Richard Wolff on Lessons from Working Class History

The working class has been crucial, at
every step of the way, in allowing, incoming forward, in retreating, in
allowing the destruction of its institutions that had 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. Which is why they 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] in Europe. So the American working class is at a kind of
crossroads, isn’t it? What’s it gonna do now? Is it gonna realize that the
unity of the white, and black, and men, women, and African-Americans, and on and on… Is
it gonna pull that all together? And why? Because that’s why you won the last
time in the 1930s, and that’s what you lost since then, and 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. And
the Democratic Party in 2020 will have to face that. If they go for someone like
Mr. Biden they’re 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.” Another
one of those losers? Or are you gonna go in a direction of unity, Unity of a
working class across all these divisions, with someone more like Mr. Sanders, or
more like others, it doesn’t have to be him, and it doesn’t even have to be any
of the declared people now. It has to be 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 situation and if it can’t, whether 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 Mr.
Trump’s victory surprised everyone from the right.

Comments 36

  • I encountered an unpayable college debt girl on the dating site Tender. It's really sad how these women can never file for bankruptcy even when many of them didn't even finish college. We are living in a very cruel society.

  • I have zero faith in the current DNC leadership's will or ability to learn or to in any way change their corrupt ways or system. They will cheat progressives once more at the primary, then blame voters and Russia. The Republican party has been openly hostile to most American citizens for decades, so no hope there either. We'll see what happens once Trump turns the military against our own citizens.

  • Maybe representative government has gone as far as it can go. Maybe direct participatory democracy needs to be added to help out.

  • Depopulation is the solution. It's how they fix all problems.

  • Andrew Yang gets all this. He wants Americans to be free. Check out for his policies to help the working class. Then, vote him into office as President of the United States.

  • Mr. SANDERS 2020

  • In case America loses its dominance once exploited countries fights back, among other divisive forces, what should America do to hold itself together and reform itself into something truly great?

  • Elected and Who should

    First how are the elected selected?? It appears the nominee must be very wealthy or a willing  puppet for the corporations!!

    A qualified  candidate selected for and by the people? Please teach us how anyone could compete without billions or even trillions??  Elections-are-Bought

    Could a candidate campaign on (reining) in these multinational corporations?  Complete restructuring our backwards system? Insuring the people's rights of remedy over Corporations!

    Who Should Vote?

    As we look at our past and all of the freedom lost. Why and how was it so easy. I would like to believe our father's fathers wanted the best for us future generations!! ((Mother's​ mothers, Their's Their ,)) We all have the right to vote ?? What percentage of the voting population should Vote??As we look at 

    When a majority of the population (poor, middle class) are not willing, uninformed, misinformed have not a clue who or what they are actually voting for!!!

    Did you see them on TV or hear them on the radio??? WHO PAID FOR THE ADD AND WHY??

    Did they offer a hot dog and a lemonade for your vote?? Was it Shade of Skin, Gender, Free Phone, Jobs or maybe Healthcare???

    Should people vote for me just because I am a Christian??


    Do Politicians Seek Informed voters?? Of course not!! Do you really know who or what you are voting for??

    They can make you think you are Free!! When you are bond with the heaviest chains that will bind you through generations!!

    But you got the free phone!!!

    That are not made here.

    Hale vs. Hinkel, 201 US 43, 74-75

    Corporations engaged in mercantile equity fall under the purview of the State's admiralty jurisdiction, and the public at large must be protected from their activities, as they (the corporations) are engaged in business for profit.

    Emerged at Sea 🤔 Not where we're supposed to be! (Ucc?

    I am an activist in good standing. On this Land some call America. My Duty Status is Active.  Objective is Protection of the Oppressed, Widow, Child and Disabled ! Charged with eliminate, expell the oppressor.  

    Goals for control have taken there toll. We're lifting the shades for all to see! Land nor sea will cover thee!! Resolution Now Let's Talk of what is to be!! This Land , these people are ment to be Free!! From this ungodly (((++????Corpratocracy????))))

    400 million Votes (split) between 2 Coats? (((( Emerge at Sea)))

    Do you have One Corporation that has Two Sub Corporations (let's call them parties) That Pick those smart and conniving enough to fool everyone into believing they voted for our beast! So the sub Corporation Democrat Select their 3 best chances and the sub Corporation Republican picks their best 3!! Now Remember they are working for the same Corporation!!!!

    So did the best man/woman on America Become President??

    Now Look at a Corporate Charter!!! The main objective is Profits ( Dividend) for the Shareholders!!! So these Shareholders receive a Dividend Quarterly!!! When did you Receive Yours???

    Oh you still think your in a Constitutional Republic!!!!!

    You are a Corporation and have been since 1871 do your research then do it Again!!!!

    We need a Remedy! Resolution ? (Pollcast,) national,

    Peaceful Protest¿ (Paid Goons) will Jack that Yup!!!

    Remember they have unlimited funding!!! ( To pay your friend family)

    Suppose? Propose? (Surrender) absorb all assets assuring social safety net!

    ((We Need Our Best 100 Economic Strategist))

    Existing Active  Military Officers, Enlisted and Reserves are to fulfill their contracts. Established Pensions are to be honored!

    Existing Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and (?) Benefits Paid!

    State and Local employee pensions are the secured through the federal Corporation? If so we must unbind them restoring States Rights !

    We Need as Many Examples of Existing non Biased Documented recovery strategies!!

  • Bring in Jason Unruhe

  • Richard Wolff does in a nutshell what others struggle to do in an hour. Great lesson.

  • I have no confidence in the Corporate owned DNC to do the right thing.
    I also believe that aware liberals/progressives watch Professor Wolff and the Independents and Republicans don't. These prescient messages are circulating among people already in the know. The Mainstream media is bought and sold and that's what the others watch. They believe everything is just hunky dory or the liberals are evil scum and refuse to listen to real truth. I believe the DNC will screw over the progressives and we will end up with 4 more years of Trump. They don't care if they lose as long as their donors are happy. Half the population equates socialistic policies with Communist Dictatorships. I am not very hopeful anymore until the crash that's on it's way. Then flip a coin on the outcome.

  • Wow! you always kick ass Mr Wolff.

  • The other day I learned that Eugene V. Debs and the Socialist Party got 6% of the popular vote in the 1912 Presidential Election. It's a shame the party didn't grow beyond that and end up replacing the Democrat or the Republicans. Things would be so much different for the US and the world.

  • Where is the full episode? 😭

  • Capitalism is not Freedom it's about Creed…

  • Mr. Wolff, you always frame people as if they are an homogeneous helpless oppressed group. This is the communist and socialist lie. If you live the right life in America, everyone can be successful. Why do you never tell people that the choices they make have much more impact on their future than any globalist / capitalist system you are constantly railing against? This is the truth. I would love to see one show of yours where you discuss the realities of peoples' lives at the street level, and focus on their role in their lack of prosperity. Again, you could be doing so much good if you were a leader of real people, not just a theorist talking in generalities.

  • And please do a show on how the Colleges that were paid for useless degrees, MUST be made to reimburse the students they criminally deceived. No taxpayer bailout is needed. We know who stole the students' money. If you are unable to support yourself, including paying off your student loan debt, you deserve a full refund as you have been defrauded by your school.

  • it was Identity politics that has totally destroyed the left credibility with the people. "Working class?" all we see is ranting smurf haired feminist and transsexuals that is the left these days. The left through the working class under a bus 30 years ago..No wonder Trump won!

  • I'm for a more fundamental change than simply "restoring" the Democratic party.

  • The way this country is operating, we won't get out of this mess by voting. Our elections are rigged internally by the corrupt parties and the mafia running agencies like DHS. There won't be other parties unless they are sanctioned by the same criminals that have the control. I'm surprised Prof Wolff never discusses this reality. He's not blind, deaf or dumb… What gives?

  • The Working Class did not abandon the Left, the Left abandoned the Working Class for identity politics and special interests. Until such time as the Left reconnects with its roots demagogues like Trump will be able to manipulate the Working Class.

  • Unproductive people o the world UNITE! You have nothing to lose but your welfare subsidies!!

  • Labor (labour) must strongly advocate for the taxation of economic rents if the condition of working people is to significantly improve. This will require some time to implement and there will be one important side-effect, namely a lowering of the price of land which now comprises most of the asset net worth of those who own a residential property valued above the outstanding mortgage debt. Watching from a distance, it looks like Labour in the U.K. is pushing for this change in tax policy. The Australians at one time in their history had it in place, but vested interests managed to water it down to such an extent that Australian property prices are among the worlds' highest.

  • Howie Hawkins from the Green Party has a very good article on the history of leftist third-party organizing and why independence from the Democratic Party is necessary. Everyone should read it:

  • Mr. Wolff is the new punk rock

  • America is not a Democracy. It probably never was. It's an oligarchy. The oligarchs are wealthy capitalists. They don't want democracy getting in their way but they control the masses by telling them they, the people, are in control. It's a brilliant strategy!

  • Richard Wolff is a FOOL !
    How about you scumbags give the Viewers the big long list of Socialist success stories. After 100 years of Communism ( Soviet Union, Cuba, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Venezuela etc ..) there must be an example of a Socialist Paradise that didn't end in Starvation & Death ? Right ? Enlighten us you Marxist scumbags ?
    Capitalism has given the world Everything ! Every major world changing contribution has come from the economic & political system of " Freedom " known as Capitalism.

    Capitalism's contributions to the world – ( The internet, airplane, car, cell phone, computer on and on and on ! Literally everything you have and will come in contact with throughout your entire Life.

    Socialists contribution to the World. its a short but distinguished list.

    1 ) The AK-47 – ( the most effective killing machine of all time and is still going strong )

    where would every Terrorists be without their Socialist automatic rifle ?

    2 ) The concentration camps – Stalin did a really good job but it was the National Socialists in Germany that really perfected them

    3) The Gas Chambers – Again .. another Marxist Special

    4 ) the Secret police – many countries have had them but nobody did it better than the Socialists. the famous " knock on the door in the dead of night " never to be seen again


  • As a member of the working class I can say I have no business trying to have input in fields of expertise outside of my educational background.

    I'd make for a terrible accountant but you want me to have a say in the finances of my place of work?

    Under socialism we'd just slide into communism due to the fact that most people would rescind decision making to more knowledgeable persons which might be legitimate at first, but taking workplace phenomena such as the Peter Principle and peoples need for control & influence into account, things would get very bad, very quickly.

    Don't forget, greed and lust for power existed long before capitalism (considered a grave sin in many world religions that have existed for thousands of years), and Marxism cannot and will not have an answer to this facet of the human condition that will be taken seriously by anyone willing to challenge it.

    The average Marxist doesn't have the will to compete and would get overwhelmed quickly, which is why Socialism is so attractive in the first place.

  • Yugoslavia had best working class system. Japan was sending their officials to copy our model. It worked…than west destroyed it…becouse it worked. It wasnt perfect, we wasnt richest but it was more human than usa or most eu states.

  • This is a REPUBLIC…not a democracy!!! Just goes to show how little the "EXPERTS" and the like actually comprehend!!! Another glaring flaw in your paradigm exposed. Lame. Simply ridiculous and laughable…sad really. Just sayin….

  • representative democracy and capitalism are incompatible. Sortition will create a real people's assembly.

  • Where is whole video? Missing for this week.

  • The only lesson you need to learn is never to buy snake oil especially the brand peddled here by Wolff the salesman. Hope he recovered from the wounds delivered by Eptein.

  • No, the difference between the US and Western-Europe is certainly not caused by the WORKING CLASS. It were socialist thinking intellectuals, who suppressed all influence of corporations on politics. So, what is needed in the US is a radical purification of the Democratic Party of capitalist elites and corporative influence…… the total destruction of the CLINTON HERITAGE.

  • The employee has a job because he knows how to get it done. The manager has a job because he knows how to make sure it gets done. The entrepreneur has a job because he knows what it is. The socialist has anger because he knows nothing.

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