With one tweet on 5 October, economics professor Richard D. Wolff destroyed the much-repeated right-wing myth that capitalism and democracy are two sides of the same coin. He said:
In capitalism, tiny minorities (employers) undemocratically dictate what majorities (employees) do.
In democratic businesses, decisions are made by all who work there, one person-one vote.
If we value democracy, it belongs in the workplace. #CureForCapitalism
— Richard D. Wolff (@profwolff) October 5, 2018
The criticisms don’t stop there
Wolff is a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. And in other tweets, his criticisms of capitalism continue. For example, he has argued that:
- “Capitalism’s game plan” is to try and mask the “basic dictatorship of tiny minorities (employers) over vast majorities (employees)” through the use of “democratic” voting rituals” (i.e. occasional elections).
- “Capitalism is a scam“, and both the system and “its intrinsic inequalities” are the “enemies of any real democracy”.
- Austerity “serves the rich at the expense of everyone else”, and the economic recovery after “capitalism’s crash in 2008″ came “at the expense of austerity for the masses”.
- “Exploitation” is at the very heart of the current system, and “capitalism means cyclical instability plus ever more inequality”.
- “Mainstream journalists, politicians, academics” jump at the chance to blame ‘socialism’ for economic crises when they happen under left-of-centre governments, but they blame anything except capitalism when crises occur under right-of-centre governments.
Capitalism is not ‘human nature’. We can do so much better.
As Wolff’s tweet above suggests, however, he’s not just full of criticisms. He also believes there’s an alternative in true workplace democracy, where workers make the decisions that will affect their destinies. And in other tweets, he has compared capitalism to other failed systems in the past that people once saw as ‘the natural order’, while suggesting that we don’t just have to put up with it:
People once thought slavery was “part of human nature” and would last forever. They once thought the same about feudalism and monarchy. Imagine: some people today think that about capitalism.
— Richard D. Wolff (@profwolff) September 24, 2018
Slavery worked best for masters. Feudalism worked best for lords. Capitalism works best for employers.
With a transition to worker-coops, we finally get an economic system that works best for a majority.#CureForCapitalism
— Richard D. Wolff (@profwolff) September 13, 2018
Capitalism needs employers, employees to cooperate yet causes fights over wages, job conditions, etc. Trouble, conflict, strikes, losses result: always did.
We can do better: in worker co-ops, employer/employee are same people.#CureForCapitalism
— Richard D. Wolff (@profwolff) September 23, 2018
In short, the message (as he expressed in another tweet) is that “we can do better than capitalism”. And the alternative is the workplace democracy present in workers’ co-operatives.
The sooner we build the alternative, the better
As Noam Chomsky and several other intellectuals recently pointed out, the inherent failures of neoliberal capitalism are inseparable from the latest global rise of the far right. The currently dominant system, as CorpWatch describes, is about “the rule of the market”; cutting public spending on social services; deregulation; privatisation; and “eliminating the concept of ‘the public good’ or ‘community’”. And as The Canary previously outlined in detail, it’s a system that has been an utter failure; causing suffering and destruction for ordinary people while only making sense for the richest and most powerful.
In short, the sooner ordinary people free ourselves from the poisonous tentacles of this system, the better. It is thoroughly undemocratic, and we don’t need it. But we won’t get a truly democratic alternative unless we step up and fight for it.
– Join or support a co-operative. Also find out more about the ‘solidarity economy‘ – “a grassroots economy built by the people, for the people, and the planet” which “embodies the values of economic and social justice, diversity and pluralism, co-operation, self-management, and ecological sustainability”. And read about how one region is currently building such an economy in the middle of a war zone.
– The Canary actively invites its readers to question everything they read. So please follow the links we reference, and always search for more information if unsure. But if you believe in the importance of independent, grassroots media in the fight against corporate propaganda, please consider supporting us.
Featured image via YouTube screenshot
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?