This video is high quality propaganda. Its a wonderful example of how the left uses the media to frame issues and push their agenda. From the very introduction, they introduce Marxist ideology as something that is popular DESPITE efforts to squash it. The video suggests that Marxist ideas are simply so clever that they persist on merit. No mention is made of the billions of dollars spent promoting these ideas.
The video claims that Marx’s work helped shed light on matters of philosophy, biology, economics, etc. This touches on one of the major contradictions in Marxist thinking. Marx encourages us to recognize that what we believe, or what is held as a social norm in our society, is actually socially constructed and not objectively true. However, after tearing down traditional constructs (which often have great utility), they offer replacement constructs as if they were somehow more objectively grounded. If we accept that we are unable to directly perceive the world as it is (this is the first step to tearing down constructs) then how can they offer valid alternatives? A good example is class consciousness. Working men unite! Communists of Marx’s day favored the idea that class was what REALLY united men. They encouraged the abandonment of nationalist identification, asserting that it only made the common man into a tool of his respective oligarchs. The effects of this arguably include the destruction of the French nation. The same people who fought some of the bloodiest battles in history to defend themselves from Germany in WW1 basically invited the Germans to conquer them just decades later. This allowed for the rise of the Third Reich.
From this introduction, which casts Marxists as the heroic underdogs (surely enticing thousands of angsty young people), the video goes on to assert that America is thrashing to survive a capitalist crisis. This is absurd. Even Noam Chomsky admits that the system we have today is nothing like capitalism. The United States has become increasingly socialist for the past hundred years and has declined steadily as a result. This dope Wolff immediately goes off on the assumption that our society today is capitalist and we can therefore attribute its shortcomings to that system.
Socialists like him prey on the naivety of young audiences by attributing things like homelessness to problems in the system. This characterization suggests that every aspect of our lives is part of some grand design and that any problems we experience are merely design failures. In fact, human planning is extremely limited. Capitalists humbly recognize the unfathomable complexity of the world and therefore dismiss the possibility for a totally controlled system. Instead, we focus on ways to empower and protect each individual.
Wolff spend several minutes posturing as if capitalists offer one particular design for the economy and, after careful consideration, he has identified irreconcilable flaws in that design. He alludes to these design flaws but takes his sweet time in identifying any of them, letting the impression of his expertise sink in. He’s a bullshit artist. In fact, advocates of capitalism do not have a design to propose. That’s because, in capitalist literature, the market is an organic system. Markets are capable of growing and adapting naturally.
Wolff finally spits out a weak criticism of the ‘capitalist system’ (whatever that is). Producers, he says, will always seek to reduce their dependence on labor. This makes their enterprise more profitable in the short term but also deprives labor of wages and therefore dries up the pool of consumers who can afford the goods being produced. Wolff does not provide any evidence for this claim, and fails to explain why laborers who cease to be employed in one endeavor would not then be able to take up another occupation. He does not account for law of supply and demand which would compel producers to lower prices if demand for a particular good were to decline.
Next, he jumps to the rapid increase in debt and credit card use in the 1970s. This all leads up to the 2008 collapse, he suggest. But, again, this wasn’t Capitalism! Americans were fed bad signals by government policy makers. Instead of allowing for a natural interest rate, the state run banking system decided that suppressing interests rates would be a good idea. All kinds of legal protections were set up to protect wealthy investors from risk and so they proceeded recklessly. In a capitalist society, the costs of investment include risk. In 2008, the price of failure was appropriated from middle class Americans and redistributed to banks. This is not a free market.
To get an idea of exactly how far we currently are from a laissez-faire world, consider the sheer volume of regulation that exists on business. This burden of regulation translates into a massive compliance work force. In 2014, Citigroup employed 30,000 people full time just to ensure compliance. That’s because putting a toe out of line could cost them billions. It’s hard to see how an enterprise in this position could be called free.
Wolf says that to fool yourself into believing that capitalism was working in the 1900s, you could look only at the developed nations like the US and Japan and ignore what was going on in the rest of the world. Then, he says, western capitalists got the bright idea of moving their factories to places where low labor costs were the product of their having been “savaged” by capitalism. Weird how he would characterize Mao’s Great Leap Forward as capitalist, considering that it was a centrally planned and mandatory effort aimed at a collectivist agricultural system. He’s right about one thing though; it was savage. Tens of millions died in the effort and it still managed to shrink the Chinese economy. That’s when the big bad capitalists showed up and ruthlessly exploited Chinese labor for 50 years. Poor China now has the world’s largest economy. Pretty heart wrenching tale.