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This week is something of a continuation of last week's show, featuring the second part of economics professor Richard Wolff on Marxian class analysis, and we approach the end of David Graeber's Debt, The First 5000 Years. It is an aid to help to rethink what you think you know about economics and politics and possibly jettison some categories of thought which are unhelpful.
To prepare us for David Graeber, we start the show with the soundtrack of a short video of Charles Eisenstein speaking about the nature of greed. Is in innate, or is it a function of a money system which produces artifical scarcity?
Next Richard Wolff develops the Marxian class analysis he introduced last week, and uses it to give an overview of the last few decades of American economics and politics. He notes that a combination of factors meant that labor was in great excess in US in 1970s, giving capitalists the chance to hold down wages while pocketing the increased surplus value. In the face of increasing social disengagement of the 80s and 90s, big business increased their control of the levers of power and managed to hold down wages, effectively changing the terms of the social contract as described recently by David Graeber. The working maintained their consumption levels class first by reduce their savings rate and then by borrowing ever increasing amounts. Meanwhile the increased disposable wealth of the capitalists birthed the 'Financial Services Industry' which used a variety of innovative 'financial products' to lend this money back to the working class, to substitute for their shortfall of wages. This is a 'bigger picture' talk which does not dwell on the economics but uses them as a backdrop to help explain changes in US politics and society since the 1970s.
We conclude with a continued reading from David Graeber, who continues from last week to give his 'bigger picture' summary of the book's main message. Do we want to contribute an esclating proportion of the surplus to maintain the apparatus of hopelessness? This week Graeber reminds us of the bloody and violent origins of markets, something which economists seem determined to try and avoid.