Abby Martin and Richard Wolff: Understanding Marxism and Socialism

Occupy May Day 2012

Image by brent granby via Flickr

Dandelion Salad

with Abby Martin

teleSUR English on Mar 18, 2016

Despite a concerted effort by the U.S. Empire to snuff out the ideology, a 2016 poll found young Americans have a much more favorable view of socialism than capitalism.

Though he died 133 years ago, the analysis put forward by one of the world’s most influential thinkers, Karl Marx, remains extremely relevant today. The Empire’s recent rigged presidential election has been disrupted by the support of an avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders, by millions of voters.

To find out why Marx’s popularity has stood the test of time, Abby Martin interviews renowned Marxist economist Richard Wolff, Professor Emeritus of Economics at UMass – Amherst, and visiting professor at the New School in New York.

Prof. Wolff gives an introduction suited for both beginners and seasoned Marxists, with comprehensive explanations of key tenets of Marxism including dialectical and historical materialism, surplus value, crises of overproduction, capitalism’s internal contradictions, and more.


Updated: April 28, 2016


From the archives:

How To Achieve Socialism (repost)

What Might A Cooperative Economy Look Like? by Pete Dolack

Bernie Sanders’ “Political Revolution” VS A Real Socialist Revolution by Danny Katch

Abby Martin: America’s Unofficial Religion — The War On An Idea

Cornel West and Richard Wolff: Marxism, Capitalism and Wage Slavery

What is Socialism? (archive of posts)

22 thoughts on “Abby Martin and Richard Wolff: Understanding Marxism and Socialism

  1. Pingback: Abby Martin: Capitalism–America’s Unofficial Religion – Dandelion Salad

  2. Pingback: The Difference Between Socialism, Communism, and Marxism Explained by a Marxist – Dandelion Salad

  3. Pingback: What Will A Socialist Society Be Like? by Jessica Hansen-Weaver | Dandelion Salad

  4. Pingback: Marxism in Noir By Alan Wald | Dandelion Salad

  5. Pingback: Michael Lebowitz: What is Socialism in the 21st Century? | Dandelion Salad

  6. Pingback: Chris Hedges and Richard D. Wolff at the Left Forum 2016: Rosa Luxemburg: Reform or Revolution? | Dandelion Salad

  7. Pingback: The Incomplete and Wonderful History of May Day | Dandelion Salad

  8. Pingback: The Brief Origins of May Day | Dandelion Salad

  9. Pingback: Chris Hedges and Michael Hudson: Junk Economics and the Future, Part 2 | Dandelion Salad

  10. Great explanation and practical examples of very some tough concepts. Also, I think I’ve got a bit of a brain crush on Abby Martin.

  11. Pingback: Chris Hedges and Michael Hudson: How We Got to Junk Economics | Dandelion Salad

  12. Sorry Lo, a fat comment.

    I learned my communism from a Spanish civil war veteran. It encapsulates a basic ethos, with which I wholeheartedly concur: no human being has any right to exploit the sweat or good offices of another.

    So, if that is communism…explicit fraternity, wholesome relationship, sharing costs and benefits, solidarity…sign me up ~ only with one reservation, that it also assures us the right of sovereignty, to legitimate identity, privacy, responsible stewardship, self-determination. I don’t want to be told what shade of socks to wear by a committee, or to instruct my cat. The strength of a successful team is its coordinated integrity. Working together, inter-relatedness.

    The great Canadian intellectual Northrop Frye placed Marx in a three-fold sequential tradition that began with Luther, & acquired temporal cultural continuity through Hegelian dialectic. I think that was a helpful suggestion…..big hint ~ Prussia has something to do with it.

    So, although I tend to agree with RW’s economic logic about the abuse of credit, offshoring stupidity and company protocols, I am not convinced that expertise can be sensibly collectivised. We shall always need specialists, those who can be responsible, but most crucially ~ accountable. The point is to keep knowledge open-source.

    How does that affect competitivity? Clearly it changes the context in which competitive edge is just about cut-throat exclusion and cooperation becomes the rational method of choice for greater, mutually shared advantage. Living within our means, “means” supporting the planetary ecology to support us.

    So, I propose to table a somewhat rhetorical but appropriately skeptical question. If our monstrous “system” is so broken, not just “broke” (ha!) is there another reason it keeps on keeping-on?

    I shall attempt to answer my own query. Maybe it is this historicist illusion of continuity perpetuating the myth of indestructible, unavoidable necessity, that protects and ensures an invincible “status quo” of hardcore kindergarten officials, the bedazzled keepers of the eternal peace…”authorized” by divine right to organize routine extermination of the unruly, by goon-squads in pre-ordained, policed enclosures.

    Now ideas generally are all very fine, if we understand their source. Prof. Wolff (initially) somewhat short-changes us, by hastening past the seminal notion of ideas, rushing too recklessly into monotheism. Ancient philosophy was far more subtle and nuanced than he suggests. To begin with, ideas even in a Platonic sense have to be communicated; so we also need a mechanism not just for their transmission, but for their cognitive reception and apprehension.

    Most people call this “education.” We know that the Rockefeller Foundation initiative “fixed” history as a propagandist narrative by implanting a cadre of stool-pigeon academics, who smuggled exclusionary dogma into the mainstream, still in effect.

    However, our earlier precursors valued initiation, and acknowledged the agency of not just “religious ideas” ~ a category that is actually deeply problematic and not necessarily entirely representative of inherited Greek thought ~ but also the means of their acquisition.

    That is to say, the classical process or method by which agency might be solicited, was acknowledged as a process of direct communication with one’s Daemon, or Muse; virtuous humanity’s Sacred Genius (obviously a reflexive circularity is implied here,) was formally acknowledged, celebrated, revered and traditionally heralded throughout the greater (formerly Persian) gnostic oikumene. This esoteric continuum, is what the English mystic Aleister Crowley eventually defined as the “knowledge and conversation” of the Holy Guardian Angel, or tutelary Spiritual Intelligence.

    Since possession in the USA, and among its eagerly seduced (& pathetic) catamite~satellite regimes ~ is nine parts of the law, such esoteric philosophy is dismissed as a luxury that most pragmatic “business-men” ~ even those of the fembot gendered variety ~ all agree they cannot afford, despite their burdensome Ploutonic wealth.

    So if we were to dispel this illusion of heritable permanence, what might happen? I do not think that any other particular “ism” will help to fit the bill or fill the void. We’ve had isms in trumps (& “donalds” and “hilaries”) since time immemorial, and none of them stick for long; they only degrade our political appetite, leaving us dyspeptic and frustrated.

    The simple reason is not “miraculous teflon,” but that all isms, like socialism or evolutionism or moralism or manichaeanism do not exist… Nature. They are the profane inventions of mortals ~ human theories, brands, “memes;” not “divine revelations” that are genuine illuminating technologies of the sacred, capable of being challenged, trialed & buttressed by robust (scientific) methods.

    On another level of narrative discourse, this is very close to the nice distinction between theology and theurgy. The difference between speculation, and testing or empirical doing.

    So if we are to postulate lasting solutions, for duly problematized radical situations, through intelligent change, the single prerequisite issue we must address first and foremost, is this fundamental “problem” of ontology, or metaphysics; the oldest hermeneutic circle in philosophy ~ what exists, what is real, & why we should be concerned enough to be asking about it.

    Without that basic trilemma being insisted upon, the hard-nosed, nuts and bolts merchants, meat ‘n potato pragmatists (ie instrumental “realists,”) and their political ideologues will always continue to hold sway over the “deluded romantics” and recipients of idealism. Dismissing their dreams of social justice as sheer fantasies. Of course the real fantasists are the cynics.

    R Buckminster Fuller famously survived on grapefruit, steak and tea. So perhaps the ethos of diet may have a lot to do with problem solving ~ that is to say, not only inventing stuff, or what is produced, but how and why we produce it. I mean is Paul Stamets a bona fide capitalist? Are Bioneers buffoons? Is Hawken’s “natural capital” fiction? Does Amory Lovins have a covert agenda? Is Ellen Brown totally crazy?

    I’d like to hear Fazal Rahman’s opinion on this interview.

      • Thank you Lo, yes I recall that post well, referring back to it I am reminded just how substantial it was. Fazal replied to the comments in fastidious detail.

        I’ve been participating in an academic online session this past week, about the origins of the alphabet and its esoteric correspondences; I am both impressed and daunted somewhat, by the exponential scale of complexity that can arise in a short time.

        The inclusive, open agency of the internet ~ with its instantaneous
        facilitation of multiple cross-references that enable the live interactive exchange of focused information, internationally ~ can quickly transform a specialized discussion into a virtual seminar of universal scope…quite fascinating and encouraging too.

        • I enjoyed this discussion and felt that Wolff did a great job explaining socialism/Marxism in basic terms.

          And yes, David, the Internet gives us our own library at our fingertips. It’s wonderful. We can learn about virtually anything and connect with others, too.

  13. Pingback: What is Socialism? (archive of posts) | Dandelion Salad

Comments are closed.