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How US Politics Sustains US Capitalism

How US Politics Sustains US Capitalism

Richard Wolff

Until their contradictions explode coexisting economic and political systems sustain one another. “Normal” politics includes precisely the process of working out social conflicts such that the economic system is sustained. Whatever its form, the state’s tasks include that sustenance. When politics and the state can no longer perform adequately, the system totters. Only then can movements for system change seriously contest the existing system and press for transition to another.

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Great and succinct description of how the duopoly plays the divide and conquer pendulum game to keep the weight of wealth centered in the upper echelons, whilst satisfying the urges to “do something” by the (purposefully) divided classes.


Hi WiseOWl… you said “whilst,”. Where are you originally from ? : )

Richard Wolff is, to me, one of the very few honest economists. Were I President, I would want him to be Chief Economic Advisor.


The green party has done the hard work to gain ballot access in 45 states. Independent green socialists are now positioned to win.


Half of the people don’t vote. Register by the tens of millions and throw a monkey wrench into the political game where the 11% Rs and 14% Ds keep people confused just as Richard Wolff describes.


Think green. Live green. Vote green. No greens to vote for? No might as well be greens? Write in None of the Above. Write in None of the Above by the many Tens of millions. Monkey wrench political corruption and endless war.


As usual, a great analysis by Wolff.
Some fifty years ago income inequality in America was slowly disappearing. The top 1% only owned 9% of the nations assests in 1970. Wages had tripled in the 25 years since WWII. The average American worker was a union member (a socialist organization) and enjoyed things like paid vacation time, health insurance, pensions, and many other benefits their ancestors only dreamed about. The American middle class had become the envy of working classes throughout the world. But…the oligarchy hated it.
A plan was set forth by those same oligarchs to reverse that trend and to once and for all put the “rabble” back in its place. They went about destroying unions and undercutting the government. But those things would only take them so far. What they needed to do was get the bottom 90% to fight each other fr the scraps that were left, because if they were fighting amongst themselves they could never rise up again. They purchased the media to control the message. They told the shrinking middle class that it was the poor who were responsible for them losing their jobs, their benefits, their way of life.
They bought it. And now, fifty years later, what remains of the middle class is working record numbers of hours in crappy jobs, for no benefits, and borrowing like crazy just to maintain what they once thought was the American Dream. Oh, and they continue to blame the poor.
This whole American experiment is about to go tits up. I don’t see anything stopping it now.


Nowhere special. I use “whilst” and a few other seldom used terms like a secret handshake to the inquisitive like yourself. If I am from anywhere, it is from the great books I have read that “they” have yet to burn or bury… Have a great day!

I do too! I love ‘whilst’.

Hi WiseOwl and thank you for that answer.
I have begun thinking of myself as Earthling rather than American------as citizen of the world seems more fun, fair and ready of the anything future that is coming. :sunny:

Richard Wolfe gets it! The only thing I would add is that both parties also sustain the trillion $ war racket.


Mmmm… perhaps closer to what wiki on Wolff says… " is an American Marxian economist, well known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology, and class analysis.

The syntax of identity as “Marxist” is historically something of a conversational dead weight.

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Nice perspective.

A great question for those who would call themselves Progressive: “How far does your sense of community extend?”

“Marxist” label = historical dead weight.

So true. This is why current Democratic Socialists (and all progressives, always) must remain focused on the Issues (not be distracted by labels and other divisive efforts), and voice their priorities to their constituency, The People.

“How far does your sense of community extend?”

Interesting - particularly in thinking in terms of DNC. The question seems by nature to be loaded. Citizens United would appear to be the sledge hammer sought to eliminate the standing in any legal case that references that one humble word: ‘community’.
I have spoken with three people in the past week who say they have just begun to understand the premises on which food Co-ops are founded and plan to join one.

Marxist critique suffers from the ‘-ism’ with some mistakenly thinking it implies a ‘system’ like ‘capitalism’. So, call it -ism if you want, I prefer the crisp clarity of Marxist critique of capitalism.

On “obsolescence”: Keep in mind that you’re talking about a predatory system that had to engage the machinations of “planned obsolescence” and has been selling the dynamic for decades. It has massaged acceptance of forcing the obsolete for some fifty years. Recognizing the subtleties of a spectrum of causal realities is part of our challenge here.

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For a Marxist academic Wolff yet again confuses a mode of production - capitalism - with a method of management - cooperatives.

He is setting the movement up to fail which will only lead to further despair and disillusionment and set back the idea of socialism

Exactly! Reform of democratic party by democratic socialists diverts energy from political action based on focused distributed intelligence reaching decisions made by cosmic powered biology manifest as human.

Evolution is accelerating at an accelerating rate. Shall we have six or seven branches of government? Will the seventh remain autonomous?

The green party is there. Register as an undeclared nonpartisan citizen and you are almost an unofficial green.

A lot of meat in those links, especially the last one. Thanks!

There are ample more modern Marxist critiques (Andrew Kliman) other than Luxemburg’s observations on schemes such as Wolff’s WSDEs. But many much older are still valid such as this from the Chartist, Ernest Jones.

“I contend that co-operation as now developed, must result in failure to the majority of those concerned, and that it is merely perpetuating the evils which it professes to remove… That the co-operative-system, as at present practised, carries within it the germs of dissolution, would inflict a renewed evil on the masses of the people, and is essentially destructive of the real principles of co-operation. Instead of abrogating profitmongering, it re-creates it. Instead of counteracting competition, it re-establishes it. Instead of preventing centralisation, it renews it—merely transferring the role from one set of actors to another… your co-operative ranks are thinned, your firms find, one by one, they can no longer in make the returns equal the expenses, they cannot sell as cheap as the capitalist, they can therefore no more command the market, their co-operative fires die out in quick succession, stores and mills close over their deluded votaries—and the great ruin will stand bald, naked, and despairing in the streets.”

You understand the limitations of various cooperative models and that they can only have a measure of success in niche corners of the capitalist market yet you appear to agree with Wolff who suggests that they can effectively compete with conventional structured capitalist enterprises. He is a great admirer of Mondragon. (i am not but that is another debate). Wolff himself i think in other writings argues it would require the State to nurture and foster coops if they were able to compete with the corporations but once again he ignores the Marx he has undoubtably has read…the State is the executive committee of the capitalists so to expect it to supply the rope to hang themselves is overly optimistic. If a class war is required to capture that State machine, then why restrict its purpose to coops rather than for establish socialism itself.