The Reality Principle -Episode 10

“Capitalism in Crisis” with Richard Wolff

RPLogoThis week, Eric sits down for an extended conversation with Richard Wolff, one of America's leading economists and critics of the economic system. Prof. Wolff explains why his critique is of capitalism itself and not merely its contemporary manifestation. He and Eric examine the current "debate" regarding the so-called "fiscal cliff" and how this is merely austerity by another name. Prof. Wolff provides his interpretation of the various strategies used by either side in propping up this economy while also explaining how there could be a third way, one that is focused on solutions not beholden to the current economic order. He and Eric also analyze the nature of class and how class analysis is not only relevant but necessary in the United States of the 21st Century.

Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and is currently Visiting Professor at the Graduate Program in International Affairs at The New School in New York. His work appears regularly in The Guardian and Visit his website as well as the website for his new project

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  1. I listen to Wolff on WBAI frequently. His critiques of capitalism are excellent. He knows his facts and his history and can make complex issues understandable. Thanks for posting this interview.

  2. Thanks for posting the interview, Eric. Don’t understand why you equivocate when it comes to the question of democratic socialism. Stepping on libertarian toes? Forgive me if I chuckle, but if it were up to Austrian school troglodytes our kids would be working at age five and without a minimum wage to boot! Keep up the great work at BFP and Stop Imperialism!

  3. Enjoyed the interview. I agree w/ Antifascist…it’s good that you invite people of other perspectives to listen in, but the critiques are solid and don’t need qualification.

  4. Thanks for the comments guys – it’s very much appreciated. It’s not equivocating or being disingenuous. However, I think it’s important to engage with people on the other side. BFP has given me an opportunity to speak to people who might otherwise not be interested in listening to perspectives that differ significantly from theirs. I want to be fair and welcoming to those people, creating a space for honest discourse which hopefully might inspire some people to evaluate (or re-evaluate as it were) their own views. I don’t think I’m losing anything by taking this approach. I’d rather be an interviewer and a commentator than a polemicist and pamphleteer. I’ll leave that to others. Besides, I have the opportunity to learn from others as well; I would expect the same from them.

  5. Thanks, Eric. This was yet another excellent show.

    I agree that prioritizing a conversation between people of various perspectives/philosophies is important. I have found that conversation, particularly with religious libertarians, to be difficult to maintain in the past.

    I remember the comments one of my former neighbors, during an attempted conversation over a few beers a few years ago. The crux of his argument was simply that he had convictions. That was it. The relationship to power of belief. No moral equivilence, he said.

    I compliment that picture with my observation that those who are anti-austerity, for public responsibility for infrastructure, against private prisons, (etc.) are generally more interested in an open-minded conversation, with real interest in learning. I know this might just be my own bias.

    This is just an observation, but I have a feeling that authoritarianism has corrupted the liberty religion, just as much as any other. Always a reference to a book or quoted definition about the evils of collectivism before an original thought/response.

    I think this is why the conversations are always short and unfortunately desired more by some than others.

    That said, James Corbett and other BFP contributors are definitely a caveat to this observation, as they have original thoughts and conversations. And one of the reasons why this place is so important.

    Thanks again.

  6. BTW, excellent musical interludes – I’m glad you give them enough time to sink in a little.

  7. Thanks so much for the comments Xicha, I couldn’t agree more. I don’t make any secret about my political bias – I have no interest in the illusion of objectivity. I also have ahard time with the bible-thumping libertarian sorts, just as i have a hard time with the mainstream “liberals” in the US. For both camps, political positions and ideology are rooted in “faith’ (be it in Jesus or Obama) rather than a reasoned conclusion based on introspection and investigation. As I said though, I try to speak to all people and, hopefully, inspire some genuine thought and self-reflection. I personally love Richard Wolff and think his analysis is spot-on, however I wanted to make clear that, libertarian or Marxist or anywhere in between, there’s much to be gained from his analysis and perspective. Just as I think there is from all my guests – if I didn’t I wouldn’t bother interviewing them.

    I agree whole-heartedly regarding BFP. What Sibel has done (and hopefully I help to contribute to) is create a space where these varying ideologies can come together and find that common ground, engage in real discourse, and band together against the all-powerful leviathan. That’s why I’m proud to be with James and Peter and Sibel and Andrew et al.

  8. Well Eric, you are an “economist”, you get paid by the word… nes pah?

    You are very wordy, but the real thing isn’t that complicated is it?

    economists are obscuritanists… nes pah? I don’t speak much Franse… but well… I can smell some…

    I am saying that, what I derived from your above, is that you are in the same old fold of those that make a lot of noise, and don’t say much, and espcecially don’t say things that are intelligable to the commons.

    So make it so the dumb asses can get it… then you’re doing something… otherwise, it don’t matter.. like I said the other day: there will be a Pied Piper, who will come and take the lead.

    There will some day be one… who has the tone… it will be a he… and that he will be able to bring the next age… Women are longing for a real man/leader… men are waiting in the wings too… for the next leader.

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