This week we learn how much effort has been put to making people assume that the virtues of capitalism are beyond question. We hear three Marxian commentators offering their own angles on the development of capitalism in USA, interspersed with a reprise of Noam Chomsky from episode 29 on the elite's determination to control the public mind lest the democratic state serve the wishes of the majority rather than the privilege of the few.
Thanks to Sasha Lilley of Against The Grain for the interview with Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch.
This week we look at the forbidden questions, such as whose interest does capitalism serve. How did capitalism become the unofficial religion of developed countries? And which systemic pressures worked together to keep certain topics firmly off the political agenda? In our first hour we hear the final part of our series by Richard Wolff. This week he uses Marxist Class Analysis to try to understand the development of capitalism, and addresses the pressing topic of how best we can put an end to it. His conclusion is that most discussion on this subject - especially from 'the left' has missed the point, which, he suggests, is to reorganise production so it no longer produces a surplus to which an elite claim appropriate to help them cement their power.
"The political discourse, the media discourse and the academic discourse have been shaped by the source of the money that makes all of them possible and that's overwhelmingly from the surplus. One of the effects of that ideological effort is precisely to keep the question of the organisation of production off the agenda... to develop a discourse, now a good 200 years old, a discourse that works ceaselessly to establish the idea that capitalism as a system of organising production with private property and markets is the most efficient, technically superb engine of prosperity, efficiency and freedom... to so establish these ideas that anyone who even opened the question [of whether capitalism was in fact any of these things] would appear to be a lunatic."— Richard Wolff
We begin our second hour with a section of a 1998 speech by Noam Chomsky (from episode 29) which is congruent with Richard Wolff's analysis of 20th century political and economic development.
Our second hour concludes with a 2012 interview of Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch, co-authors of 'The Making of Global Capitalism, The Political Economy of American Empire'. As Marxists, their ideas are fairly congruent with those of Richard Wolff, though their emphasis is different. They argue that globalization could never have come about with huge support from nation states, working to support proponents of capitalism and oppressing - by one means or another - those with alternative social visions. Far from experiencing a change of nature, with the formulation of neoliberalism, they see the global economic development as following a pretty straightforward path of intensifying the influence of organised capital. They too note that this responsiveness of the system to finance is leaving an ever larger proportion of individuals marginalized and effectively serfs devoid of any influence. Their prescription is simple - a fundamental change is needed, one that is mindful of the previous false solutions, and does not seek only to ameliorate conditions of those suffering deprivation and inequality, but to address these issues at source.
This episode rebroadcasts content from episode 29.