On Contact: Capitalism in Crisis with Richard Wolff

Hansa Rostock Chris Hedges welcome to on contact today we'll discuss the crisis within global capitalism with economist Richard wolf anyone who thinks that keeping England out of the European Union is some kind of guarantee that things will go better than they were before that's all fantasy that has nothing to do with what this is about this is a fundamental expression of a mass anger of the working class all over the world against what is being done to a capitalism that I think has run out again uncon do liberalism Lister's patriot the truth is not for for down taupey an ideology of neoliberalism revolts on masks on Congress on contract Chris Harris hedges the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 assured in an era of capitalist triumphalism neoliberal economic policies swept into the void left behind but nearly two decades later capitalism itself as in crisis the 2008 global financial crash the draconian programs of austerity and deindustrialization have shattered the belief that society should be built solely around the needs of the market the public good a cornerstone of democracy has been abandoned leading to a breakdown in social cohesion citizens across the globe are rising up they are speaking in a negative vocabulary the capacity to say no to refuse to cooperate in their own exploitation they understand like Aristotle that wealth is desirable but not at the price of treason anya parm pill examines how brexit fits into the unraveling of global capitalism bring shocked the political and pundit class last month when they voted by a narrow margin to leave the European Union they ignored calls from their then Prime Minister David Cameron who urged a vote to remain leading to his resignation on the night of the vote however his replacement Theresa May also the Conservative Party and opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also campaigned to remain instead they follow the lead of this man leader of the UK Independence Party or you kept Nigel Faraj as well as former London Mayor Boris Johnson who will serve as foreign secretary under may so who exactly voted to leave 52% of British residents as opposed to the 48 percent who voted to remain the vote to leave Mosley came from England and Wales though London voted 60% in favor of remain Northern Ireland and Scotland also held on to the idea of remaining in Europe the results prompted Scotland's first Minister Nicola Sturgeon to declare a second vote or referendum on Scottish independence maybe imminent so that the nation doesn't have to leave when it comes to the parties 58 percent of conservative voters were in favor of brexit while 60% of those in labour were opposed 70 percent of Liberal Democrats voted to remain and 96 percent of you kept members voted to leave globally the markets the media and politicians responded with shock proving this vote more than anything further defined the divide between those elites and the average vote thank you I'm Richard wolf is professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a visiting professor at the new school University in New York he is the author of democracy at work a cure for capitalism his latest book is capitalism's crisis deepens thank you right thank you let's begin with because you've been writing about this for some years this disintegration of global capitalism where does brexit fit well the disintegration really takes a quantitative leap in 2008 with that collapse the second worst since the Great Depression for capitalism a very unstable system anyway and the response to that crisis is really where the brexit story begins namely you've had years of a constriction of the position of working people in a capitalism that is finding it harder and harder to solve its problems so you react to the crisis of 2008 by bailing out the big banks and the big corporations and by imposing austerity well I'll get to that you'd bail them out but how do you do it you have to borrow a lot of money so you borrow a lot of money and then you go to your people and say we borrowed a lot of money we got to deal with this debt and then the austerity becomes not how we pay for the bailout which is what it is but instead how we deal with the deficit as if the deficit was the problem rather than the bailout that made it happen so you've had years of austerity the real wages in Britain for example are lower today than they were in 2005 so you've had like a decade of lost growth of lost opportunity the British people like all Europeans are facing lower wages jobs with fewer benefits less secure employment and a cutback of government services just when they need them most there's a difference in terms of our economic system and their economic system there's of course being governed under the EU and that is that governments cannot borrow to cover deficits which we did and they didn't yes absolutely but the austerity is the story of brexit the people in Britain didn't vote for or against membership in Europe I mean that was the ostensible but that was not why they arrived at the voting booth because the truth of it is they had austerity from David Cameron and the Conservatives and in Europe it's the same policy so that the difference there is marginal and they had just witnessed what Europe was prepared to do to Greece they could imagine what it would be prepared to do to them so this was rather an opportunity for the British to express the accumulated rage and what is being done to them a system that isn't working very well that's confirmed confronting them with decline and pressures in a downward way and they've had it they no longer can be told it's just a couple of years will get us out of the woods because it isn't changing and the prospect for their children getting worse and worse so there's a built-up anger and I think it's no different from what might support a Trump what might support in its own way a Bernie Sanders what might be doing in other parts of Europe similar kinds of things because people don't know quite where to turn and how to solve the problem but capitalism as their system is becoming more and more unbearable and I think that's what these events illustrates the irony though is that countries like Greece countries in Eastern Europe Poland for instance are actually suffering an economic contraction that is worse isn't it than what's being happened in in countries like Britain absolutely because it's always the weakest link it's the country that has the least resources to fall back on the least connections to where there still might be some viable activity look Western capitalism both the United States Western Europe and even Japan is moving to where it's more profitable China India Brazil and all of that that's been going on for 30 years that continues and what they leave behind is residue they're not going to spend money on it they're not going to pay taxes to take care of it and there's this slowly emerging awareness of the mass of people that that's what's being dished out to them and that's a process of decades not years and it's beginning I think to become an awareness that they have and they're beginning the serious search and it could go left-wing it could go right wing for what to do about how to fight back but a vote like brexit like a decision of the French trade unions to say no to the very Prime Minister they put a note on the president they put in office this is a sign that people are not anymore willing to believe that it's going to be alright there's a rage against the very individual when around put his whole political career online was defeated Hollande has getting polling numbers now like George Bush in the last months of his presidency it is it is revulsion it is anger it is bitterness its expresses itself though often an anti-immigrant sentiment which is the Economist Michael Hudson I think correctly points out he is really a direct legacy of the endless war that has been waged by the United States primarily in the Middle East which has created these failed States in countries like Libya and Iraq Syria and this massive infusion of immigrants into Europe which has exacerbated these economic tensions and I think fueled the ideology of the right-wing we were seeing now in countries for instance like Poland Croatia and others which have really shifted to very kind of very frightening you know rightist almost proto-fascist governments I agree with it but I wouldn't come at it slightly differently I think it's difficult for the mass of people to get their heads still now around the notion that it's capitalism this system for two 300 years governing Europe and so it's kind of easier to think the problem is the immigrant right and to be angry at the immigrant lord knows they have the history of that it's a convenient scapegoat it's easy but I don't think we'll overcome that kind of scapegoat ISM until people realize and and there are folks like me that work on this that it is a systemic problem it isn't conjuncture all it isn't these these immigrants are those they're like you're not going to be in a better shape if you got rid of them it's it's a fantasy that substitutes for what you have to face but it's a very effective fodder in the hands of Kennedy all proto-fascist movements seek to blame it on the vulnerable you know whether it's Muslims or undocumented workers or immigrants or whatever that then that's kind of what we're seeing with the the rise of a figure like Trump I mean and we've seen you know with marine lepen we've seen some the growth some Golden Dawn we've seen some very frightening movements react to this and at the same time the left seems very weak I mean you know where are the Socialists in France they're certainly not represented by the mainstream Socialist Party or by Francois Hollande no and the spectacle in France of these last several months the streets of Paris whether he's tried to they've tried to rollback the labor rows change the labor laws in ways that every employer would welcome that every unionist would fight and you have the spectacle of a socialist president calling in the military and the police to beat on the very students and workers that voted that man into office you're watching the self destruction of European socialism like you had in Greece now you have in France these are all symptoms and signs of a system use it it was mechanisms of reproducing itself or not working it's like the destruction of the Democratic Party in the same way when it turned on turned against the working class on behalf of corporate interests yeah and I think that you're going to see a kind of reshaping of politics instead of a two-party model it'll be at least three you're going to have a right wing a left wing and the middle that is the shrinking leftover of what was dominant in the last 30 to 40 years I think you see that emerging out of the fog and it will the then a question of whether the left can really come up with a plan right will return after a short break with the Economist Richard wolf welcome back let's continue our conversation with professor of economics Richard wolf so Rick let's talk a little bit about why this breakdown of capitalism manifests itself in these right-wing sentiments anti-immigrant sentiments authoritarian state sentiments well I think there are many reasons as there always are but I'd like to stress one I think we're having a kind of return of a subordinated part of people's consciousness what I mean is there's long been an awareness on the part of the mass of people that the capitalist system is a system that is very good for a relatively small part of the population and very costly for everybody else as long as there's enough to distribute around maybe you tolerate it but when there isn't as there isn't now in North America Western Europe and Japan then it becomes onerous to see the wealth concentrated the way it is and I think to make a long story short the problem now is a dysfunctional capitalism leaves the mass of people with two choices to turn against the system to bring forward in their minds the criticism they've always had which now feel urgent or to find a scapegoat and the powers that be they have a clear preference as how this should go so you're gonna find out I think you already see it that people who don't particularly share hostility the immigrants look the other way find a reason not to be too critical find a basis for an alliance with the scapegoat specialists the right-wing because they are afraid of the left they're afraid that the anti capitalism will coalesce around a party or a figure an important figure and then have the muscle because it has supporting the population they didn't expect brexit they didn't expect these referendums to go this way they're learning that they're out of touch with the mass of people and that mass is anti-capitalist and it probably is only a matter of time and they know it before that coalesce is into a political force but are we seeing for instance the rhetoric of an Obama the rhetoric of a Clinton is to denounce this racialized anti-immigrant expressions that that come out of the candidate Donald Trump yeah but you know I think I give you a counter example that struck me in the horror of that Orlando massacre that happened Trump right away made it up as if it were a Muslim issue I had something to do with Muslims which it didn't and mrs. Clinton felt she had to come in with a softer version of the same thing so what I'm sensing is they're critical of that to hold on to their political base in immigrant communities but they're not really fundamentally different about it they just want to take it softer and the easier and you could see it in the immigration debates in the United States Congress and elsewhere so my sense is there not yet ready to go full tilt away the right is but all they're offering as I do on every issue is a is a messed up middle position that can't be for I'm a always have to keep it as though it's about immigrants rather than explaining which the left I would hope would do that this is a displacement this question of immigrants from a fundamental systemic problem that unites all the people working native workers immigrant workers in a system that is tearing them both apart so let's back off a bit and put brexit in context of the disintegration of capitalism over the last few years because it's just one piece of a kind of nonlinear breakdown I think it's happening everywhere that's why I think it's important to talk about the struggle in Paris even though ostensibly it's a different matter it's a labor law that makes it easier for employers to hire and fire to impose overtime obligations and so on but it's again pitting what in France is called a putana the the ruling class for lack of a better translation against the mass of people students who began it the nuit debout students staying up all night and now the CGT the most important Federation of Labor and you're seeing it in Italy as they be the Democratic Party in Italy named after RR and the Italian banking system yeah is falling apart over how to deal with this Italian banking system whether to go along as they did back in December with a bail in with this business in which a failed bank can take its depositors money to help it out of 18 percent of the Italian 18 percent of outstanding loans in Italian banking is non-performing that is the camp a attack Italy is now entering into a fundamental delayed by a few years because they're not as poor as Greece and not as poor as Portugal and Ireland but now the big ones are falling down like Italy Spain is already half way there it's only left with France and Germany it's beginning a shrinking circle of what can survive and I think that's the sign that a capitalism is circling the wagons around its strongest members and letting everybody go sort of like in the United States the image that we have of Cleveland a downtown glitzed up with renovation to be the backdrop of the Republican convention but if you go three blocks in any direction you have one of the poorest cities in the United States with poverty levels I saw the statistics of population in Cleveland because I it's so dramatic 900,000 people in 1960 380,000 people today it boggles the mind what you have done to destroy an urban culture in that area all of which will be faked by the renovation of a downtown Center it's that's Europe now the American economy has a special component called imperialism which makes us different in a way from Europe and perhaps the situation becomes for that reason even more deadly yeah we're very dependent on that international connection in many many different ways and it is being stretched to because as the system doesn't work I mean take a step back when you move production massively as we have for the last 30 years from Western Europe North America and Japan into China the whole point and purpose of it was to take advantage of very cheap wages so you've replaced basically expensive workers with cheap workers which means the purchasing power of the working-class viewed globally has been dramatically dropped and the wealth of the people at the top dramatically increases throw in there the way that they attempt to cover it is through debt peonage debt that's right keep the people in the United States and Europe happy by either government borrowing that then pays them or personal borrowing and all of that but you know as has been written by more than a few critics of capitalism this is a temporary fix because in the end you then produced output that the mass of the people cannot buy back after they've exhausted their low wages and they can't borrow anymore that's where we are right and there's no way out of this except those who have will hold on tighter to what they have and everybody else is in the in the water trying to survive very danger situation especially for a population that can't see what I just said as its problem right they will then look for angry at this politician vote for that part but it it's all treading water because it's a systemic problem and we're not quite yet there at seeing and I think I've heard you say that you know because Wall Street was essentially you know bloated with federal money it's back at its games of casino capitalism which are not sustainable absolutely you see it everywhere I be in Italy to take the example because it's now the the key player they're in desperate shape their banks cannot function that the capital the banks is nowhere near enough to deal with the non-performing loans so they can't get back the money that the depositors and creditors gave them so Renzi the the leader in Italy turns to the Europeans and say you've got to help me give me 40 billion euros and the Europeans take one look at his situation and they gave 160 do we mean the Germans we leave the Germans with their European outfit I know the irony of Germany that's a whole other discussion you're seeing a dominance of Europe by Germany achieved by financial breakdown of capitalism much more successfully than the military power of Adolf Hitler was able to do and that cannot be lost on the mass of the European people because World War two is still too fresh in the collective memory but back to Italy the banking's they asked for 40 billion the Europeans gave one hundred and sixty billion why because they can't stand politically for another bailout to come they don't want to hear from a giving Italians quickly a lot of money pretend it wasn't there because another dramatic moment where the failed capitalist financial sector comes to the public to be bailed out is not politically sustainable the mass of people suffering will explode as it didn't brakes it in a little way it will now explode even in Germany the working class has been squeezed right and they too have their grievances they cannot be told we can't help you because we're busy bailing out failed banks in Italy it will not work so where we had it where we gonna go well this is something that you and I have discussed before but I am now of a new opinion that I've really only come to lady this system is falling apart I'm not alarmist I haven't thought that before I thought that my life would come to an end given my age before I'd see that I thought it would happen eventually eventually has just come a lot closer to me it isn't working on a scale that is astonishing they don't know what to do the out of touchid nosov the of the Cameron government in England with what was happening campaigning like blazes right to the last day didn't have a clue what was going on I don't think mr. Hollande has a policy and he's doing crazy things to please the the business community that has always hated it right what is he doing what what is the Trump phenomena beyond the strangeness of it it is the conventions the assumptions the things behaving normally it's all falling apart and I think these are signs of a society entering into a period of extraordinary instability explosive disturbing events shifts in consciousness it's that famous saying you know beware if you live in interesting times because they're going to be difficult and that's what I see happening and I see it in the economic realities all around me and that could express itself in you know very frightening absolutely and they'll in terror everybody is trying to take advantage of it you know the most conservative politicians in England are now figuring out how they can make something out of this Briggs at experience to get them into power anyone who thinks that keeping England out of the European Union is some kind of guarantee that things will go better than they were before that's all fantasy that has nothing to do with what this is about this is a fundamental expression of a mass anger of the working class all over the world against what is be done to a capitalism that I think has run out of gas great professor of economics Richard Wolff thank you for joining me every utopian promise made by neoliberal ideologues has turned out to be a lie democratic institutions have been weakened or destroyed economic inequality has gotten worse the rights and wages of the working-class have fallen into precipitous decline labor regulations the protection of our manufacturing base as well as labor unions have been demolished corporations have used the destruction of trade barriers to carry out what is in essence a tax boycott the aim of the corporate state is not to feed clothe or house the masses but to shift all economic social and political power as well as wealth into the hands of a tiny corporate elite this corporate elite achieves its aims of greater and greater profit by weakening and dismantling government agencies taking over or destroying public institutions charter schools mercenary armies a for-profit health care system and outsourcing feed the corporate beast at our expense neoliberalism the most grotesque form of capitalism has created a world that is defined exclusively by the naked self-interest of the elites and it is world a growing number of its victims now openly reject thank you for watching you can find us on our t-dot-com slash on contact until next week

  1. Great reporting EXCEPT .. the British corporate press was TWO to ONE for bloody LEAVE the EU .. the British public did not buck they went WITH the elites. Plus the main party that voted leave was the Conservatives (the party of the rich) NOT Labour (the party of the poor) .. THIS WAS NOT A WORKERS REVOLT.

  2. Is this capitalism, socialism, american way of Life or just paranoia? https://youtu.be/cZ8ABMT3tPI

  3. I might believe this if it weren't on Russian Television. The purpose behind RT is to sow discord among the American population.

  4. Do not forget the enemy's motto: Ordus et seclorum, order out of chaos. If I'm not mistaken.
    I think they want more chaos so they can introduce true tyranny.

  5. Mr. Wolfe I like very much what you say and I am disturbed by Trump tariffs. I agree with Trump on everything else he is doing but not on tariffs because cutting taxes will benefit rich and poor by creating jobs, and getting those jobs but tariffs are hurting poor people by not having cheap products to buy. I am an inventor with 5 great products ready for manufacturing but all are declined by USA companies and government does not pay any attention to my products, which are:
    1) Green car engine (no pollution and is not electric)
    2) Intelligent car differential. (has all wheels engaged with the engine all the time)
    3) Portable sauna (prevents and cures any diseases if used)
    4) Parallel Guided Power Saw. (can be seen on you tube)
    5) Healthy bicycle.
    I would like you to contact me and to present the persecution I suffer due to USA government. My email is [email protected]


  7. Chris Hedges you seem to be a great propagandist of the left. Talking down capitalism and the west just like a good putin puppet should. Haha.. Get lost

  8. What kind of income does an economist make an with all the shows Mr. Wolf is in thankgoodness he must be doing ok an I am always almost ready to hear him speak about impending dooomy & gloomy times further to come. Yippy!

  9. we need to return to pre 1980 Economically Progressive New Deal Policies to Reform and Regulate Capitalism

  10. He complains that captialism is undemocratic. But his Marxist solutions are even more undemocratic. We voted to leave the EU because we wanted to leave the EU and restore British democracy and soveignty – not as a protest against capitalism. He is trying to hijack the leave vote to suit his own means. It has nothing to do with it. This man is clever and dangerous, because unlike most socialists he seems to actually understand economics

  11. 2008 is the year the US government merged with most corporations, the crisis is intentional, banks get government's money, government get banks, they fused into one destructive power, they share the profit, thus, the US is officially a full grown fascist nation.

  12. Yo shut it we left becuse look at uk man full of tramps all are even the ones born here i see this country dying with in 50 years. Full of immigrants that work like slaves and they are killing our work standard. Do u know what a 0 hour contract is. Is morden day slavery. If this dose not work out then the uk is done for I'm telling u now fuck this govermant fuck the queen fuckk all this fake bullshit. We are slaves to Europe and Europe is slaves to American ever since ww2. Americans are the best at lying and hidding the truth. We are all dead i swear to god i get sceard and im a full grown man lost sheeps all i see is lost sheeps jumping at anything to try get rich quick. We are full of drugs what do u need give me 10 min and i will find it all over uk.

  13. We all know that the reason the Capitalists want immigrants is for cheap labour!!! We should stop buying their products and let them feel our pain!!! Fuck you!!!!

  14. Socialism is clearly the choice, then our economy can be as efficient as our public school system.

  15. ETell Americans not to buy anything but necessities. Save. Capitalists tell us to spend AND save! Double-minded is unstable.

  16. There never should have been any unequal wealth, it's caused by wage slavery which Americans can't believe is also slavery…or are they changing? Ferdinand Lundberg said in 1968 "automation is a threat to capitalism." (The Rich and The Super Rich). He shows America isn't a democracy, it's oligarchic (ruled by a few rich masters).

  17. The only man who ever explained socialism in a way I could tolerate. Wolff is vastly underappreciated as an economic intellectual.

  18. Lol, professor, lol…its not capitalism that is in crisis. Capitalism is doing just great. Its labor that is in crisis.

  19. Economist Dr. Richard D. Wolff's superb tube lectures: GLOBAL CAPITALISM (monthly 90 min) y ECONOMIC UPDATE (weekly 60min): WORKER CO-OPS self-run by workers must replace Capitalism. HOUSING CO-OPS must replace RE Speculators. TAX MUST FUND WELFARE so don't let gov take loans when gov must demand tax.

  20. It's a chaotic oscillator. Now the system is swinging back and forth with higher and higher amplitude until it finds a new equilibirum.

  21. Significant that Wolff speaks about England leaving EU in the introduction
    The UK is leaving the EU and comprises Scotland,Ireland,Wales and England.
    62% in Scotland voted to remain EU. England does not speak for Scotland

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *