There’s confusion because we don’t agree
on the definitions and we haven’t for a long time and that has to be put on the
table. Otherwise we don’t know what it is we’re in favor of or opposed to and a
lot of the conversation is confused in that way. So here we go.
Very simple, as we come toward the end of the first half of this program we’re
going to give the definitions that we’re then gonna use in the second half to
really tell the story. So the first definition is this: capitalism is when
enterprises are privately owned and operated. They are owned by individuals
or groups of individuals who set them up own them and run them. Socialism by
contrast (in this definition) is when the government does that. It’s not private
groups of people, it’s not private individuals, its officials of the
government who own, who operate, who run the enterprise or at least control it.
Okay, that’s one definition. Here’s a second one: capitalism exchanges goods
and services, both the resources that go into production and the products that
come out of it, by means of market exchanges. Capitalism is the “free market”
where buyers and sellers confront each other and negotiate the terms of
exchanging whatever any of them has to sell or has produced. By contrast
socialism isn’t the market system, it is the government planning and controlling
and directing who gets what and who gives up what for what. In other words
market versus planning, it’s often called. Those are definitions. Here’s another one:
capitalism is when you organize production with a few people at the top
making all the decisions; the owner, the chief executive, the Board of Directors,
and the vast mass of other people called employees doing what they’re told.
Whereas socialism the workers who do the work are themselves their own bosses. Oh
that’s a very different definition. We’re gonna have to look at them because
these different definitions are all cropping up without being dealt with as
they really are. Is it reasonable to think that capitalism is private
enterprise and government taking over the enterprise is socialism? And I would
argue strongly with you that it is not. Let me explain briefly. In previous
economic systems we never reasoned like that. If we saw in
a slave economic system, whether it was in the pre Civil War American South or
any of the many other places in the world where slavery has existed often
for centuries, if we see there, as we do, that there were sometimes private
individuals who owned and worked slaves whereas sometimes there were state
groups, state entities who owned and operated slaves, did we say that one was
slavery and the other one was not? No, we didn’t. Let me give another example. In
feudalism where the division is between the Lord who [owns] the land and the
serf who works on it, were there governments that had serfs alongside of
private individuals who had serfs? Yes. Did we say that therefore that serfdom
or feudalism, the name we gave that system, was somehow not there? No we
didn’t. And I would argue the same logic applies to the capitalism versus
socialism debate. The fact that states, either alongside or instead of private
groups, hire and employ workers doesn’t end capitalism. It is a strange argument
that says because of this relationship between employer and employee operates
outside the state and inside the state therefore one is capitalism and one is
the opposite… Uh-huh. Makes no sense. It isn’t a reasonable
way to go. So then how about the other one? Market
verses planing? It’s the same problem. Did
slaves and feudal societies only deal with markets? No. Did they exclude markets?
No. Slavery is famous for what? The market in human beings. They bought and sold
people, they bought and sold land, etc. etc. So the presence of a market way of
distributing things versus a planned or organized way that exists in all of
these systems and the presence or absence of it in the United States or in
the world today is not, I would argue, a sign of the presence or absence of
capitalism. It shouldn’t be part of the quote debate between capitalism and
socialism. Well then what ought it to be? It ought to be about that third
definition I gave you. It ought to be about what distinguishes a capitalist
system from say the predecessor systems of feudalism and slavery. And that is the
relationship between people in the act of producing the goods and services we
all need.

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22 thoughts on “Richard Wolff Defines Socialism and Capitalism”

  1. with today's technology we could do a planned economy and it would be far better then what we have now
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XFnHA2CJH4&list=PLyWvB7qIEkcjAzt43nYEwtEYMVrOBWXzv&index=22&t=0s

  2. is it that hard to mention commodity production?
    WE DON'T WANT A SOCIETY WHERE WE EXPLOIT OURSELVES
    clap abolish clap the clap wages clab system clap

  3. I don't agree that socialism is controlled by government. That is a regulated economy or state capitalism. Socialism is when the community owns and controls the means of production. We decide how the businesses are run, not the state, not the proprietors.

  4. Not simple enough for dumb people like me. Can we focus on that 3rd definition and make it easier to explain socialism to others?

  5. Socializing, society and socialism are energized by truth ( love).

    Capitalism and it's relentless pursuit of bigger numbers is energized by ignorance (greed).

  6. Marx for you in a simple manner: @t
    And dear friends in the US and so on, start reading www.wsws.org

  7. I am sorry prof. Wolff but Socialism is not when enterprises are in hand of the government. In Socialism they are in hand of workers. Workers govern enterprises through their delegates, and enterprises have their delegates in parliament. If you define government to be a body of workers delegate than you are correct, but if not you are mistaken. I was born and lived in selfregulating socialism (or social democracy as you call it) and I know from the PRACTICE how things worked, not from THEORY. Thanks.

  8. In reality, though there's a lot of disagreement in the comments, governmental control of enterprise is exactly what the American right and often left treats socialism as So as a synchronic definition it is true. The diachronic definition would include possibilities of other aspects mentioned by Prof. Wolfe and the comments section.

  9. "New Timeless Definitions of Capitalism and Socialism, and Communism" is coming. I hope it can go up to Wolff for critique, and maybe Chomsky could review it after. Fingers very crossed.

  10. Richard is incorrect in his thought processes concerning the understanding of the financial system. There is no capitalism in the USA. The "government" of the USA is NON EXISTANT. The government has been HIJACKED by the entity that also owns and controls the worlds financial system and oil. Let us be clear. The ENTIRE financial system has NOTHING to do with citizens or "GOVERNMENT". The ENTIRE financial system is COMPLETELY OWNED AND CONTROLLED by an outside entity. Call them….banksters…..Illuminati…. Cartel…… it doesn't matter the name. The fact is…..they exist and control ALL ASPECT OF THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL SYSTEM. The entity put the Bank of International Settlements and the Federal Reserve INTO EXISTENCE. They control both of them. Every single aspect of the global financial system is either directly controlled or grossly manipulated by the entity. Their goal is to convert the present world reserve currency into a singular unified world currency by way of global financial collapse. They will at some point in time (when the entity is damn well good and ready) significantly raise interest rates and cause the derivative market to implode resulting in ALL central banks to become illiquid worldwide. As the chaos globally ensues…. the entity that CAUSED the collapse will provide the "solution"….. a one world currency (which they will control). This will not happen while Trump is in office due to the fact that he is not in alliance with one world government agenda as the previous president were (Bush Sr., Jr., Clinton, Obama) and he will not implement the all-important Executive Orders in place that is necessary for the control of citizens and conversion of the USA into a one world gov. player. After Trump is out of the office and the next "in alliance" president enters office……. it will be game on. This video with Richard is useless "information". If you want to know what is truly going on in the financial system you need to research and spend significant time studying in detail how it came to be and who saw behind it. Start with Edward G Griffins book "The creatures from Jekyll Island". Then listen to Edwards vid on the United Nations and then Kevin Shipp ex CIA and then the oil and on and on. You need to understand that the entity controlling the worlds money supply is the same entity controlling the real money….. oil. You need to learn that ALL "world" organizations were put in place by this entity. They have placed all the necessary organizations in place to have a one world government in place after collapsing the globe's economy. If you are interested in reading a 34-page article I wrote on this subject….email me at [email protected] You can do with the article you like and I will delete your address after I send the word doc. I am only interested in sharing what I have learned after a 12-year study on finance. My knowledge is accurate and extensive.

  11. Why Richard Wolff is getting it so wrong?
    It does not matter who controls or owns what.
    What matters is, to ensure the perpetual redistribution of sufficient Wealth enough to guarantee the DIGNIFIED existence of every citizen !!! (Ask me, or tell me, how to define DIGNIFIED existence)

  12. NEP anyone? What was Tito's Yugoslavia? Anybody hear about the commons and freeholders? All water under the bridge sent into the dustbin of history. Monopoly, not just a game, that is the game. Ho Ho Ho and a bottle of Joe!

  13. It is time to scrap Capitalism and Socialism.
    It is time for Societism!

    [Bassically Societism is,
    Do not micromanage the society. It is impossible.
    Instead, "wrap" around it to let Wealth and Power self-regulate as they flow through it.

    Societism is all about making laws which build a feedback loop in the systems which propagate Wealth and Power throughout the society.

    Therefore it does not matter who owns or controls what as long as sufficient amount of Wealth and Power gets re-distributed to everybody perpetually. ]

    Wolff's Democracy at work is unworkable idea.

    It is time to change the system to Societism as I described it here.

    (If you want more, Ask me about a Societism-based work place.)

  14. One should differentiate between CAPITALISM AS A WORKING FORM and CAPITALISM IN THE REALITY….. SOCIALISM IS CAPITALISM OF SOCIAL INTERESTS/SERVICES……. SOCIALCAPITALISM IS ESSENTIAL ONE, GOOD AND AN IDEAL……….only seen from the outside there seems division and contradiction!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TO SEE SOCIALISM AND CAPITALISM AS OPPOSING FORCES, AS MANY MARXIST DO, IS BASED ON A WRONG UNDERSTANDING OF MARXIST THEORY. The idea of a state planning the economy is from LENIN, STALIN, TROTZKI, the idea of anarchist.capitalism from 19th century thinkers (time without industry) MARX did believe that by understanding the economic forms it would become possible to manage the system in a humane way and to reduce inequality……… MARX DID RESIST UTOPIAN THINKING OF PROUDHON, TO ISOLATE A NATION, TO DESTRUCT THE NATURAL GROWN ECONOMY AND TO INTRODUCE COLLECTIVE POVERTY……

  15. Root cause of endless Capatilism vs. Socialism debate is smply the absence of true Democratic and justice system.

  16. Defining the Future
    Are we going Further ?
    together in harmony
    Money is temporary
    Capitalism is for people
    Governments be profitable
    Mangement is their key
    Discipline keep them free
    From this bondage, blaming other
    Let em contribute, good for better

  17. Up to 1:57 he gives the real definitions and then agree 1:57 he makes up his own definitions to fit his narrative. You can have your own opinion but making up definitions is dishonest

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