Richard Wolff: Difference between socialism & communism and what they both missed



but with the Russian Revolution a great change happened the Russians through a revolution in 1917 took over closed the stock market made industries the property of the government to be run on behalf of all the people and instituted a planning system to distribute things and subordinated the market they never got rid of the markets but the markets were less important than the government planning apparatus and in a way this was a key moment a kind of epiphany for socialists for the first time they had power in a country they had the power of the government in a country called Russia and the whole socialist movement then was forced into a kind of a choice is socialism what is going on in Russia after 1917 every socialist had to ask and basically the socialist movement split one part of it said yes the future of socialism is in Russia because that's where the socialist one they must have been doing something right they won they took power that's the future but there were other socialists who weren't happy with what was happening in Russia who didn't like Lenin and the leaders of the Russian Revolution who was skeptical who didn't want to do that takeover of industries the way the Russians were doing it who didn't want to suppress markets in favor of planning the way the Russians did it so this split happened it was really over the Russian Revolution and what it meant and those who supported the Russian Revolution said we want to take a different name so they were socialists but they wanted to call what they did something else so they took the name communists that's where it happened it all happened in the night early 1920s those who were skeptical when in a different direction held on to the name socialists later on they changed it and called what they were Social Democrats they called what they were pushing for social democracy and here's what it meant you see it in countries like scan the name you see it in countries today for example in the Netherlands or you see it in Portugal it's when Socialists take over in a society usually by elections and what they do is they regulate the economy they let private capitalists still own and run the businesses they let private capitalists hire workers they let the market basically distribute things but with a heavy dose of government regulation to make it all work out less unequally to make it work out less unfairly social democracy meanwhile the other kind of socialism which took the name communism went further the government didn't allow private capitalists to continue it pushed them out the government took over the ownership and operation of businesses and had planted distributions and didn't leave very much to the market okay that's what socialism was in the twentieth century but here was the problem if you give socialist government's the kind of power that you gave in Russia and China and if you give them the kind of power in Scandinavia and elsewhere to regulate you create tensions in the communist world the tension was the government had so much power the danger was it would use it for political ends that were not socialist and that indeed often happened in Scandinavian type social democracies the government's attempt to regulate was undone by the pushback of the private capitalists who didn't want their profits limited and so over time there was a reaction in the communist countries against the political problems of a powerful state and there was the undoing of social democracy by the resistance of capitalists so that by the end of the 20th century social democracies were in retreat the Soviet Union had collapsed and China had changed everyone saw all of this including the Socialists and so they asked themselves that following key questions what went wrong what is it that made the communist countries collapse what is it that made social democracies begin to go into retreat what was missing from the old socialism that a new socialism has to learn from and fix and here it is the problem that Socialists discovered was that the changes made at the level of who owns the means of production and at the level of market versus planning in distribution left unchanged something that should never have been left unchanged what was it it was the organization of the enterprise the place where most people spend their working lives in the office in the store in the factory in those places the Socialists had not transformed what had been left to them by capitalism you still had an employer a very small number of people and the employees a very large one the employer still told the employees what to do that's not socialism that's not what Marx the great theorist of socialism had to say it didn't revolutionize the basis of society every workplace and what would that mean and the answer that socialists are emerging with now and why socialism is changing is that the problem was and is that if you want the socialism that has always been the idea of an equalized society in egalitarian society a society of liberty equality fraternity and democracy the great goals alike of capitalism and socialism you have to begin by democratizing the base of society and that's the workplace




Comments
  1. What have all socialist government in common? Disaster, mass murder and famine……. It´s just an intolerant and unnatural ideology which forgets what the human being is, it´s where it goes wrong…… Simple

  2. there's so many layers of the system in terms of people, the ones who are doing well and the ones who think they are doing well will always defend the current system, even if they know it's at the detriment of many others.

    I'm quite anti capitalist in ways, but in other ways quite pro capitalism, i just think it needs more government regulation.

    also, let's have Plato's Philosopher King as president or prime minister and it may become more egalitarian, moral, ethical, just generally more humanitarian instead of primal drives, tribalism and economics over ethics.

    I think we need to become a multi-planetary species and this could potentially solve a lot of issues.

  3. If Lenin and the rest of the socialist revolutionaries called themselves communists and that's where "it hapenned" then what is up with Marx/Engles book the communist manifesto? I am legitimately confused, what did the term mean to Marx?

  4. This is an incredibly important, helpful, and accurate introduction to a very long and complicated history, and I applaud Dr. Wolff for telling it so concisely!

    I urge everyone to spread this video to all the misinformed people in the US who don’t know anything about the history or socialism and would just as quickly fear that mildly social-democratic politicians like AOC and Bernie Sanders are going to “turn the US into Venezuela” and/or do not understand the difference between the attempts at “socialism” being carried out Venezuela, or in the Scandinavian model, and the attempts at “socialism” historically carried out in the USSR.

    However, while I fully agree that the bureaucracy of the Soviet model was a failure as are the attempts of “social democratic” parties to simply regulate market capitalism, I think we must take seriously the written theory of socialist revolutionaries in the 20th century. I would seriously recommend Rosa Luxembourg’s “Reform or Revolution”, and V.I. Lenin’s “State and Revolution”, and the writings of Ana Louise Strong and Angela Davis as well have been a great inspiration to me. Furthermore I am still actively seeking literature from the many other Marxists outside of Europe who have contributed much but all too often go completely unrecognized by Marxists in the West.

    Even as their model for socialism was rife with internal contradictions and besieged by outside threats, the most difficult struggle of socialists has always been to actually take power, or simply to defend it from the capitalist class if you believe we can achieve socialism without seizing control over the state, and it is here I believe that all of us, including Dr. Richard Wolff and the wonderful contributions “Democracy at Work” have made to the development of this new hopeful socialist movement in the US today, still have a lot more to learn.

    I am incredibly skeptical based on what I know of the history of socialism in the US, that the US economy of private capitalist ownership can be massively transformed into a system based on cooperation and worker-ownership without facing both repression and co-optation by the capitalist class and the capitalist state in order to preserve the status quo. I don’t think anyone has the answers as to how we prepare to respond and defend our vision but I am confident it will take tens of millions of leading activists who are capable of thinking for themselves and utilizing lessons from the robust history of socialism and Marxism to aid in our project.

  5. Seems to me that the current 'conservative' groups could better be referred to as 'reactionary' political parties. What do you think Professor Wolff?

  6. LOL This guys ideas are bullshit. He's trying to brand countries like Sweden as an offspring spawn of Marxist. Sweden was a welfare state and now its economic focus is pretty much neoliberal orientated. Just because it has increased taxes to fund stuff like free education and health care doesn't mean it's a socialist country. Also, the system Wolf is trying to argue wouldn't work in an economy bigger than a country like Sweden, not to mention Sweden's economy, though healthy, is not rapidly growing.

    Marxism is a product of its time and has no place in the modern world.

  7. why is there debates about a non-issue? market-based economies are the ONLY solution. whether its state controlled market economies like china or viet nam or social democracies or pure libertarianism. they have to have market economies. that wolff chose to educate himself on a failed system from 1840's is his problem. democratization of the workplace? c'mon richard…the game is over. go golfing in boca..your entire educational pursuit has been meaningless—you should have studied astrology.

  8. Within China, with its partial state owned companies, people see the NATION, which defines the common interest, as their employer. They realize that low wages are in the interest of the community and accept harsh conditions of work and live. The Chinese worker has no need for a democratic workplace, has trust in the rationality of the economic reality. This is why the Chinese system must be defined as NATIONAL COMMUNIST……… Within socialist nations in the West wealth has spread and the workers accept their social acceptable wages. They also do not want a democratic workplace………

  9. Except they were never communist. Soviet Union wasn’t even socialist and just a red bureaucracy that acted as the state capitalist.
    The state owning the MOP isn’t socialism. They whipped the people in the direction they wanted to.

    You forgot about anarchists. We don’t agree with vanguardism or a state.

  10. Don’t listen to this socialism snake oil sales peddler. He has nothing interesting or useful or real.

  11. The bottom line is that under our current systems of law and taxation the corporate form of ownership has come to dominate almost all sectors of the economy. Disinterested shareholders have even stopped caring whether they received dividends. The stock market is nothing more than a giant gambling casino. Getting our elected legislators to even consider amending the law affecting corporate interests is not likely to happen given the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that corporations are persons. The best we could hope for is to push for tax reform that favors cooperatives, partnerships and sole proprietorships.

    One way to move in this direction is to push for the exemption of business revenue from taxation up to some limit (e.g., the median revenue. Say this came to $5 million. All revenue up to $5 million for any company would be exempt from inclusion in taxable income. All deductions for business expenses would be eliminated. Revenue above $5 million would be subject to an increasing rate of taxation on higher ranges of income.

  12. Prof. Wolff, can you please talk about the social welfare state and its shortcomings or advantages

  13. Has any country implemented a working system whereby private ownership has been replaced by some or complete worker-ownership in a smooth transition (i.e. no bloodshed/rebellion etc.) Did that happen in England with the National Coal Board (E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful)?

  14. Mao developed socialism at chinese factory during the Culture revolution, by democratizing workplace by "两参一改三结合", "四大自由"

  15. The Danish Social Democrats, formed in 1871 after the 1st International, already were named so in 1878, and got voted into the Danish parliament in 1884. Your history lesson is dumbing people down -_-

  16. New thumb nails, have him write down all his theories/stories. (Him being Richard Wolff). This channel seems like a liberal Radio Head talk show with visuals. This structure is similar to a Fox News/Rush Limbaugh/Alex Jones kind of production style. All u need is the logos, podcast mic, & a sponsor. But I believe in the conversation of all views, just need it to be more accessible & deeper content in the form of events with talks & lectures or history animations which runs with current news & other. it's a lot of work but it might be the right way to go at this point…I'm so tired of hearing Richards Wolffs voice drowning away with opinion points – with slippery language that seems abigious and presupposes the audience knows a certain amount of things

  17. Many believe socialism is the government control of production. Wrong. It's the public control of production. The reason socialist reforms come about in capitalist economies through the government, is because it is the only means of meaningful reform. For socialism to exist, both the government and wider economy have to be controlled by the grass roots, via the de-centralisation of private and governmental power.

  18. Fun fact:China, during the later period of culture revolution, had a semi-democratic worker-leader relationship established in some region. It is called Angang Constitution, which party officials and workers making decisions together, and it becomes a movement, had it's peak around 1972. Unfortunately, the leadership of Culture revolution was entirely burdened on Mao himself, and he is nearly 80, unable to make any revolutionary decisions. After his death, his opponents execute a coup d'état, took out his followers, and killed the culture revolution, as part of the movement, Angang Constitution did not reach its maturity.

  19. There is an emerging problem looming that will render this question and answer moot, A.I.s and robotics is and will continue to completely displace the current work force leaving humans with no job.

  20. NO MORE ISMS! We have already run out of ideas and we are drop dead. This perhaps is the real end of history. It is the time for AI to take over completely.

  21. Thanks Richard extremely interesting vid I am and have always been a socialist not communist which is as bad as capalitism

  22. Marx lays out the lower stages of socialism in multiple texts and it isnt what this utopian liberal pretends it is. He represents a failed school of utopian socialists that was mocked and viewed as useless even by Marx and engels

  23. Q: "What caused social democracies to going into retreat"
    A: the collapse of the USSR which represented the strongest alternative for workers and a path towards revolution.

  24. This is literally untrue. In the time of Marx it was the higher and lower stages of communism/socialism with both words meaning largely the same thing. Post Russian revolution, the term socialism became the word that meant "lower stage" and communism meant "higher stage".

    Also, the social Democrats are not socialists, they are capitalists. This is bafflingly wrong.

  25. I wish people give up their prejudice about socialist countries and consider them friends instead of enemies, which will be more conducive for world peace, like President Trumps peace initiative with N. Korea, last year dissolving 70 years old hatred without further bloodshed. Now borders between North and South Korea are opened and they have started visiting each other and hopefully there will reunification, like east and west Germany some years down the line benefitting both countries.

    Wise leaders of of China have adopted/altered their economic and social policies best suited for welfare of their population from the efficient utilisation of the available resources helped more by shedding their earlier prejudice about capitalism and west.

    In 30 years since shedding the cobwebs of '' isms '' China has surpassed economic growth of many countries and has become one of the most advanced nation with more engineers, doctors, scientists doing astronomical research and advances in science and technology, because China invested its vast resources for development of human capital instead of war machines. It is now helping other poor countries of Asia and Africa for infrastructure and humane development with the surplus resources at its command ! These efforts should be appreciated instead of seen with suspicion. If recipients don't like their help, they can always terminate agreements entered peacefully as provided by exit clauses, as some countries have already done so, due to change of their economic plans or priorities.

    The honourable solution would be to withdraw the unjustified sanctions, which are the root cause of misery in Venezuela and and elsewhere. Sanctions, like used condoms should be flushed away after expatiation, by kiss and makeup peace efforts, rather rubbing salt in the wounds of a violated body. For as you rightly said we can't bestow ( i say thrust down the throats) democracy by sadist interventions.

    And if Russia does not learn from Afghan debacle, its their loss ! Americans should not fear their assistance to socialist governments worldwide, rather welcome it and give their undivided attention to make America great again rather Venezuela. Let other socialist governments look after their own. And if recipient countries find their help obnoxious/nefarious/exploitative they will get booted out, as in Afghanistan/Balkans, for no nation can be subjugated against its will. Tyranny fails of its own inconsistencies.
    For all American nations were once colonies of European nations (including USA), and when locals/immigrants from same race as colonialists found their rule tyrannical, they were overthrown.

    My late learned father gave me a valuable piece of wisdom, ''help a friend in need, if you have sufficient resources after meeting needs of your family, because family comes first, but never borrow to help anybody, because you will be pledging a part of your income over which your family has first priority ! ''
    Is Venezuela a friend of America ? No.
    Does America have sufficient resources after meeting needs of its citizens ? No.
    Does it need to borrow to help anybody ? Yes.
    Decide yourself !

    Is it a crime to choose a socialistic pattern of development ? Does American model of capitalistic development of economy ensure fair/just/equitable distribution of resources to the needy ? Are American people satisfied by subsistence wages/welfare cheques ? Can they afford decent houses/spouses ? Higher education ? Healthcare ? MV insurance and service overheads ? Why do so many working Americans live in cars/vans/campers barely surviving day to day while rich folks spend millions of dollars for relaxation on the golf courses ?

    Does American industry discharge its obligations to the nation in return of good infrastructure, law & order frameworks, lower taxation, easy banking finance and 'laissez faire' policies of government ? No way sir, in the everlasting greed to maximise profits and cannibalistic growth ambitions they employ robots, spend billions on automation to cut down wage bills, and move jobs that can't avoid human labour oversees to the low wage countries abroad, while salting away astronomical profits in tax heavens abroad, all the times.

    Mahatma Gandhi said that industry should hold in trust the supernormal profits on behalf of nation, for the welfare of society ! Sadly, we see billions of dollars in Annual bonuses to the industry executives/promoters, bountiful stock options, buybacks to share holders, luxurious private jets and vacations for top brass, eating away the capital reserves.

    American Government spends trillions of dollars to maintain '' white elephants '' large ACC, nuclear submarines, stealth aircrafts, missile systems on defence, while a pack of ''dobermans'' would have been sufficient, squandering scarce borrowed resources raised through fed/taxes/import credits.

    In my view Venezuela, Iran , Syria and Turkey should file class action suits in US courts as well as with ICJ at Hague on behalf of their citizens in a trillion dollar law suit for imposing unjustified sanctions against them causing wipeouts of their savings through hyperinflation and shortages of food and medicines, otherwise this madness won't stop. Politicians should be held accountable for effects of their mindless fiats sometime very soon.

    Extremely unwise policies from a nation that claims to be a role model for the free world !!

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