name do you yes it’s a little bit like taking
seriously a bitter argument between two people you
know as they have for all %uh insults an
antagonistic remarks to one another I’ll a pic an example a a calls be a devil well any you could take
seriously that this person being called the devil
is some agent upstate in or some other imagery or you could understand that when
tempers are flaring and the heat is high in a conversation
or a dispute people use words as kinds of insults
from other to attack each other but they
don’t have really much analytical contact a calling be a devil doesn’t really mean we ought to spend a
lot of time a checking out whether be really has horns hundreds air you know
it %uh it mistakes that that situation and when
people yell about that the Soviet Union you abolish private property he
ignorance basically and it doesn’t help us understand what’s going on in the very limited time we have left
there’s one very specific fear that is very that used quite a bit kind have with the
context of the American Dream very often you hear fear-mongering around any type love collectivist idea in the United
States which is the next thing you know you won’t even
be able to work as hard as you want to make as much money as you want writing
in some way if if if there is a move towards
collectivism you can’t be an entrepreneur or n grow a business that’s like a very
specific fear that is used a 22 kinda scare people away from
anything collectivist is there any truth to the idea that
historically speaking entrepreneurship goes away when you have
anything but pure capitalism knowledge that is absolutely none I mean
every capitalist system %uh which we have a record has gone
through ups and downs in the ease with which new businesses
can be floor entrepreneurs can begin to set up a
business for example here in the United States we
have had tremendous troubles about this question that’s why for
example we have a government agency call the small business
administration that specifically hopes subsidizes and tries to quote unquote create a
level playing field so that small businesses have a chance
and he small businesses have a very hard time
in the United States today likewise take another example the
People’s Republic of China you look at their 50-year history it’s
basically a situation in which sometimes it was
very easy as it has been recently for businesses
to start in this quote-unquote communist society and there were other times when it was
very difficult so I think you see here again that the ease or difficulty of starting
a business is something that families
criss-crossing all the systems and using labels like communist or
capitalist to suggest a pattern misunderstands the variety
that is actually exist alright professor richard wool visiting
professor at The New School University in New York City pleasure as always to
have you on thanks so much for doing it thank you David I look forward to
talking to you again in the future thank you




Comments
  1. Niether has a benevolent government/ Communism , when we are dealing with thousands and millions of people. And actually I do believe free markets have existed, they were quickly snuffed out by collectivism and ignorance though, Communism has existed too, its just the same though, the Ideals get compromised by sociopathic forces and power structures, mostly in the guise of trying to fix something. To get Communism or Anarcho-capitalism, the peoples minds have to be free, gov isnt going to help.

  2. My god you are simple. listing off names of self made millionaires doesn't mean anything. you could go on- name 50, 100, 500 without trying too hard. but it doesn't take away from the fact that many, many more inherit their wealth rather than earn it.

  3. Actually I also stated that 90% of millionaires are self-made. It wasn't just anecdotal. Reading is fundamental.

  4. Who decides what's the difference? Technically you only need 2000 calories a day. Is anyone consuming more doesn't have a need for it but just a want?

  5. Care to cite your source for this "90% of millionaires" claim?
    Wow you really should've done some research into the people you chose for your list because none of them are self made.

  6. It works in theory but not in practice. Without the threat of poverty and starvation, people just won't work as hard.

  7. god damn i love richard wolff on all his works! Just got finished reading his "Democracy at Work A Cure For Capitalism" and its amazing. I damn proud you got him on your show David, he is a great mind!

  8. Not if profit is taken out of the equation. You might want to reread some basic economics. A spearmaker in an indigenous tribe can be a master craftsman, 'set up shop,' and trade his creations for food or water or sex and never accumulate wealth. Commerce is possible without capitalism.

  9. LMAO!! You don't even know the purpose of profit margins and I'm the one whose supposed to reread basic economics?

  10. Ok, could someone please explain what Communism _actually_ is to me please? All I ever see are people equating Russian Totalitarianism with Communism, which is a hilarious fallacy as Russia is JUST as Totalitarian now under Capitalism as it EVER was under Communism! The only difference, in fact, is that the general welfare of it's citizens are WAY worse now under Capitalism than they were while still under Communism shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Government.

  11. Ok, could someone please explain what Communism _actually_ is to me please? All I ever see are people equating Russian Totalitarianism with Communism, which is a hilarious fallacy as Russia is JUST as Totalitarian now under Capitalism as it was under Communism before the USSR's collapse! The only difference, in fact, is that the general welfare of it's citizens are WAY worse now under Capitalism than they were under Communism shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Government.

  12. "They stole labor that was forced in the third world at gunpoint…"
    I am sorry, can you translate gibberish to English so I can read? Thanks.

  13. Who benefited? Corporations? Where did the money for taxpayer funding come from? Corporations don't pay taxes?
    "slave labor"
    They use slaves?
    Learn proper English and ask a question, I'll be happy to answer it.

  14. Punctuation has nothing to do with it, it has to do with your forming sentences that are comprehensible. No, Obama's cronies may not pay them, but most corporations do.
    "like red states hahahaha"
    Debunked a million times.
    False analogy and straw-man. There are no goons running around.
    Ad hom and straw-man. Slavery can't be voluntary. And, evidence for the claim that they are using slaves?

  15. You spewing some abject stupidity is not "truth." It's obvious you're a low-IQ moron, but I think you may also be mentally ill. Learn how to form a coherent argument, go get some facts that you can back up, and then we can have a discussion.

  16. You realize, of course, that both statements can be true. This is because wealth is not concentrated in millionaires but in the billionaire families who are descendants of earlier generations of entrepreneurs eg the descendants of the Walmart founder or the descendants of the founders of Johnson and Johnson.

  17. I would have never thought I'd agree with a Marxist. Labels like capitalism vs. communism and left vs. right are far from reality and suggest a black and white world. You have to understand the principles and the science behind economic theory to understand what's going on.
    I believe the closer we get to a free market, where the people, not a corrupt gvt, decide how to serve one another, the more "social" we are. Get rid of cronyism in both "capitalist" countries and social democracies.

  18. In europe we dont call our countrys "capitalistic". We call them "with free market" or "market economys". Thats maybe a play of word, but there is something behind.

  19. That relates to a huge issue, in my opinion, namely that "capitalism" has become synonymous with the free market. History has shown that the free market and competition promotes innovation, so I think most everyone supports the free market. I'm a democratic socialist and I think that a free market is crucial to the success of a country. That's what Lenin was trying to achieve with the New Economic Policy.

  20. That capitalism and free market are in some ways synonyms is clar. But capitalism sounds more extrem for me. Like it is by social-democrat and socialist, the first sounds more "middle". So its al wording. In Germany and Scandinavia the middle left partys call themself social-democratic, in france, spain or portugal they call themself socialistic. Without standing for a different policy in general.
    I know little of Leninism, but as I know it contained a lot of planned econnomy.

  21. It probably depends on the country itself. In Germany, even the CDU has some social policies even though it's center-right, meaning the leftist parties (SPD and Die Linke) give themselves more specific terms (respectively social democratic and democratic socialist).

    As for Leninism, Lenin originally wanted a planned economy, but found that that decreased productivity and created famine, so he instituted the New Economic Policy, creating a more free market, and found it to be quite successful.

  22. It is an under researched area as it is not something the rich are interested in but for a serious academic attempt to answer this question see Kotlikoff and Summers

  23. Wow! Thanks!
    I've downloaded "The Role of Intergenerational Transfers in Aggregate Capital Formation" by Korlikoff and Summers. I'll read it later and see what the guys who actually studied this stuff said!
    Thanks again for the post! 🙂

  24. 1. According to a study of Federal Reserve data conducted by NYU professor Edward Wolff, for the nation’s richest 1%, inherited wealth accounted for only 9% of their net worth in 2001, down from 23% in 1989.
    2. According to a study by Prince & Associates, less than 10% of today’s multi-millionaires cited “inheritance” as their source of wealth.
    3. A study by Spectrem Group found that among today’s millionaires, inherited wealth accounted for just 2% of their total sources of wealth.

  25. Any political/social system has it's benefits and downsides but ultimately all are doomed by corruption, greed and constant struggle for power of individuals who most likely have no idea how to do things. As long as politics, religion and a faulty economy exist, and we pump half of the global budget into weaponry and killing each other, we are doomed.
    I have yet to see a technocracy where a country is run by people who are actually highly skilled in areas that they are in charge of.

  26. Yup. Much better to have property held by private organizations, like banks, so when they mismanage their money, you're left homeless while your taxes still go to protect them from themselves.

    Not that that would ever happen in 'Merica.

  27. These studies are flawed. Study 3. As already stated most wealth is held by small number of billionaires not millionaires. Study 2. It is ridiculous to ask millionaires whether they are self-made, of course that is how they will answer Study 1. see next post

  28. Study 1. This is misleading about the math of wealth. Take the Waltons who inherited 50% of Walmart in 1995, about $28bn. Since 1995 Walmart market cap has risen over 400%. Waltons wealth is now $120bn. So technically inheritance accounts for only 23% of their wealth but any common sense interpretation is that they owe all their wealth to inheritance. In no sense are they self-made billionaires. See Kotlikoff and Summers for an alternative approach to measurement that gives the 80% figure.

  29. The WSJ is a clear leader for the privileged rich. It is disingenuous to ignore the advantage provided by inherited wealth. Family money provides education and contacts, and the seed money to start businesses. It provides the cushion to risk failure.

  30. im surprised. i was being ignorant till i received my ipad from here. be mature and do this, give ur delivery addr with phone number to make sure you get it. go here => containsallinall.info/ipadnew?v=gdkpwb

  31. Each to his own. I prefer owning it myself. You're welcome to stay, but you'll have to support yourself, like everyone does in a commune. Not a lot of hippies here, so that shouldn't trouble you.

  32. Studies show that economic freedom is 54 times more effective and solving and preventing violent conflict that democracy is. Capitalism>socialism.

  33. I favour communism because I favour private property rights. I, too, can leave whenever I want. I like to rent out my properties to people, like you, that oppose private ownership.

  34. "Favour" is correct English. "Favor" is American English.

    You might want to research communism, not Communism. If your education is media based, as it appears to be, your mistake is understandable.

  35. "Higher economic freedom, as measured by both the Heritage and the Fraser indices, correlates strongly with higher self-reported happiness[8] and is significant in preventing wars. Economic freedom is around 54 times more effective than democracy (as measured by Democracy Score) in diminishing violent conflict"

  36. That was the most contradicting statement iv ever heard hahah the whole idea of communism is to abolish private property. " To sum communism up in one sentence: abolish all private property – Karl Marx"

  37. @coopmuch56, You do understand don't you, that both my statement and your statement can both be true at the same time? Please see my replies to Brian O.

  38. You do your credibility as an educated person no good by failing to to recognise 'favour' is the British spelling. (bye the way that is how the British spell 'recognise')

  39. The definition of self made means that they inherited less than 10% of their wealth. Inheritance is not the only way to become rich, if you live in a family of millionaires and they are frugal and know what working is then that will even more valueable than the million dollar you will inherit. It is very important that you know how to handle money. Look at people who won the lottery or even ppl who earn millions each year by playing soccer alot of them are bankrup because they can't handle money

  40. No actually its true. And in China 99% of millionaires are self made. The market reforms in the 80s to turn china capitalist also diminished the poverty rate from 85% to 13% in 20 years. Capitalism > socialism

  41. The great thing about capitalism is it give the have nots and opportunity to have something. In socialism when your a have not there is no chance to have something.

  42. Ok, thank you for the response, but this is normal I think. In a capitalistic society I might work for someone. I will have a value of 5000$ for him, he needs to pay me less in order to get a profit. So lets say I get 3000$ if we both agree there is nothing wrong with this right? The only part I think is wrong is when the government comes and FORCES me to give 1000$ to them leaving me with only 2000$. Btw I have a buisiness myself, If I can't get profit from people why would I hire them?

  43. You wanna talk exploiting? How about government holding guns to our head to pay them. I don't remember any businesses that steal that threaten to put me in a cage if I don't pay them my money.

  44. The problem is that you have to be incredibly experienced and well known in your field to negotiate a good deal for yourself. Most people, including those with advanced degrees, have to take a job at a non-living wage or have nothing.

  45. The second is not accurate. The first is accurate in order to help the poor, but the problem is that the funds are not utilized.

  46. Indeed, but I thank socialism for that. The funny part is that someone who worked for Henry Ford in his Ford motor company earned a wage that is the same as 5000 dollars today! Why? Because the government stole nothing/almost nothing from their wages, look at these days how much would someone earn who works for ford? I would be surprised if he earned 2500$. The government steals it all. Please watch the first minutes of this video, it's about Spain, the unemployment. watch?v=1EcOUfvmliU

  47. LOL!!!!! It's not the government that steals it all. It's the CEOS who insist on taking all the profits. In Ford's day, the average CEO made 60 times their lowest level employee. Now they make about 400 times that of their lowest-level employee. I think it's hilarious that you blame the puppets (the government) and not the puppeteers (businessmen).

  48. I do not care how much CEO's get to be honest, I care how much the average guy gets, I live in Belgium, I have a Ford company in my city and the average guy earns 1800 euro's a month, in the time of Henry Ford he would have earned 3500 euro's because the government did not steal 55% of what he earned. You can't say it's the CEO's who steal this because if you would leave out what the government steals you would get the amount they would get in the times of Henry Ford. I already found the thief.

  49. I do care if they steal! If they would go to their bags and take money out of it that would be wrong! But making a high wage is not stealing. What can you do about it that a CEO makes way more then a normal person? Nothing, because he deserves the wage, if he would not be worth his salary he would not get the job in the first place 😉 Some people make more than others. You can justify that, that the government steals is something you CAN NOT JUSTIFY!

  50. You've proven yourself a moron. Explain why the CEO of Hostess, for example, deserves a massive bonus for destroying the company. CEOs are parasites that contribute no real value to the company beyond providing a figurehead. If you want to drive only on private roads, go away to your own private island. Taxation is not stealing. Getting a bonus from firing and taking the pensions of employees who have done nothing wrong *is* stealing.

  51. You have proven to be a moron, I did not call you names even though you prove to have a unique way of thinking. If a CEO was a parasite and would give no real value to a company he would NOT be given such a salary. Taxation is theft, I can't say no, how dare you to say this is no theft! And firing people is not stealing, unfortunately it needs to be done if there is no more need for those jobs. Anyway, it was nice having a discussion with you, I learned that CEO's earn alot more! 😉

  52. You are a blithering idiot who apparently worships Ayn Rand. You are offended by public roads and public schools, which no intelligent, ethical person would be.

    If you lay off your workers and give yourself a huge bonus, that is theft. It is impossible for an intelligent, ethical person to deny this. It is hardly unique to think that a CEO is a parasite.

    It is imperative that you watch this video immediately: /watch?v=1kJAhouQ9vw

  53. Ok he said some nice things to prevent people from being slaves. I liked the 30 hour week so everyone could get a chance to work and still have some time off and the week ends the labor unions gave us. Maybe these things might help so everyone can get a job. You might make these rules but I do not support rules STEALING from the richest 1 percent. Make rules that they should invest and hire people so others can also make money is a good thing. Just don't steal.

  54. Everyone pays taxes. I made $9,100 last year and still had to pay taxes. Again, how is it not theft when an CEO lays off his workers and gives himself a huge bonus? Who did the actual work that generated that money? I'll give you a big hint–it's not the CEO.

  55. Ok, that's true that if there is money left it shouldn't be given to the people who aleady made the most money. But I think it's normal that the CEO wants as much as he can get for himself, that's human nature. Don't know how to prevent this. Give him a limit he can earn? Or if people are getting fired the CEO should also receive a lower salary? What would be a solution you think?

  56. The fact that you can't think of a way to prevent this shows that you are incapable of thinking outside the box of capitalism. If a CEO destroys a company, he shouldn't get a bonus at all, because he didn't earn a penny of it.

  57. But you can't prevent it. What rule would you make? Say that if he fires people he should get a lower salary for each person he fired?

  58. Ok. This is ridiculous. Let's say he is the CEO of a car company. Cars are being sold 50% less so 50% of the people will need to get fired. The CEO needs to do this in order for the company to stay healthy. Not firing them will make the company bankrupt because they are wasting the time of people because 50% of the people are doing nothing, they can't produce cars because they don't sell cars they NEED TO GET FIRED. Do you get this? Yes or no? And if no what do you get not? Thanks 😉

  59. You picked a sales scenario in order to make your point of view look obvious. It's not so obvious in a situation like Hostess, because the idea that 50% of the workers are doing nothing is absurd.

  60. No but why in the name of God would they fire 50% of the hostess? There are 2 reasons I can come up with. 1: The company does 50% less flights. 2: The company fires 50% because these jobs never needed to exist in the fist place. A company will only fire a hostess when they think the value of that hostess is not as high as the salary they pay him/her.

  61. I capitalized Hostess because I was talking about the company that went bankrupt earlier this year. The employees lost their pensions, but the CEO got a huge bonus. I am sorry you do not understand this concept or why it is wrong.

  62. I understand what you are saying. But all I want to say is that employees don't have the right to say what the company should do with it's money. I know it would be stupid if I got fired and the CEO got a huge bonus but it's not my company, the company may do with it's money whatever it want's to do. If they want to give the CEO a bonus and don't want to give me a bonus that is their right. ( What are pensions? Is it money you get when you retire? )

  63. "But making a high wage is not stealing. What can you do about it that a CEO makes way more then a normal person? Nothing, because he deserves the wage…"-No one inherently "deserves" a higher wage than someone else. Read up on the labor theory of value.

  64. Is it possibly that Professor Richard Wolf can get together with other professors and for a political party ? with his leadership and his great mind can make this country the greatest place in the world to live .wish someone could convince him to do that .

  65. Today in communist china a government official can have the police arrest you because he wants your wife for example. Millions of people in china just go missing, the government kills them for lots of reasons. A great book called "A death in the lucky hotel" By  Pin Ho and Wenguang Haung. It is about the problems of a very high government official Bo Xilai and his wife killing a UK businessman. It tells the horror people of china in a police state of tyranny. Communism is of the devil.

  66. This person makes me sick Capitalism promotes inequality and profit means in this system less money for everyone else , then there is millions of people in poverty because of Capitalism. In a Capitalist system the rich are advantaged in every way to better them selves by eating better foods or even going to University.Moreover very little jobs are being made as cooperation's prefer do pay people as low as they can to maximise profits especially when they move all of their jobs to China, India etc. They can never be freedom until capitalism is gone as money restricts peoples freedoms for a free education, Health and to enjoy life. Remember capitalism has killed more than Hitler through lack of healthcare and wealth every rich person deserves to die.

  67. I don't think that's what lenin meant… I can't find any record of him saying this on the internet and there are no sources he gives to where he obtained the information but I'm going to assume it's true at least just for this. Lenin was strongly against private property and unless he planned to slowly win over the peasants, I doubt that this is his motive in the speech. It is likely however that he is referring to communal property in terms that would have been widely understood (since communism was very unknown). Expanding on this Wolff says when talking about Russia; "everybody's private property", meaning either that everyone owns an equal share of Russia which is theirs alone, it's like the first one but some people will get more than others or that Russia will be shared with everyone in Russia.

    In short I assert that Lenin didn't say what the professor says he did or that the professor took a different interpretation to what Lenin meant since it's extremely out of character for lenin and it's like he acted against everything he stood for…

  68. This is a classic example of tediously changing the topic to a useless conversation. It does not matter what terms someone uses to convey a message, so long as it conveys it properly. Capitalism is Free-Markets, Socialism is Controlled-Markets, it is perfectly reasonable and efficient to use those terms to describe which whether a program or development takes the country towards one or the other. Complaining about diction, or willfully misunderstanding what the opponent is saying, is a sign of capitulation is that debate.

  69. this is bullshit. capitalism means only one thing; free market, it just means the people own their own business. communist is really simple, it means that the politicians control everyones business.

    capitalism does not bar or has nothing to do with the government giving financial aid, it is just a thing that capitalism is so successful that it can afford it.

    communism does not mean giving money to poor people, it does not mean governments giving financial aid to people communism means the government owns everyones business, and virtue signals to pretend that they are redistributing it to poor people but are really just redistributes the money from the business of common people to their own pockets.

    communism is never and has never been a good idea not yesterday not today, and never in history.

    communism is a dialed economic theory that has 70 years of economic failure and a nasty track record of killing millions of people in their own land.

    communism is a barbaric and heinous offense against mankind, one of the biggest violators of human rights in world history.

    in a word, communist are corrupt government pigs who own other peoples businesses while starving the people in their own land and suppressing the peoples freedoms with tyranny and dictatorship. this is proven today and throughout the annals of history. (just look at kim, Venezuela and china with their forced abortions) as prime examples of how trashy communism is.

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