Economic Update: Working Class History and the 2020 Election

Welcome, friends, to another edition of Economic
Update, a weekly program devoted to the economic dimensions of our lives. I’m your host, Richard Wolff, and today’s
program takes into account the fact that Americans are beginning to look into the election — the
big one for president coming up next year, 2020. Because this election is becoming an issue
and will of course become more of an issue as the months roll on, I thought it would
be a good time to stop and take a look at the broader historical picture of American
politics right up to the present. So I call today’s program “American History
and the 2020 Election.” If you’re interested in this argument that
I’m going to be presenting during this program, I should also mention to you that an article-form
version was published in the digital magazine, Counterpunch, which you can find online at, dated June 3, 2019. Of course, when I’m talking about the American
working class, I don’t mean to suggest that everybody who’s in that working class, roughly
150 million Americans, our fellow citizens, agree on everything or act in the same way. There are important divisions of the working
class: men and women, whites and blacks, skilled and unskilled, more educated and less educated
workers. The regional character of the working class
in the South is different from that in the West, and so on. But there were things over the last 75 to
100 years that brought all working people together. And by “working people” I mean what the
government calls “non-supervisory employees,” the workers who do the work that makes this
country function, producing and distributing goods and services. There are roughly 150 million non-supervisory
workers employed in the US today, and they are important not only because they make everything
go around and produce the goods and services without which we couldn’t live but also
because they play a vital role within our current economic system, capitalism. Capitalism is an economic system in which
a relatively small minority of people — owners, CEOs, the people at the top of corporations,
boards of directors, and so on — have the majority of power, wealth, and income in society,
and such a system could not continue to function unless the mass of people, the vast majority,
the non-supervisory working class allowed it. Thus, for capitalism to survive, it has always
been necessary for those at the top to find allies in the working class, and the history
of this relationship is what we’re going to be sketching in what follows. Our story starts back in the 1930s at the
height of the the Great Depression. It starts there because capitalism crashed
big time in 1929. Suddenly, in this country, an economy that
had been booming along basically since the Civil War crumbled. During this period, America had grown richer
faster than even its old parent Britain could do, had grown richer as fast or faster than
the only other quickly growing national economy at the time, Germany’s, could do. America was a success story of exploding net
wealth — we killed off enough of the Native Americans in this country to allow an immense
expansion of the immigrants from Europe across this country. Such wealth created the great names of that
time: the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, and all of those people who got called by the
name that most others understood applied all too well: “robber barons.” Such people became extremely wealthy, and
they celebrated the system that made them so. They also convinced everyone else pretty well
that the wealth and the growth in this country were somehow their doing — not the work
of the mass of people but the result of the genius of the “captains of industry,”
the robber barons themselves. They did a pretty good job of convincing people
of this until, that is, the crash of 1929, when suddenly this great capitalist system
with all of these rich Rockefellers and so on at the helm fell apart. Between 1929 and 1933 there was a continuing
collapse, and by 1933 the unemployment rate in the United States had reached 25%. That means that one out of four people were
without a job. Every family had either a mama or a papa or
a cousin or an uncle without work and, therefore, all were affected. Whatever savings people had accumulated were
quickly used up, because there was no support for unemployed people. There was no unemployment compensation system
then, and thus people had nowhere to turn. The desperation of the times was captured
in novels like Of Mice and Men, Grapes of Wrath, or the other great works by Steinbeck,
Dreiser, and the other novelists of the time, which you might remember reading as a high
school or college student. In that collapse, the mass of the American
working class finally saw through the pretenses of capitalism. They saw that capitalism could deliver not
the goods but the really bads, and the American working class drew a conclusion. The conclusion was that the political party
that represented capitalism the most, the party supporting both capitalism and the wealth
of the rich capitalists, that is, the Republicans, were the people who were not working men and
women’s friends. Working people turned and placed their hopes
in new directions. Some of them decided to go with the Democratic
Party: at least it wasn’t the Republicans, and at least the Democrats showed some sympathy
for workers’ situation. Many workers decided to do something much
more dramatic. They joined labor unions in a way that Americans
had never done before. Indeed, the greatest wave of labor organization
in the history of the United States took place in the depths of the Depression of the 1930s. Millions of Americans who had never been in
a union before, whose parents had never had to do with unions before, decided that the
best way to get through the hard times of the terrible Depression was to unify with
other workers and work together to make something happen. Those who were even more upset by what was
happening to them and by the economic system they thought they could rely on joined either
the two main Socialist parties of the period or the Communist Party. These parties became very important in American
history at that time, and indeed a powerful coalition formed from them, an alliance between
the Communist Party, the Socialist parties, and the labor organizers under the heading
of the CIO, the Congress of Industrial Organizations. Members of this coalition went to the then
newly elected president of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat brought in
out of frustration with the Republicans, the latter of whom had been boasting most loudly
of the great achievements of capitalism. The members of this labor coalition went to
that new president, and they said, “We put you in office. You’re here to help us through this terrible
Depression. If you do, we will celebrate you, and if you
don’t, we will vote you out.” The Communists, the Socialists, and the other
organizers of unions together represented tens of millions of people. The president, Mr. Roosevelt, got the message. He went back to the rich people he came from,
the big leaders of business like himself, and he said, “I just had a meeting with
the Communists, Socialists, and the unionists, and they basically read me the riot act. I had better help those people, the mass of
Americans, through this Depression, or I’m out of here. And gentlemen,” he said looking at them
— there were very few ladies present in that room — “I advise you to go with me
in this effort because if you don’t, these people are very angry. They’re already talking — particularly
those Socialists and Communists — about a revolution here, you know, like the one
they had in Russia just a few years ago, back in 1917” (which wasn’t that long ago when
you’re talking in the early 1930s). So he finished this conversation, Mr. Roosevelt
did, and he said to the rich people with him, “The government has no money. With millions of people unemployed and businesses
falling apart, nobody’s taxes are being paid. The only way to help these people is to get
money, and the only people who have money are you, you corporate leaders, you wealthy
millionaires. So you’ve got to give me the money so I
can take care of the mass of people, and I urge you to do it because if you don’t,
there’s a good chance those people will remove whatever money you have, and you won’t
be in a position to give anybody anything anymore.” Half of those business tycoons gathered bought
Mr. Roosevelt’s argument, and they agreed to his proposition. Mr. Roosevelt then went and did something
unprecedented in the US, and what he did was to take money from the rich, taxing them very
highly and borrowing what he didn’t tax from them, basically telling them that they
had no other choice. He used this money first to create the Social
Security system, which suddenly offered a safety net for all American families. It was as if Mr. Roosevelt had said, “You’re
elderly, you’re 65 years of age and older, so I’m gonna give you a check, a government
Social Security check every month for the rest of your lives.” Second, Mr. Roosevelt created an unemployment
compensation system for the first time. If you lost your job through no fault of your
own, the government would give you a check every week for a year or two to help you through
until you found new employment. Third, he instituted a minimum wage. We never had that before in America, just
like we never had a Social Security system before or unemployment compensation. Suddenly, if you had a job, you couldn’t
be paid below a certain amount because it was indignant for you and indignant for society
to treat people this way — what an idea! Finally, with his massive government hiring
program, it was as if Roosevelt told the American people, “If the private capitalists of this
country can’t or won’t hire millions of Americans who only ask for a job, then I will,
as president.” And he did this. He hired roughly 15 million people between
1934 and 1941. The American working class could not believe
what they had accomplished through the alliance of the Communists, the Socialists, and the
unions. They had pressured a president to tax the
rich and the corporations in order to provide a vast program of help and support to working
men and women, the working class. And the working class made a commitment: this
is our guy, Mr. Roosevelt. And so they turned to his party, the Democratic
Party, and said, “This is the party of the working class, and we’re gonna support you.” How powerful was this support of the working
class? Well, let’s see: Mr. Roosevelt was president
four times. He was reelected three times, that is, by
overwhelming support of the American working class. The working class became the Democratic Party,
and the Democratic Party became it. It’s an extraordinary story, and it’s
when the politics of this country were shaped in a profound way. The role of the Democratic Party and of Roosevelt
was simple. Capitalism as a system, if left in the hands
of private enterprises, capitalists, and big corporations, can and will blow itself up
and produce catastrophes like the Great Depression. The only way to manage that, to prevent such
catastrophes from happening over and over again, is to bring the government in through
a massive intervention of an ongoing sort, like Social Security, unemployment compensation,
minimum wage legislation, and federal jobs, when the private sector can’t provide a
living wage to everybody who needs and wants one. What a commitment! And who’s to pay for it? Big business and the rich. That set the tone for what the Democratic
Party did, but it also set the tone for what the business community would do next. Confronted by a massive defeat, they had to
pay. They had to pay taxes like they had never
paid before to fund a program of helping the mass of people. They had been made out to be the problems
of our society, the “robber barons,” who cared only for profits and not for the well-being
of the American people. Capitalism had given itself a black eye, and
the Democratic Party pointed at it and said, “Never again!” The business community was horrified. Would they have to pay high taxes forever
in this system? Would they not be on top of it? Would they be held responsible forever? “No!” they said, and the rest of this
story relates how American politics were changed after Mr. Roosevelt was gone. We’ve come to the end of the first half
of this program, so having teased you a bit, before I take you to the next step, bringing
the story up to our current president, I want to remind you: please follow us on YouTube. On YouTube, simply search for “Democracy
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due to our Patreon community, whose support and encouragement is crucial to every program
we produce. Stay with us, and we will be right back! Welcome back, friends, to the second half
of today’s Economic Update. We had taken our story of the American working
class’s history through the Great Depression and even to the end of World War 2. That was the crucial time because the Depression
was now over. The working class had embraced the Democratic
Party of Franklin Roosevelt, and vice versa. The war had put Americans back to work — half
of the unemployed took on a uniform, and the other half went to work producing the uniforms,
guns, ships, and all the rest. So 1945 marks the crucial end of the Depression,
the return of people to jobs, and the death of Mr. Roosevelt, and that was the opportunity
for action, that is, for the Republican Party to lead the way in pushing back against all
that had been accomplished in the 1930s, undoing what had been done: that thing called the
New Deal. Now the agenda was to undo the New Deal, and
the way the Republican Party and the business community, working very closely together,
did that was to destroy the New Deal coalition, that combination of Communists and Socialists,
on the one hand, and unions, on the other. The working class’s leadership congealed
in those groups: Communists, Socialists, and labor unions had to be destroyed so that the
Republicans could then find allies within the working class to pull over to their side. That way the Republican Party wouldn’t face
a largely united working class, as it had in the devastatingly successful run of the
Democrats under four presidencies of Mr. Roosevelt. So here’s how Republicans did this. First, they went after the Communists by claiming
that they were not leaders of the working class but rather evil agents of a foreign
power. That way they justified getting rid of them,
and the minute they finished that, they did the same to the Socialists and said that they
were the same as the Communists — they just spelled things in a different way. They taught Americans to be very frightened
of all of that, very hostile, and Russia became the great enemy. This was step one: break the working class
coalition. Step two: hobble the labor movement. This especially took place with the passing
of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1946, a law that stipulated that anything that a trade union
won at a workplace had to be given to everybody who worked there, whether or not they were
members of the union, whether or not they had gone out on strike when the union called
them to do that, and whether or not they paid dues to the union. This gave everybody an incentive to be a free
rider, that is, to get the benefits of labor struggles without being part of the union
movement. That marked the beginning of the downhill
run of the labor movement, which was eviscerated in this way. Third, businesses decided they could make
more money by going out of the country. They began that hemorrhaging of jobs out of
the country to cheap labor somewhere else, which the unions couldn’t fight because
they were fighting desperately to survive the onslaught of the government’s attack
on them. All of this worked. The long and the short of it is that this
worked. The New Deal coalition was broken up. Part of this effort also involved forcing
women back into the house, women, that is, who had been pulled into the labor force during
World War 2 when the men went off to fight. Women like Rosie the Riveter had become workers
everywhere in America. Now, after the war, the Republicans led the
charge: women must go back in the household. A woman, they claimed, wasn’t a hero if
she was doing the work that the men used to do and doing her part for the war effort. No, no, she became a person who ought to be
at home, who ought to be taking care of children. The whole Women’s Liberation movement was
born out of the attempt to push women back to a subordinate household role that was not
valued, and yet they were told that they had to do this. Simultaneously, black people, who had begun
to emerge from the Jim Crow segregation of the past into the modern American working
class alongside white people, were pushed back and made subordinate in various ways. White workers were told that they really were
different from black workers — the opposite of what the message of the 1930s had been
in many cases. The idea now among Republicans and their allies
was to build up the divisions within the working class to break them apart, to stop them from
being unified around the idea that capitalism was their problem and that the Democratic
Party would be the party that would save them from what capitalists would otherwise be prepared
to do to them again. This strategy worked in large part. The working class, the labor movement, fell
apart. Women and men started playing the old roles
again and not the new ones they had taken on during the war. Segregation and race hostilities were revved
up again where they had not survived so well before. And so the working class fractured, and the
Republicans were able to make real gains, to be the champion of white against black,
as well as the champion of the male worker on the job against women. You can see the situation that gave birth
to modern identity politics in this onslaught of the New Deal. What did the Democratic Party do? Did it go to its roots and say, “No, we’re
gonna be the united working-class”? No, it didn’t know how to fight this battle. The Democrats, too, were hobbled. They didn’t rely on their left wing because
it was tarred with the brush of “Communism” and “Socialism.” So they fell for that kind of splitting of
the labor coalition, and they themselves helped split it further. Indeed, a new generation of Democrats led
by people like Bill Clinton emerged, who said, “Okay, if we can’t hold on to the working
class, maybe we can gain power for the party by appealing to the capitalists. The party not of Franklin Roosevelt but the
party of the other side — the Republicans — split the working class and hurt us. We’ll split the capitalist class and pull
over a bunch of them to support us.” And what you have in recent decades is the
result: two political parties, both of whom are begging for money from the rich, the powerful,
and the capitalists, and each of them with a hand on part of the working class — the
Republicans more and more appealing exclusively to white, male workers, and the Democrats
more and more to female, non-white minorities. This is the modern picture of party affiliation
among the working class that we’re used to. But both parties are unwilling and unable
to challenge capitalism, because both depend on the same funders. They depend on the same support from the same
small part of society. The Democrats thus could not maintain their
oppositional position that they had developed in the 1930s. And the man who comes to power and puts it
all together — Ronald Reagan — he takes the crucial step to finish this job of decimating
the labor coalition. He begins his presidency by throwing the air-traffic
controllers out of their jobs, showing that he is gonna crunch down on what remains of
the labor movement and that he is gonna celebrate globalization. Of course he will help American companies
that want to go abroad! Of course he will help American companies
that want to use this new invention of the computer to get rid of millions of jobs, throwing
people into the chaos of unemployment and hunting for a new job! The power of the business community was rebuilt
as it was before the Great Depression, and the American working class split. Mr. Reagan gets enough of particularly white
male workers to pull away from the Democratic Party to get power. Mr. Clinton, who comes afterwards — he has
given up. He supports the same capitalists, he supports
globalization, he supports all of it. His only claim to the mass of the working
class is: “Look, you should vote for me, not those like Mr. Reagan, because I’ll
soften these developments. I mean, I’ll do the same stuff that he did,
but I won’t do it so harshly. I won’t do it so quickly. Yeah, you’ll lose your job to a computer,
but I’ll give you some help along the way so it won’t be as bad as those Republicans
will let it be.” The Democrats become Republican Light, and
that’s not a winning strategy, not at all. Because the white working class — the men,
and particularly the white men, who increasingly supported mostly the Republicans — helped
the Republican Party win. The Republicans appealed to them. But the white working class was getting frustrated,
as were women, blacks, and others across all this period. Whether it’s Reagan or it’s Clinton, whether
it’s the old Republicans or the Democrats, the underlying reality is that both of those
parties are letting capitalism do what it does: replace people with machines, move jobs
abroad, build up the profits of the few, and neglect the conditions of the mass of people. And people get angry. It takes a while, even decades, but across
the 1980s and 1990s and the first decade of this century, all of these processes are at
work until finally the working class is angry enough to say, “We don’t care whether
it’s the Reagan Republicans or the Clinton Democrats! This is all the same! We want something different!” There is a memory, an echo, a historical trace
of what the working class remembers, even if it was their parents who told them about
something different back in the 1930s. And they want something different. For a while in recent presidential campaigns
you began to see this, as each candidate for President said to the audience at the beginning
of the campaign, “I’m not like every other politician!” You might have thought to yourself, “Oh,
I wonder why they’re saying that they’re something new and different?” Because that’s what people wanted to hear! And then along comes a character, a narcissist,
a baby, a boaster, a bully, Mr. Trump, and he says, “I’m different from all the Republicans!” He looks it and acts it, and he speaks it. So he defeats all of the old Republicans inside
that party, and then he defeats the other side associated with Clinton in the other
party, and he becomes the president. Because the working class was so angry at
what had been done to them in the rollback of the New Deal by Republicans and Democrats
alike, with the only difference being the Democrats did things a little slower. They were so angry they wanted somebody different,
and since the only offer of something really different was Mr. Trump, well, they surprised
everybody by raising their collective middle finger. They voted for him, really hoping that he’d
make a change now — maybe. What’s to lose? as Mr. Trump himself said. So here we have it. We have the working class, which has been
crucial at every step of the way in this history — in coming forward, in retreating, in allowing
the destruction of its institutions that had formerly protected it. You know, in Europe none of this kind of thing
happened in the same way. Why? Because the working class did not suffer the
kind of crushing that happened here. They held on to their Socialist parties, they
held on to their Communist parties, and they held on to their unions, which is why you
couldn’t do in Italy or France or Germany or Scandinavia what the capitalists could
do here after the war. This is why these countries have universal
health insurance and subsidized colleges and all the things that Americans vaguely dream
of, which they have and they will not let go of. So the American working class is at a kind of cross roads, isn’t it? What’s it gonna do now? Is it gonna realize the unity of white and
black workers, of men and women, and on and on? Is it gonna pull that all together? And why should it? Because this tactic won large concessions
the last time in the 1930s, concessions that have been lost since then. No way is Mr. Trump gonna bring you any of
that back. He’s one of them, even if he acts the bully
and acts the crazy. He’s one of them. He’s part of the rollback of the New Deal. Regarding the Democratic Party in 2020: we’ll
have to face all of this even more so if Democrats go for someone like Mr. Biden. With him, the Democrats are saying to the
American working class, “We’ve learned nothing from this history. We’re gonna give you more of what you’ve
shown us you will reject, first when you voted for Reagan, and again when you voted for Trump.” Are Democrats going to choose another one
of those losers, or are they gonna go in a direction of unity — unity of the working
class across all these divisions — by choosing someone more like Mr. Sanders or others in
the primary. It doesn’t have to be Mr. Sanders, and it
doesn’t even have to be any of the declared people right now. It has to be a person representing something
new and different in terms of the recent history but something old that we’ve learned from
in terms of what the Democratic Party was in the 1930s. What it was, it can be again, but the question
is when, and how, and who will make that happen. And this election coming up in 2020 is a first
step in figuring out whether the Democratic Party can rise to this present situation. If it can’t, perhaps new and different parties
will have to emerge that do learn the lesson of the history of the American working class
and its relationship to politics, and therefore, can make a difference and surprise everybody
from the left the way that Mr. Trump’s victory surprised everyone from the right. I hope you found this interesting as a way
to think about the election coming up. That’s what this program was designed to
help you to do. Thank you very much for your attention, and
I look forward to speaking with you again next week.

About the author


  1. I really hope the fed loans amazon more money so I can feel fulfilled at the fulfillment center. I wake up every morning praying pwetty pwease.

  2. This rendition of history makes me think the function of the cold war was to break the back of the American labor movement. The Soviet Union was an ally in WWII then suddenly magically became enemy #1 overnight. How convenient was that?

  3. What the socialist does not understand is that without the small percentage at the top the working class would still live in caves.

  4. If we only could get you on national tv or into every history class in highschool maybe the world would look a lot better today…

  5. It’s all a game for the super wealthy.
    There’s no limits on what greed is capable of … Go figure how & Why anyone needs to win lotto,s in the 10’s and hundreds of millions
    It’s all a manipulation of the common people’s wealth. I call it sophisticated slavery….

  6. The problem with America today is that all of those knowledgeable people like Mr. Wolff are not the ones running for office. I think it was Socrates who said that the problem with shying away from politics is for the idiots to rule over you.

  7. Prof. Wolff telling us socialist bedtime stories again. FDR never sat down with the communists and socialists and had anything dictated to him. He simply put his fingers to the political wind, saw the increasing popularity of socialist ideas among the electorate and proceeded to co-opt both the rhetoric of the Left and hire many of its leaders. These became so content in their new positions that they became staunch FDR supporters and squashed attempts to create new third parties.

  8. I've heard you tell this story a thousand times now, and it's great to know this stuff, but what do we do? I know there's a place for education, but we need action too; where do we get that? I'd like progressive shows like this to start dedicating time to platform or direct its followers to organisations or people who are making a difference so we can do something about this.

  9. Going to be so interesting to see what happens when Trump wins again. DNC cant get their head out of its bottom. We used to be antiwar. Now. Forget it. Identity politics is a loser issue.

  10. Sso is the time of the Bolsheviks come again??..Is it time to abolish private ownership of whatever is left over of the factories and assembly lines?
    What about automation and A.I., will communism turn workers into modern day Luddites?

  11. and now those created systems, are out of control.but they forgot the word " Temporary " .and Johnson expanded this, by enacting the medicaid system, and this system, has helped to bankrupted the SS system. they stole funds to back wars, unknowing to citizens and many others things .

  12. "It has to be something new and different in terms of recent history, but something old and something we learned from in terms of what the democratic party was in the 1930s. What it was, it can be again. The question is when, and how, and who will make it happen".

    Makes us hopeful, but as Bernie always says, "there are a lot of work to do".

  13. Bravo!! Bravo!! I usually just listen and nod in agreement, but this talk was fantastic!!! 🤗🤗🤗 I'm sharing with whom ever will listen! Thank you for this, truth will always win out, it may not look like it now but hold on folks there's a storm a coming Mr.Wayne!! January 2020!

  14. I would like to ask you, do you think if Roosevelt didn't help the working class people at the time the story would have been different for the working class people? That maybe they didn't dissapear? Like..paradoxically the fact that the revolution didn't happen at the time of the crisis let everybody think that there was no need to keep united

  15. The Capitalist aren't gonna share the wealth. Greed is one of the primary 7 deadly sins. Always has been since time immemorial. What Wolff says is true but capitalism has its hooks in democracy

  16. Wolff is right as rain, but corporations believe that greed is good. They aren't about giving one iota of their billions to no poor or middle class people.

  17. Does anyone know that Karl Marx called the workers SLAVES? And I still haven’t read or heard one person, not even a Communist, say that “MARX called them/us slaves”! Almost no one I’ve heard or read will say we’re slaves for wages. Upton Sinclair said the workers are slaves in “The Jungle.” I’ve heard some unknown people say we’re slaves. But no one or not many prominent say it yet, or they show it like Michael Moore but don’t say it. But the lawyer Gerry Spence says we’re slaves. Just say WE’RE SLAVES please. I hope I’ll find someone (everyone) prominent will start saying we’re slaves, and slavery is illegal so capitalism is illegal, and end it now. It’s like they don’t believe we’re slaves.

    AND funny thing is, when rich people own all us slaves, or even one slave, or NO slaves, they’re also slaves! The rich are still slaves TO THEIR SLAVES. All work is slavery, but I mean there are many FORMS of slavery. A married couple are slaves to each other, most don’t usually go to a party or something without at least telling the spouse, but SOME don’t tell. Anyway, when a person has a child, they’re a slave TO the child, and the child is always a slave to the parents. Think: from no diapers, bottles, etc, one day, and the second baby is born the parent/s are slaves. Slavery means “controlled by someone or something.” A long time ago after I gave the definition someone said “but that means we’re slaves to needing food” and I was shocked too, but I realized it’s true, and I thanked them for saying that, &I had a much bigger vision of what the word “slave” really is. It was HUGE! It means we’ll always be slaves to needing stuff to live, like food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and AIR (not car-smog air). So we’ll never be able to end all FORMS of slavery, because it only ends for every person when they die. It’s true, I think, unless I discover something new. But the one and only cause of world poverty is the WAGE, and it’s called capitalism. There are only 2 ways in life: slavery or freedom. Capitalism is a few rich people own everything and pay tiny wages. Then Communism is all people own all things so everything is free, which sounds like freedom! Communism will be freedom! And it will end world poverty, and save the Earth, and end all crime, although it might take up to 10 generations, or 300 years, after ending oppression entirely.

  18. What professor is not telling us , that capitalist system was/is producing jobs so fast , that just to make all the computers needed , companies started to make them in Taiwan , and this is how globalism was born. And globalism is the enemy not capitalism .

  19. Ever since the Clintons I have had no faith in the Democratic party whatsoever. The two parties are two masks on the same face. We were screwed a long time ago. It would take something in the style of the French or Russian revolutions to truly change anything here. I am serious when I say that.An angry mob of ten million armed men with torches , pitchforks and shotguns arriving on Capital Hill, is what it would take to get them to pay attention.

  20. Wow….wow! You could not have ask for a better analization of America present day problem,step by step's like a festering sore that just cannot hide it self no more, good job Sir.

  21. Trump hasn't the intelligence to make a change, he has deligated others to do the work.
    But, he can't even put together a team to do the work
    I doubt if Trump has opened a book since his school days, a second-grade student has a vocab greater than the President. There is a piece missing and I can't put my finger on what it is.
    One thing I am sure, the US is in decline, and with this President, we have decline and chaos

  22. explains how that led to both the Democratic and Republican parties becoming pro-capitalist – which has led to both parties presiding over the exponential growth of income and wealth inequalities along with the political power the richest 10% have, and exploit, over the working class in the U.S. today. Professor Wolff goes on to show that because of this, Trump landing in the White House was a result of the working class’ disgust with both parties.

  23. More on NLRA!

    Supervisors to define can be an issue, exercising discretion bla-bla – valuable labour union asset kicked out. Thanks to Taft-Hartley.

  24. I disagree that machines are evil. If you really believe that, light a fire when you want to cook, send a raven instead of email, walk instead of drive, and dig with a spoon instead with a tractor. That whole angle of "computers destroy workers lives" is bs. It lets people do something less mundane for a living, if they have the brains. But in a generation of morons, few people can do that. Stupidity is the problem, not technology.

  25. I'm 75 years old. I agree with most of what you say. I voted for someone other than a Democrat when I voted for Trump, for the first time in my life. Although I think he is more Democrat than Republican (I still can't believe the Republicans let him run as a Republican). I think we need four more years of Trump. Maybe by then the Democrat party can come around to where they need to be to back the American Worker again. Tulsi Gabbard is the only one running now that I would vote for. But I think she needs to wait until 2024. By then, I think we will be ready to embrace her.

  26. "We killed off enough of the (Indians) to make room for millions of immigrants!" That's utter nonsense. The natives were stone-age people. There were never so many of them that they had to be killed to "make room" for European immigrants.

  27. 75 thousand views? How about 75 million and then Americans will know. This is absolutely the best explanation of what has happened and is happening I have ever seen. Everybody who understands should be emailing a link to this to everyone they know.

  28. Inez Qtaish command , I want a public hearing immediately with the Illinois supreme courf , with every news station reveal the truth publicly immediately or there will be no elections plain and simple. Inez Qtaish will cause choas , don't take my kindness for weakness,, Inez Qtaish is not asing" I have asked for years and asking has led me nowhere. Inez Qtaish is above the Law and the people will do what I say from now on or people will suffer the consequences.

  29. Excellent teaching Professor Wolff. As a retired 68 year old worker, I vividly remember the days when a prosperous middle class & working class existed in the U.S. Supermarket workers earned excellent wages & benefits through strong unionization.

  30. Why are the Democrats holding back on impeachment? All they needed was the financial records of all of Trumps crime family and I thought they got what they're looking for to support Muller's evidence already?
    They must be getting all the evidence on the traitors involed in political and corporate crimes in the Republican party and the Whitehouse. They will give us a mass impeachment party for a Christmas gift!

  31. My question Mr.wolff is about how socialism effects out income.
    To me if 30,000 people have the equivalent income as the other 299,970,000 of the rest of us.
    Would our income damn near double if we eliminated them taking from the rest of us. For the nothing they do?
    If so why is it not being discussed that way?

  32. We completely agree with you economic perspective. We also strongly believe in equal rights for women. However, we disagree with your remarks about "women being pushed back into a subordinate position in the household" after WWII. Since when is raising your own children a "low value" or "subordinate" job? How many working class jobs are more interesting, intellectually challenging, and valuable, than raising your own children and imbuing them with the values of empathy, compassion, social justice, and independent thinking that you also espouse? We've never heard anyone discuss the economic consequences of women joining the labor force en masse (around 1970), doubling the amount of job applicants to employers, which of course suppressed wages, while corporations almost immediately doubled the price of almost everything they sold (housing, cars, appliances, etc.) knowing that now there would be two wage earners in every household. This has nothing to do with gender politics, and has everything to do with basic economics, and more importantly, children being raised in households where both parents are absent during most of their waking hours.

  33. So as soon as he was gone the greedy capitalist started to reverse everything till we end up with what we have today. It sure is obvious to me!

  34. Professor Wolff, thank you for your insight. A breath of fresh air is what I call your programs.

    As for 2020, the corporate democrats have not learned their lesson as they are pushing Warren and Biden aggressively. Meanwhile, they sabotage or try to derail Bernie. For me it's Bernie or bust. I would vote for Bernie only and no one else. No more compromising ✋🏽🚫❌👎🏽.

  35. Here in Quebec, I'd say we stayed in the dark created by the great depression much later, in the 1960s, we managed to get our "quiet revolution" which changed things quickly. Unfortunately, the Reagan economics inspired our politicians at both the provincial and federal level and things declined ever since. Our current Liberals are just like Democrats. Barely the lesser of two evils and they differentiate themselves from conservatives on social issues… People get divided in the same way as they are in the United States. We also need a Bernie Sanders to change the current system, he'd be incredibly popular if he was a party leader in Canada…

  36. Capitalism…’s simple addition and subtraction. Currency is either flowing into or out of your country. When it’s flowing into your country the people’s financial situation and collective bargaining power will improve. When it’s flowing out of your country the people’s financial situation and collective bargaining power will deteriorate. It’s a ever changing system that must exploit the populations production yield. Those who are wealthy will eventually become poor and those who are poor will eventually become wealthier. This is a well known fact and has been happening since the beginning of trade. Capitalism will always guarantee the ebb and flow of currency. It must happen for capitalism to survive. It can be creatively delayed but never avoided.

  37. Wow, I learned something new and subscribed! The interesting part was in 1965 (20 yrs after Roosevelt died), the US installed a puppet president in Indonesia (the 2nd president, Suharto) and he blamed the Communist Party for killing six Indonesian top army generals. At that time, the Communist party was a big party and Suharto killed more than one million communist party members, sympathizers, and ethnic Chinese (alleged communist). He also banned the Communist party.

  38. Thank thank you thank you…I’ve known for ages the switch had occurred – I just couldn’t figure out how it was accomplished..thank you so much for explaining things in such terms as this average person is able to comprehend and understand!…

  39. Hardcore Absolute Fact: Capitalism = Wolf In Sheep's Clothing = Socialism Only For The 1% Elitist Parasites / Communism Predatory State For The 99%!!!!!!!!!!! ( forced upon us by the plague called greedy wealthy scum of Fallen Realm Earth )!!!!!

  40. Hardcore Absolute Fact: ALL wealthy greedy, complacent lazy exploitative families of USA must be eradicated off the face of Fallen Realm Earth!!!!!!!! They are destructive, sociopaths, sadistic, lack empathy, continue endless wars of death, use fiat processes against the masses, destroy our earth of all its beauty or exclude the masses from beauty!!!!! The 1% parasitic elite destroy life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as free sovereign living soul beings of Earth!!!!!

  41. The rich need to pay 90% taxes, they make their money on the backs of others anyway! This is why the people need to vote for issues, not dishonest rich people who will only push for less taxes on the rich.

  42. Reagan was a real idiot, screwing up our country! I don't think any president can change things, everything is rigged, their hands are tied. Just like Pelosi trying to impeach Trump, by him being on the defense, she can deter any progress he tries to make. As a people, we need to vote for issues, not people. A small group of people(congress) voting on what the masses want, is why we are getting screwed now, by letting the rich rule, and putting many people on the streets today.

  43. Man did we ever get sold out…and they left us with a mess…I am amazed when I see the politicians on tv try to convince us of voting for them…there sick lying face just gives them away…i want to by trash the entire lot of them.

  44. Thanks! You have put insights on all these political nonsense.
    I think Andrew Yang( is a good candidate that cares about the working people and the country!
    Please take a minute and check out his policies and ideas!

  45. A pretty informative perspective of the US socio-economic history, starting with the so called robber barrons, the crash of 1929, labor unrest, FDR's 4 terms, social security act, new deal, post-WW2 scale back by the republicans, civil rights, reagonomics and clintonian democrats essentially being 'republican lite'!!! Should come as no surprise in this era of identity politics and the aftermath of 2008/09 crash that we see a fight between the current republican party fighting against democrats who are taking a much greater interventionist/leftist position!!

  46. Richard Wolff described the 85% Rule. The CEO's,board of directors and principal stockholders take possession of a company's profits. The money gets put in armored cars and transported to their bank accounts. They then use 5% for overhead, i.e.the up-keeping of the buildings and infrastructure.Another 5% goes to pay taxes(if they even pay taxes like General Electric).Another 5% goes for employee salaries. And as for the other 85% of the profits?……They keep it for themselves!

  47. Wolf is a liar. The Republican are the party of Lincoln. The democrats are the party of the kkk and Jim crowe. By the way NONE of roosevelt's ideas with his commie buddies helped the country get out of the depression. WW2 got us out of the depression

  48. It's time to team up again and demand what the Unions, the socialist and communist parties asked to former president Roosselvet. People were united, more connected but government has done a great job to divide us.

  49. Ask yourself this question.what would be better, to be a millionaire and pay high tax rates or be a $30.00 hr.,40hrs.a week working class. DON'T LET THEM COMPLAIN THAT TAXES ARE TO HIGH FOR THE WEALTHY.

  50. I spent over $50,000 to learn all this and Prof. Wolff gives this to you for free and in under 30 minutes. If you don't understand the significance of what he says in this video and the importance to share this information, then you haven't been paying attention.

  51. Fantastically easy to understand explanation to help more people understand how we got here. Thank you so much Professor Wolff!

  52. President Trump, to drain the Swamp, is bringing in swamp creatures that he has dirt on and make them do the dirty work of draining the swamp.
    Not only that, nothing more brilliant than having swamp creatures indicting, charging, convicting, whatever, the other swamp creatures.
    It is like being convicted by a jury of your peers!

  53. Maybe the answer is to look at South of the Border. And learn that the People has the power to do what is best for the People. But in a pacific way. Confrontations not allowed. There are Many brilliant minds that can Pull the USA out of the RUT of the Capitalism. Now is the right time to start looking for a real change. Knowing that what the 30´s brought but in the 2020 Ways. Now is the time May the People will have the power to Unite and be a great nation Again.

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