Profesor de economía explica el socialismo PARTE 1:  (Socialism For Dummies)


each passing second okay let me turn then to the big topic for tonight and we may not have enough time for tonight but it even knows it’s a big enough topic the title was as capitalism’s crisis deepens thoughts of socialism return again so let’s talk about socialism in any American audience to even say what I just said let’s talk about socialism gets already scary vibrations surging through the room so I need to address those first I don’t want to lose you in the next few minutes we are a strange country in more ways than one but one of the strangest things about us is the weird taboo we have lived under for the last half-century which looking at most of you takes in most if not all of your lives what’s that taboo we can’t talk about socialism we can’t talk about socialism and compare it to capitalism we can’t do it it’s too scary any halfway reasonable attempt to look at socialism as one thing and capitalism as another and look at the strengths and weaknesses of the one and compare them to the strengths and weaknesses of you know that’s out we can have a debate about our education system we can have a debate about our health system we can have a debate about what marriage is these are pretty heavy topics but we cannot have a discussion about socialism and capitalism instead of a discussion we have what a cheerleading afternoon for capitalism and make peepee on socialism that’s what we do and I chose my words carefully because I want to suggest childishness we can’t the legacy of the Cold War even though the Soviet Union isn’t there anymore still with us you can’t do it it’s been a taboo to be interested in socialism meant for most of those years to be suspected of treason of disloyalty of evil without a name of apostasy of you name it that’s bad that’s what it is I like to tell the story I apologize for those who’ve you’ve heard it before that when I first began teaching as a young professor in this country I was flabbergasted because I be quickly understood that my students thought of socialist communist marxist anarchists and terrorists as synonyms and I made a mistake I said Jesus these are uneducated people it wasn’t that I mean I don’t want to say they were educated but it wasn’t that what it was was a reflection of American history back in the 1930s which isn’t exactly dinosaur era back in the 1930s socialists and communists were okay there were lots of people who were in the Socialist Party in the Communist Party and who told their friends and neighbors that they were socialists and communists because it was alright you know like it is in most European countries in fact in my part of my family’s French and my French family there’s communists and socialists and middle of the rotors and even people who read Lucy Gallo which if you know European newspapers it’s pretty right-wing paper but you know when the family picnic gets together the Communists and the right-winger are eating the same foie gras sandwich that’s a joke ok it’s very hard to demonize socialists and communists if your Aunt Mary is one it is hard and for Europeans they therefore don’t have this problem we managed to demonize them to root them out in the 1940s after the war and the government and the big business community was very clear that they had really taken it on the chin in the 1930s and the Great Depression was the New Deal which tax corporations in the rich to provide Social Security and unemployment benefit and minimum wages and government jobs and all of that they didn’t want that anymore and they knew they had to get rid of the coalition that made that possible the coalition of the Communist Party to socialist parties and the afl-cio um actually the CIO not so much the AFL they weren’t together then so they went after that coalition and they picked on the weakest link first the Communist Party and they destroyed them they converted them from militant leftists into agents of a foreign power and as soon as they got rid of the Communists they turned to the Socialists and they went to the American people and they said socialists you see are just like the Communists they just spell it differently which is why Americans think Communists and socialists all the same and they all carry bombs in their left rear pockets and they are hiding under your bed and they mean you and your puppy lots of harm so you really should watch out for them and you really should and keep away and so Americans have been good and docile cut off any invites all badness so it’s very hard to talk about socialism and has been for a long time on the other hand capitalism how do I say this politely hasn’t been doing too well for the last six seven years and it has no prospect of getting much better I don’t know if you saw the latest numbers of the economic growth of the United States in the last quarter well I shouldn’t call it growth because there wasn’t many and the numbers that came out today about Great Britain and Germany indicate they’re not going anywhere either so there’s no who’s a recovery nobody capitalism isn’t doing so well and then and then what happens people begin to say to themselves even Americans what else is there is there anything else what could it be and then dimly there’s a remembrance oh yeah there’s this other thing socialism scary but there it is but Americans are opening up and they have been for five years otherwise there’s no way on earth that a man who has with withheld nothing about his own self definition as a socialist Bernie Sanders could run for president that’s an amazing thing in its peculiar way that’s a little bit like I mean I know there’s many differences having a black an african-american run for president we were blown away eight years when that amazing thing happened and to have a man who who doesn’t deny that socialist pretty much covers his own sense of who he is is now running for office I should say not everyone agrees that he’s a socialist and not everyone even agrees that he’s Bernie Sanders i I I assume you all heard the story I can’t resist that Sarah Palin was corrected between our last meeting in this one for making a speech that indicated that her handlers the people the people who advised her I guess you we shouldn’t refer them as handlers anyway the people who advised her hadn’t been careful so she referred to the new entrant into the Democratic Party as Bernie Sanders so I want you to understand it’s not Bernie Sanders it’s Bernie Sanders that may make a difference to somebody who knows okay the word socialism first off the word socialism has meant many many different things and that has been true for hundreds of years but let’s deal with it today Bernie Sanders calls himself and is called by many others a socialist Barack Obama is called by many people a social no I mean that I think he’s called a social you all know that it’s it it happens now and it’s been happening ever since he became an important figure in American politics Hugo Chavez the former head of Venezuela referred to himself as a socialist the current French government the president Francois Hollande the majority in the Senate and the majority in the National Assembly all three branches of government are controlled by a majority of Socialist Party members who refer to themselves as socialists so mr. Hollande the socialist works out with mrs. Merkel the German conservative what the policy will be towards Greece speaking of which the government that imposed austerity and was thrown out by the people was the Greek socialist party which was replaced by serezha which defeated the Socialists and is called about the new york times a leftist party what was the socialist socialists are very important in many European governments socialist parties exist in every European country and in many cases are the second party or even the first party the Soviet Union is the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the People’s Republic of China refers to itself as a socialists whoa Castro’s a socialist this is confusing isn’t it so what is socialism there is no answer to that people who speak about socialism in the singular haven’t been paying attention socialism’s there are and they have been for a long time so let’s try to unpack where they come from and what what the story was and where the even the names come from and bear with me it’s a little bit of history but there’s no other way that I can think of to do this in a sensible manner the system before capitalism in Europe was called feudalism lords and serfs and feudal manners and all of that but it was a very organic society everybody knew their place you were a serf that meant your child was a serf everybody was born into a fixed place in a very well ordered society the people on top were the Lords and the folks who kept the peace between the Lord’s and the serfs were known as the church and there was a church and there was the lords and it was all everybody knew where he/she said it was a gendered organization it was a class organization was a religious and all into everybody had a place and when that system broke down we don’t have the time now deal with it and an alternative system began to develop and eventually made a violent revolution to destroy feudalism and open the space for itself that new system which we now call capitalism revolted against the old feudalism in two important ways one we don’t want lords and serfs none of that none of those old rules they trapped people in fixed identities you couldn’t break out it was very unfair etc etc etc we are gonna break and we’re gonna break in the following way everybody isn’t gonna have a place in society everybody’s gonna start at the same point everybody is going to be free everybody’s gonna have liberty to develop himself/herself in whatever we’re gonna focus not on the whole but on the individual it’s the celebration of individualism as the break out of capitalism the end of feudalism the freedom of the individual to do whatever he or she wanted as long as it none of her damn body else remember you learned that when you were seven you should have outgrown it when you were eight but in any case you learned it when you were seven and I don’t want to upset you about it and the revolutions made promises all revolutions do that and the capitalist revolutions made the promise well let’s pick the best of them the French Revolution 1789 liberty equality fraternity that you get rid of feudalism that’s what the Revolution was about remember they cut off the heads of the queens and kings which is a symbolic way of saying enough of that and we have a new system we’re separating people from their heads that’s a sign we don’t like what they represent so we’re going to overthrow feudalism bloody overthrow and we’re going to establish capitalism the system where any individual can do what he wants isn’t a surf don’t matter who you were born to you’re free you’re free of funeral obligations you’re free of that old rigid structured society it’s an individualist free-for-all and if we have capitalism we bring it in it is the embodiment of freedom in economics and it will usher in liberty equality and brotherhood fraternity 1789 by 1850 half a century later not very long capitalism is really settling in in Europe feudalism is dying what’s left of it but the people in Europe are discovering something they’re discovering that capitalism has indeed replaced feudalism but liberty equality and fraternity is nowhere in sight instead of the Lord and the serf we have the capitalist and the proletarian and they’re not getting more and more equal they’re getting well you know like now further and further apart and so there begins to be a criticism of capitalism what happens to all economic systems it develops critics slavery had critics feudalism had critics any system every system we know of eventually and it didn’t usually take very long had its critics capitalism having promised so much and having delivered much less literally developed its own criticism how could it not so people began to turn against this capitalism saying it didn’t bring liberty equality and fraternity didn’t bring it it’ll look like it was going to bring it was creating a whole new set of contradictions conflicts tensions the things we thought we would overcome and get beyond when we made the revolutions against feudalism it didn’t work out and what name did the critics come up with interesting they went after capitalism on the very point that capitalism was so proud about the individualism this new system had everybody doing whatever they could get away with I’m celebrating that its leading economists a Scottish gentleman who studied divinity so he was a ennobled Scottish gentleman Adam Smith a professor of religion came up with the following stunning idea you can see how useful it was if every person seeks to pursue their own self-interest it’ll all work out for the best for everybody Jesus that’s nice doesn’t that make you feel better I just have to take care of number one and it’ll be the best for everybody this is very comforting but as a principle to organize society oh my god are you a danger because it might turn out that if people go after what’s good for them and don’t care about the larger implications and the social consequences you could have a society that tears itself apart and there were philosophers way back then who warned about it Thomas Hobbes writes a book says you know this business with everybody pursuing their own self-interest that’s gonna make a society in which life is nasty brutish and short so what he won’t he wasn’t so pleased he didn’t think Adam Smith had this right not at all so what did the critics of capitalism come up with we’re not for the individual first and foremost we’re for the community first and foremost not the old kind of society the feudal we overthrew we’re not to that but a new one a society based on liberty equality and brotherhood first and the individual second and to call it something they came up with a name not individual but social not individualist social East you ever wonder why anti capitalism isn’t another ism that has to do with economics like capital because it’s not about the narrow economics it’s about a different vision of how you organize and understand what society is socialists were anti capitalists because they wanted this society as a whole its well-being its survival its growth its interrelationships among people to be the determinant the goal the standard of what’s successful as a society and what isn’t okay and that kind of a thinking starts at the end of the 18th century and it has precursors but at the end of the 18th century and gets really going in the 19th century as capitalism settles in its predates Marx for those of you that are interested in the Marxism part which is coming in a few minutes it predates Marx Marx is not didn’t start socialism or anything like that socialists and communists calling themselves that existed before Marx was born he learned about them as he grew up as a young student but these are not movements or ideas he invented absolutely not but he becomes very important he gets excited he feels betrayed Marx now he feel by the way I concentrate on Marx not for any other reason than simply that has become the most important tradition of anti-capitalist thought and action ever since Marx from eighteen eighteen 1883 dies in 1883 that means it’s only about 130 years roughly since Marx’s death and in that hundred and thirty years Marxism has spread to every country on this planet their Marxist journals and largest organizations and largest unions and Marxist political parties and Marxist professors and market you name it nothing will else functions quite like that Marxism has answered some extraordinarily wide interest in the world to have spread like that few movements in the history of human race have a history of that kind of spread that’s fast but by the way if you spread that to that many different cultures at that many different levels of cultural and historical and an economic development in a short amount of time of course you’re going to have different concepts of socialism and capitalism and communism because all these different people are trying to get their heads around what that all means and they’re gonna come up with different interpretations of mr. Marx’s writings therefore of course there are multiple socialism’s and communism the idea that all of that would have come up with one basic idea that everybody agrees to that’s too silly for words that couldn’t happen it never did happen the idea that there’s a single thing called Marxism or socialism or communism is a fantasy in the eyes of people who don’t know very much about this ok then March does come along and Marx is furious he says you know as a young man he says this by the way as a young man I thought the French Revolution was the greatest thing their rewards liberty equality fraternity that’s that’s what I want and I was ok with the capitalism because capitalism was gonna bring us that but it didn’t he says not only that when I look at it you know something capitalism isn’t the vehicle to do it because capitalism replaces the surf and the Lord with the proletarian and the capitalist and that’s the same impossible hostile contradictory arrangement so I still love liberty equality fraternity I still love the French Revolution Marx very clear about that but I got to tell you capitalism isn’t the way to get it capitalism is the obstacle preventing it and therefore we’ve got to get beyond capitalism if we’re gonna get liberty equality and fraternity this is not a complex argument and how we gonna do that Marx writes and thinks with his friend Freddie Freddie angles and they come up with an idea again then we’re not the only ones but they become so famous that we refer to them a lot a little bit later I’ll tell you about the difference between my Marxism and the other kinds but for the moment Marx and angles come up with an idea others do too how are we gonna change capitalism go beyond it what is that gonna mean and they don’t do very much with it because they don’t know how to guess about the future and you don’t believe in it we’re not prognosticators we don’t know what the future is gonna bring don’t ask us nobody does that’s what the word future means we don’t know but here’s what we have we think that you’d be closer to liberty equality and fraternity if the people who made the decisions in every workplace were all the workers who work there that is it a guaranteed everything will go well then no no no but if you want liberty equality and fraternity then stop having business organized so that a tiny group of people at the top the owners and the top managers have all the power and use their power to pick up most of the rewards of the business that isn’t all that surprising is it so if you want to go in the direction of more equitable distribution of the fruits of our labor if you want people I have the time the leisure the interest of knowledge to be in a society of liberty equality yup equality and brotherhood then we kind of got to be you all pretty much on the power that’s not as far as they went and that means we can’t leave the industry in the hands of the few who have it who own it and we can’t leave it in the hands of the few who manage it we can’t but they’re not gonna go quietly they like being on top they like being rich they like making the decisions and they don’t like us not one bit so this is going to be messy and so most of the 19th century these people split on the following question how are we going to make the transition from capitalism to a egalitarian libertarian Brotherhood based system in which everybody’s roughly equal one side said we’re gonna do that the same way capitalism came in the world capitalism came in Marx’s quote dripping blood from every pore whether it’s the civil wars in England in the 17th century though the French Revolution in the 18th or the American rebel violent revolution was how capitalism was brought into this world socialism was gonna have to do that to the revolutionary transformation the other group said take it easy the people in charge we’re not gonna like to hear any of this and they’re strong and we’re not and they have the army and we don’t and they’ll use it we know that so here’s a better plan we’re going to form political parties and campaign for votes we’re going to what we’re going to become parliamentarians we’re going to run for office but whether you’re a revolutionary or by the way what they would call the other ones the evolutionary socialists very important biggest debate was in Germany where these positions were worked out by the great thinkers of that time evolutionary socialism the title of a book by a man named Edward Bernstein who was the great theorist of the this way of going and he incurred the enormous hostility of Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Kautsky and others the great thinkers of that time who were in favor of a revolutionary path but whether you were evolutionary or revolutionary and here comes an important thing both of them thought that the way you make the transition is you capture the state either by revolution no you overwhelm you take over the palace you take over the presidential building you seize the White House or the evolution I want you in the election and you become the government but the idea was you seize in the state and here we go now and then you use the power of the state that you’ve captured either by revolution or evolution to make the transition please be aware in that way of thinking the state is the means to get to socialism capturing the state is not socialism itself that would be a grotesque misunderstanding you capture the state in order to then rearrange the society okay so what happens towards the end of the 19th century into the 20th century that’s what Marxists do country after country they become more and more powerful and they try to seize the state the most powerful in Germany where Edward Bernstein’s evolutionary strategy wins in a sense this de German Socialist Party so jealous – apartheid doctrine SPD says we are going to become the majority party take the state and make the revolution then and they become very very powerful in the last year’s of the 19th century and the years before World War one in Russia a different party has a different method they they do electoral stuff but then in the chaos of World War one when capitalism in Russia is destroyed because it loses World War one Lenin a exile in Switzerland at the time looks at the situation in Russia and says this is a paraphrase says we don’t have to wait we don’t have to do this electoral stuff they are so weak right now we can take it a tiny political party the Bolsheviks tiny a huge country overwhelmingly agrarian Bolsheviks had six peasants in the entire party they were intellectuals they were urban people and so for by and large industrial workers not peasants and Russia was a peasant country but we can do it we can actually do it most other socialists of the time thought Lenin was nuts and told him so but they already thought Lenin was weird because Lenin in the face of World War one had said to the Russian working-class this is a war between imperialists workers have no business being involved in this don’t fight that’s why he had to be an exile because they were an arrest him for telling the Russian people by the way the American socialist leader Eugene Victor Debs did exactly the same thing and they put him in jail because he said to the American workers you shouldn’t be fighting in this is not a war about you you should not be killing the workers of other countries tell are you doing your doing the dirty work of the capitalists they want a war let them fight it you shouldn’t fight it so Lenin was already strange and now you look at even stranger but he pulled it off he did it he captured the state in a revolutionary way and all of the people who had tried to do otherwise didn’t when the dust of World War one cleared worn socialist had captured state power nobody else had and the one who had had used violent revolution to do it amazing and gave the Soviet Union an incredible position in the world of socialists they’re the ones who had done it they’re the ones who had done it and immediately at the end of World War one all socialists around the world split they split on the following basic question if the Russians did it and they did it in that way that’s the way to go and the other socialists said are you crazy that’s peculiar that said special conditions of Russia that was this in here that no no no no don’t draw that in inference they couldn’t come to an agreement so the people who thought that Russia showed the way withdrew from the socialist parties withdrew from the Socialist Movement and to underscore their view they said we’re gonna take a new name we’re gonna call ourselves communists that’s where this comes from that’s where it begins all communist parties start in 1921 1920 the all begin in that split the American party that covers the Oviatt party all of them and it’s a fight about what how to make the transition from capitalism to socialism No how to capture the state what should be your political path evolutionary with politics or revolutionary that was the issue now fast-forward for 10-15 years 1917 to 1930 the Soviet Union this new society the only socialist society on the earth at that time recovers from World War one and to the surprise of everybody starting with Lenin Trotsky Stalin and all the rest to the surprise of all of them they survived remember they had lost World War one then there was a revolution then there was a foreign invasion again I love to remind my American audiences in 1918 four nations invaded the Soviet Union to destroy the new Soviet Revolutionary Government Britain France Japan and the United States ten thousand American troops landed in Russia to overthrow their government no Russian troops ever landed in the United States to overthrow anything but Americans have been worried blue that it might happen and can’t understand why the Russians could even imagine such a thing history unfortunately doesn’t work that way so they were a destroyed society that a civil war on top of it they came back quickly at enormous sacrifice to the Soviet working-class to rebuild that society after World War one and they had done it by the end of the 1920s an enormous sacrifice but the problem was the government and this is the most important thing that we’ll have time for today the government of the Soviet Union had replaced all the private industrial corporations the private industrialists had mostly left Russia became exiles went to places like Paris London New York or they became workers like everybody else but they lost their position the private corporate leaders gone the shareholders gone one of the first things the Russian Revolution did close the stock market there’s no need for a stock market to buy and sell because that stock certificate you have tear it into strips and save on toilet tissue because that’s what it’s worth gone and the government came in and took over the government appointed people to run the factories in the aftermath of the Revolution the workers still went to work Monday to Friday they did the same tasks they did before but instead of doing it for a Board of Directors selected by the big shareholders private capitalism they did it for the government what the government had done is seized the economy but they hadn’t transformed the economy and they never did Stalin declares in nineteen thirty 31 this is socialism Lenin dead by that time would have and probably did turn over in his grave no he would have said what we have Lenin’s phrase is state capitalism the state has become the capitalist and that’s important and that’s good that we did that that’s what the revolution accomplished and that was great but now the task was to transform and yield Stalin you didn’t transform think is declared that here we go now when the state is in charge we got socialism Wow from being the means to the transition seizing the state seeking the state became the transition from the means it became the end the end of the we have socialism because the government has taken over even though the relationships between the government running the industry and the mass of people is not that different from the relationship of the private individuals who used to occupy those positions in relationship to the mass of the working people but for the next what for the next century – here we are we have a mass of people most Americans who think that socialism has something to do with the government being in charge no that’s not the idea the idea was to get the government because with that power you could then make the transition it wouldn’t be the transition it would be the step that will allow you to make the transition and what would the transition be let’s go back to reorganise enterprises factories offices stores so that they would work in the interest of the whole community because the whole community would be making the decisions not a small subset the owners of the shares the boards of directors trainee minorities no no that’s over the question was did the state transform the economy and the answer is no they didn’t not because they’re bad and not because this stupid or nothing like that this is the way the history worked out it’s an understandable thing poor Stalin well he had to go to the Russian people who had sacrificed unspeakable in their lives and what was he going to say to them thank you very much you’ve sacrificed unbelievably now for the last 15 years it’s 1930 since the revolution I’m glad to announce to you all what we have achieved is state capitalism we’ve got a whole nother sacrifice for god knows how many years to get to they would have ridden him out of the town on a rail he couldn’t so he did what politicians do he substituted the wish for the reality we’ve made it we’re here socialism is when de government does stuff and it’s more socialism the more stuff it does and if it does are a real lot of stuff it’s communism everything becomes how much to go so the French think it’s socialist if the government regulates a lot and owns a few things like I don’t know air france or the government makes g ton cigarettes which it does but if you the government takes over everything there’s not social that’s communism the measure becomes how much the government does this is a joke on Marx Marx never wrote an article about the state he wasn’t interested in the state he was interested in the transformation to a new system and one final thing that all we have time for today and we’ll do some more in June one more thing every economic system has had both private and state forms of that system they’ll give an example in slave societies all through the history of the world it wasn’t always that only private individuals had slavery sometimes states owned slaves though you’d have to speak of private slave economic system and state slavery the Roman state owned slaves give another example feudalism many of the lords say a French of French feudalism were private individuals but the French King the state also had serfs so you had private feudalism and state feudalism the reason we both call them feudalism is because they were the same system it’s just a difference between a private individual and a state official capitalism’s like that – you can either be a private capitalist an individual who owns and operates a business as an individual with no relationship to the state then you’re a private capitalist or the government can do that the government can hire workers five raw materials and tools and equipment manufacture something and sell it in the market you know like I don’t know Amtrak TVA 2500 cities in the United States have a public power I don’t know if you’re aware of that 2500 cities in the United States produce their own electricity as a public enterprise and sell it to their own people Holyoke Massachusetts about three hours from here is a perfect example for the last century they have a electric generating plant that produces electricity which is then sold to the people of Holyoke the profit from that are given by the Holyoke electric company to the city of Holyoke which are there for taxes its citizens less since they don’t need to tax them as much since again the profit from producing electricity that’s state capital of the state is the capitalist the state is the investor the state is the employer the state is the receiver of the profit and the state is a determiner of what is done with the profit the state is the capitalist does that mean we have socialism yes if you are a senator from Alabama and I don’t mean to be critical of Alabama but although I do enjoy that I don’t mean to to be the state is one thing socialism as something fundamentally different from capitalism is something else okay we’ve run out of time I promise you we will continue part of the major discussion on in June when we meet the second Wednesday of June will be a particular focus on what it would mean for a transition from capitalism to socialism once you unhook the notion of socialism from this focus on this state and that will help us conclude by showing you how many of the concepts of socialism are locked into this fetishization of the state this focus on this state which Miss understands the history versus how many of the definitions of socialism really have to do with the transformation of an economic system which is what Marx and his contribution was much more focused on I think this is very important because my guess is that Bernie Sanders as a socialist running for president is the first of a much larger rediscovery by the United States of all of all of that taboo you know we can now talk about sexuality in a way that until recently was unthinkable in this culture that suggests to me that something similar is possible and indeed I think coming in terms of these political and economic issues that we have to grow up as a nation to finally outdo the kind of childish of fear and taboo that govern this personal illustration as I have told many of you I went to the best universities this country has and I studied there and I went through their courses and I majored in economics history stuff like that I Yale and Stanford only schools I ever went to okay I was never required to read Karl Marx on anything that’s childish that’s peepee on you it’s beneath any concept of reasonable rational education and this was at a time when more and more of the world was getting intrigued by Marxism and as the world became more Marxist Russia China Vietnam Cuba you name it the the blinders of American higher education became narrower and narrower so that we now have a generation of people most of whom when they raise their hands when I give speeches and ask about socialism what their questions amount to is not this or that detail the basic question they ask me is what is it and at first I was so destroyed by God what is it but then I realized they’re asking me and that’s very good because I’d rather me answering that question than the kind of answer they would have gotten from virtually anybody else so I stopped being upset and I now understand I’ve got to do people and I’m not the only one people like me are doing all over the United States is reviving an awareness of something that shouldn’t have been swept under the rug with taboo in the first place but better late than never thank you all very much I will see you in June you




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