AskProfWolff: Is it necessary for a socialist political party to exist to fight capitalism?

AskProfWolff: Is it necessary for a socialist political party to exist to fight capitalism?

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This is a response to Kamal Kamali
who sent in a question that represents an interest many of you have had, and so
I wanted to respond. It has to do with the question of whether or not a
political party, organized political party is a necessary part of a
transition from capitalism to some better socialist system in the future.
There’s a perennial question because it comes up in the minds of everybody who
understands that human history is the history of change; and the change that we
believe is progressive; whether it was going beyond slavery; whether it was
going beyond feudalism; whether it is now a question of going beyond capitalism to
something better. How is that going to be done? What are the means? How do you go
about it? Well, first let’s be clear that the ways
human beings come to understand that a system change is necessary are many, and
they’re very different one from the other. One person thinks that the system
has to be changed because it’s destroying the national, the natural
environment. These you might call ecologically focused people. Others think
the system has to be changed because the way it has organized the relationships
between males and females leave so much to be desired;
is so unjust, that you must change the system, because the system is part of
what has produced, and reproduced over time the very unequal relationship
between men and women; and then there are those who approach it because of the
inequality between rich and poor, between white and black. There are still others
who say that this is a system that is so prone to war, and war on an increasingly
international scale, that there needs to be some change of system,
if only to stop what seems to be an endless series of great power
confrontations. You know, capitalism has to its dubious credit, the production of
the two great world wars of the 20th century; and the whole of the 21st
century has been involved in one localized war after another; always
threatening us; always producing nuclear weapons that could literally annihilate
the planet ,and so on. So for these, and I’ve left out many more, for these many
reasons, people arrive at the notion of the need for a system change, in
different ways; and indeed they understand what the system is, and how to
change it, and what kind of system to put in its place,
in also different ways. If we leave them all to do their different plans, their
different actions, their different projections into the future, on
their own, it’s hard to see how that could add up to enough force, enough
people, enough commitment to make the change happen. After all, those who don’t
want change, the status quo, the governments of this world, the elites of
this world, they’re highly organized; they do possess the army, and the police, and
the apparatus of the mass media, and so on; so they are a formidable force
against change; and the ultimate logic of why a political party is basically the
following: to meet the organized force against change, you have to have an
organized force for change; and I don’t mean force in terms of any necessary
violence, although that’s part of the story through most of human history. What
I mean, is coordination. Different groups with different priorities understanding,
that while they have different priorities, they have a shared
desire in being strong enough to get beyond this system; to being able to do
better than capitalism. So the final point, yes, I think we need an organized
political party, not a dictatorial one, not, not one that denies the differences
amongst us, but one that honestly brings us together, so that together we have the
force we would not have alone in our individual moments and movements. Thank
you for your attention, and I look forward to speaking with you again in
the near future.

74 comments

  1. At the end…Did Harriet just come in the door??? I heard a door slam and keys getting jangled around???…lol

  2. I certainly enjoy this channel, and I don’t want to seem like a troll, but I think the issue with socialism, and many socialists agree, is that it really can only work on a global level, if it can work at all. Capitalism has problems, no doubt, but is the system responsible, or human fallibility? It certainly is a way to exonerate human greed, selfishness, and all the other unpleasant qualities of people to externalize the blame on the system. Plus, who are the thought leaders to usher in the new era of enlightenment? The people who are the voices today aren’t modern contemporaries of Locke, Rousseau, and others.

  3. This is indeed a very important point: the forces of change must create their own political institution by means of which they can enter the political stage itself.

  4. "All talk to the effect that historical conditions have "ripened" for socialism is the product of ignorance or conscious deception. The objective prerequisites for proletarian revolution have not only "ripened"; they have begun to get somewhat rotten. Without a socialist revolution, in the next historical period at that, a catastrophe threatens the whole culture of mankind. The turn is now to the proletariat, ie., chiefly to its revolutionary vanguard. The historical crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary leadership…"…Leon Trotsky, The Transitional Programme ( The Death Agony of Capitalism and the Tasks of the Fourth International). 1938

  5. I believe the Gridlock in D.C. will go on forever by maintaining the two party system. However, Perot tried to add an Independent party as the 3rd Party. He withdrew after he was reaching many potential voters for the Independent Party.
    I'm sure some of you remember the persistent
    Ross Perot.

  6. socialist political party???? – Why not just an Independent Party? A party that is only about 4 fundamentals – F L A G = Fairness, Logic, Accountability & Goodness? This would be a party wild and free of corruption. I'm sure this notion would bring fear to anyone wanting to control vs. simply bring balance. No More Agendas, No More Political Concepts, No More Loyalism to Old Fashioned Politics!

  7. In this system yes. But in the new system there are only individuals, no parties.

  8. The problem monseigneur Wolff is socialism smells too much of Trotsky and Stalin. The solution is not political because the problem is economic. However, you are right.

  9. Can someone explain how capitalism caused the two great world wars? Or, at least point to some evidence of this.

  10. Thanks, Dr Wolff, Brilliant! yet common sense. Personally I think Green Party, Social Democrats, Democratic Socialist, Socialist & JUstice dems, Progressive dems need to unite! Join forces & resources! NEW name – Many whispers or one loud SHOUT!

    First we get Bernie elected! Remeber he is an Independent Senator, he's pragmatic so runs on dem ticket . Philosophically he's a democratic socialist. A rose is still a rose.

  11. i might argue that socialist parties could actually hurt the fight, since if the movement is centralized around a single entity, that entity could be influenced by corruption or by a mix of bad ideas in their leading form of socialism.

  12. We're all in this together. Solidary is more than a slogan. Let's make it reality. Organized money has a lot of power, but organized people have more. Still skeptical of the party idea, but I like the focus on not pulling in different directions. Thank you for the content and your thoughts Prof Wolff, I'll have a question to ask you on Patreon one day.

  13. Clearly, America is the one living under the rock or you're_ simply dilatory. Germany, Sweden, France, Holland has PUBLIC HEALTH CARE is the best in the world. I pay only 30 dollars to be admitted in a hospital and it covers anything from influenza shot to a triple bypass heart surgery. You name it, whatever is your health problem, it will be fixed as long as it takes and at no extra costs… PENSIONS, MONTH LONG PAID VACATIONS as well as maternity leave, unemployment & disability insurance. German workers actually earn MORE hourly than American workers, so do Sweden & Switzerland. They're some of the biggest SOCIALIST democracies in the EU & they are showing RECORD GROWTH. What they aren't doing is BORROWING to accomplish all that. They pay for it with TAXES. Wake Up America your all being screwed, scammed and brainwashed. You're in a no-win situation.

  14. no! mr Wolff, please, read Bakunin and you will understand why Marx was wrong on that point, which was proven by the history of the maxist states in 20th century. You cant destroy hierarchy by making a new hierarchy, you cant destroy the system from within, politicians are corruptable, the moment they cease the power their personal interests become opposite to the working class

  15. The World’s Most Dangerous Nuclear Weapon Just Rolled Off the Assembly Line

    With the creation of a new “mini-nuke” warhead, the US is making nuclear war all the more probable…

    Last month, the National Nuclear Security Administration (formerly the Atomic Energy Commission) announced that the first of a new generation of strategic nuclear weapons had rolled off the assembly line at its Pantex nuclear weapons plant in the panhandle of Texas. That warhead, the W76-2, is designed to be fitted to a submarine-launched Trident missile, a weapon with a range of more than 7,500 miles. By September, an undisclosed number of warheads will be delivered to the Navy for deployment.

    What makes this particular nuke new is the fact that it carries a far smaller destructive payload than the thermonuclear monsters the Trident has been hosting for decades – not the equivalent of about 100 kilotons of TNT as previously, but of five kilotons. According to Stephen Young of the Union of Concerned Scientists, the W76-2 will yield “only” about one-third of the devastating power of the weapon that the Enola Gay, an American B-29 bomber, dropped on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Yet that very shrinkage of the power to devastate is precisely what makes this nuclear weapon potentially the most dangerous ever manufactured. Fulfilling the Trump administration’s quest for nuclear-war-fighting “flexibility,” it isn’t designed as a deterrent against another country launching its nukes; it’s designed to be used. This is the weapon that could make the previously “unthinkable” thinkable.

    There have long been “low-yield” nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nuclear powers, including ones on cruise missiles, “air-drop bombs” (carried by planes), and even nuclear artillery shells — weapons designated as “tactical” and intended to be used in the confines of a specific battlefield or in a regional theater of war. The vast majority of them were, however, eliminated in the nuclear arms reductions that followed the end of the Cold War, a scaling-down by both the United States and Russia that would be quietly greeted with relief by battlefield commanders, those actually responsible for the potential use of such ordnance who understood its self-destructive absurdity.

    Ranking some weapons as “low-yield” based on their destructive energy always depended on a distinction that reality made meaningless (once damage from radioactivity and atmospheric fallout was taken into account along with the unlikelihood that only one such weapon would be used). In fact, the elimination of tactical nukes represented a hard-boiled confrontation with the iron law of escalation, another commander’s insight — that any use of such a weapon against a similarly armed adversary would likely ignite an inevitable chain of nuclear escalation whose end point was barely imaginable. One side was never going to take a hit without responding in kind, launching a process that could rapidly spiral toward an apocalyptic exchange. “Limited nuclear war,” in other words, was a fool’s fantasy and gradually came to be universally acknowledged as such. No longer, unfortunately.

    Unlike tactical weapons, intercontinental strategic nukes were designed to directly target the far-off homeland of an enemy. Until now, their extreme destructive power (so many times greater than that inflicted on Hiroshima) made it impossible to imagine genuine scenarios for their use that would be practically, not to mention morally, acceptable. It was exactly to remove that practical inhibition — the moral one seemed not to count — that the Trump administration recently began the process of withdrawing from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, while rolling a new “limited” weapon off the assembly line and so altering the Trident system. With these acts, there can be little question that humanity is entering a perilous second nuclear age.

    That peril lies in the way a 70-year-old inhibition that undoubtedly saved the planet is potentially being shelved in a new world of supposedly “usable” nukes. Of course, a weapon with one-third the destructive power of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, where as many as 150,000 died, might kill 50,000 people in a similar attack before escalation even began. Of such nukes, former Secretary of State George Shultz, who was at President Ronald Reagan’s elbow when Cold War-ending arms control negotiations climaxed, said, “A nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon. You use a small one, then you go to a bigger one. I think nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons and we need to draw the line there.”

  16. You will never have socialism if your money system is privately run FOR profit by the Fed. They do NOT just keep the books, Wolff. Are you aware of this fundamental incongruence, disconnect in your thoughts? You can't have post-capitalism if the finance decisions are made by private bankers and speculators through the Fed.

  17. I agree on the need for organization. However, in the US two party winner take all system, I see a progressive revolution in the democratic party, not third parties or creating a new party de novo, as the most practical approach. Third parties and popular movements should actually focus on helping the progressive revolution in the democratic party succeed.

  18. No single approach works all the time. The people have to know when course corrections are needed. At this present time, I think it's obvious that we have allowed concentrated wealth to become too solidified, and that it has way too much influence on our government, so much so that it seems willing to adopt radical, and unconstitutional methods to protect its' power. Look at the unconstitutional laws being passed across the country to strip power from newly elected office holders after losing their fight in the basic exercise of our democracy, elections. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, all weapons to prevent people from exercising citizen control over the government.

  19. Good conclusion. And well said. IMO A Socialist Party is needed to bring about a change away from Capitalism because as you say, they, are organised, and there's a lot to change so we have to be organised too to do things in the best ways to bring about the change, otherwise, it doesn't happen. It, if they don't place their plants, fake Socialists as Im sure they have elsewhere on the planet, to try and blacken the name of Socialism, if we can stop, or limit the effect of that on us, then we can be very democratic, which is the TRUE BELIEF of Socialism or Communism, we believe in redistributing Political Power and decision making down to a local level; as much as possible allowing ordinary citizens wherever to get involved if they wish on anything that can be reallocated to be sorted out on a local level and any voted for Representatives could have shorter recall periods

    and would have to go passed their local voters to and form their place of work which would be as locally as possible too, so harder for them to disobey what they've been voted in to do ,and even if they did, they could be voted out and replaced much quicker, as I said quicker recall.

    THAT IS A TRUE CENTRAL PRINCIPLE THAT ALL TRUE SOCIALISTS AND COMMUNISTS WANT TO WORK TOWARDS AND IS THE ONE PRINCIPLE THE MEDIA OWNED BY THE RICH WHO OWN MOST MEDIA WILL NEVER TELL YOU ABOUT

    – WHY ? –

    BECAUSE ITS VERY DEMOCRATIC THATS WHY – FAR MORE DEMOCRATIC THAN THEIR CAPITALIST SYSTEM – OR HOW CAPITALISM WORKS ANYWAY BEYOND THEIR PROPAGANDA ABOUT HOW ITS MEANT TO WORK.

    In time under True Socialism as Democratic as that we would create a much better more caring for each other and more supportive of each other and far less polluting to environment system BUT WE NEED A PARTY TO ORGANISE THE TRANSITION AND THE SET UP OF THE NEW SYSTEM BECAUSE THEY WILL BE VERY ORGANISED AND WILL TRY EVERYTHING TO STOP US

    AND LIKE SAID VERY CORRECTLY IN MY OPINION THAT CHANGE OF SYSTEM CANNOT COME ABOUT WITHOUT A POLITICAL PARTY TO ORGANISE AND LEAD THE OPPOSITION/ MOVEMENT NECESSARY FOR THE CHANGE OF SYSTEM.

  20. We need to create some kind of 21st century Communist Party and Communist International. This is something I'm becoming increasingly convinced of, but it sure is hard to broach the subject….

  21. Anthropology shows that "hunter-gatherers" spend maybe 15-20 hrs/week on existential needs (food, shelter etc.)—and we with every "convenience" barely survive on 40-60 hrs+/week. Yet most people know they can do a job's real work/pull their weight in half that time. The rest of each work-day, then, goes to somebody else's PROFIT. "Profit" = taking more than you put into an exchange, which can't work mathematically let alone socially: hence the constant war, fear and lies. "Profit" also relates to "advantage" and "progress"—it makes "progress" (toward what?) by DIS-advantaging the other guy—and so the more we work, the more we advantage others over us. We need "permanent strikes" that walk out on Profit—where people work only half the week and take their freedom from there. Worker Cooperatives without CEOs, Labor Exchanges, outright sharing. How to get started? https://jackdempseywriter.wordpress.com/2011/08/05/woop-we-the-workers-of-the-world-walk-out-on-profit/

  22. Any socio-economic system – capitalism, socialism, communism – when unbridled, leads to upheavals. Opportunists, greedy/manipulative people preying on others to do their bidding look to find a way to game the system so they can have inordinate power/money. That's where your Authoritarian & Oligarchical systems come into play. True democracies can be a fragile & tumultuous commodity. Individuals can inspire, but not create change by themselves. So yes, something on the order of a political party becomes necessary to evolve (preferably) in a (relatively) peaceful manner.
    Of course, if the kooks (those you can't reason with) have loads of weapons & ammunition, we got other problems.

  23. Hi Wolf always a pleasure to listen to your videos. I was wondering if you could share your opinion on the Fiat system and if it truly works for society.

  24. We need more videos on the history of socialist and de-facto socialist entrepreneurs like A. P. Giannini who basically invented retail and branch banking and did so as worker co-ops. https://youtu.be/TxbZlRuo9MI The history of socialism in the US is important to understand the selective amnesia and the propaganda used to erase socialism from the public consciousness. We can do better than third-world anarcho-capitalist dictatorship.

  25. Mr. Wolff, could you please share your thoughts on the neoliberal Russia scare? I personally think it is an attempt to justify conflict with Russia in order to have a proxy war unfold in Venezuela.

  26. I would love to participate in a Socialism themed discussion group here in Orange County California. Does anyone else know of one, or want me to start one here at the Marina Hills Swimming pool in Laguna Niguel and put it on Meetup.com ?

  27. Our politics as a country were improved in the past in some specific instances when there was an existing socialist party..Rather than winning elections they came up with solutions for problems facing politicians in office. The two party system is licked into place so they either have to form a caucus within an existing party or put pressure from outside in order to produce change in governance.

  28. I'll be the 1st person in line waiting to sign up for the socialist party of America. What are we waiting for? Let's stop waiting and push forward without anyone's permission.

  29. The Socialist Equality Party (SEP) is just what Dr. Wolff says we need to organize. For more information visit WSWS.org

  30. Just tell us which party to rally behind. Get Bernie and Tulsi to join that party, because the DCCC and the corporate powers will do the same thing they did to us in 2016. Which party ? Working Family’s Party ? The People’s Party ? The Green Party? Because it’s obvious we are not going to take over the Democratic Party from within. We still have time to do this. Let’s get it done !

  31. In order to have a political party have success you have to have allowed open consideration of ideas upon which such a party might exist. Ideas are distributed via language and herein lies the problem. We currently have a public that has been propagandized against certain language for about 100 years, since corporations first coalesced to fight Roosevelt in 1932. Under their success, words like communist, Marxist, and socialist, are verboten language today. A fair assessment of the prospects of a political party whose language is taboo and discounted is not positive.

    Therefore what is needed BEFORE a political party is a reestablishment of the legitimacy of the vocabulary of that party. This would require a leveraging open of the public mind via media. I would guess we are 20 years away from seeing an American Socialist Party who could be expected to be included in national debates and invited to contribute to popular TV etc.

  32. I would love to see Richard Wolff and Peter Joseph sit and have a discussion. The exchange of information would be the ultimate experience for thinking people.

  33. You can’t get people from in front of their TV. How are you going to get them to change the world.
    There was a point in time we needed Democrats. It’s over.

  34. The FBI came after 4:30 and arrested the professor for communist conspiracy.. Just enough time to finish his video..

  35. If Marx was right..and let's face it he wrote the book on the subject… capitalism will destroy itself..so the only question is why get in the way….that's of course if Marx was right…but that's another story…sorry professor

  36. The attempt at establishing socialism through the political process has a very checkered history of success. In fact, it's been tried before; that's actually more or less how the Social Democratic Party in Germany began, which today only strives to reform capitalism rather than abolish it.

    It would be a ponderous and nearly impossible project seeing as socialists are, and always have been, HIGHLY factionalized. Within Marxism alone there are significant divisions between Trotskyists, Maoists, Luxemburgists, etc. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be a naysayer, I just want to get the point across that there exists certain areas of conflict between various socialist schools of thought that must be recognized and reconciled before we could even seriously discuss forming a coherent political party. Not to mention absorbing the ones that already exist.

  37. Capitalism fights itself – is called COMPETITION! Doesn't need bozos with stupid ideas to throw sand in the gears. LOL!!!!!

  38. Single or an organized party
    the change is not a Royalty
    if the system is to change !
    ideologies Come to chains
    Commits those are unchanged
    Forces potentially are blamed
    Organized party is needed
    Changes ways were headed

  39. HILARIOUS ! Venezuela is Starving to Death. The Only example that you Neo-Marxist scumbags can give of Socialism working is the Free market economies of Northern Europe. LOL ! " I think standing in line for Food is a GOOD THING ! " Crazy Bernie Sanders ( 1978 )
    How about those National Socialists in Germany in the 1930's ? Worked out Great. Castro ?

  40. Within the Democratic party there is a pushback to the voter suppression. Elections need to be reformed, if we can change the electoral process to a ranked choice, or other system, it would better allow for more smaller parties to gain representation. Election reform is key.

  41. Good to know that "capitalism" (not further qualified by you) is responsible for the First and Second World Wars. You call yourself a "professor"??? You should be ashamed of yourself. You're a delusional loon.

  42. Hm, strong argument for making Xi Jinping president of USA, and a government that's for the many, for the people, and not for the rich only.
    Look to China where the governments goal is to bring everybody out of poverty, contrary to the US government that seems hell-bent of creating nation-wide poverty.

  43. 👍🏻 simple and clever.
    Instead of fighting with each other over skin color , on any other issues, missing the most important.

  44. You’re so right! America, close down ALL WEAPONS manufacturing and all related JOBS which they create! We can’t let them make one more weapon! We also can’t let anyone make STUFF that any MILITARY needs, eliminate all military jobs! Just think of all the capitalists JOBS that will eliminate! What else should we eliminate? How about all GAMES where people kill other people, and can do it for 10 years, but it might have to be for 20 years or forever! We’ll see what’s happening at that time: are there fewer shootings, whatever. Oops, that will eliminate hundreds of thousands, if not millions of JOBS! What will all those people do if their jobs are eliminated! So many jobs, what will all those people do to pay bills, oh my, they’ll all be homeless and starving, oh no, “we can’t eliminate all those jobs”! YES we can and we must! Because it’ll just help prove that it’s very wrong to have a WAGE system! Those jobless people might join the Socialists and Communists in saying the wage system must be replaced by saying all people own all things…so that we can eliminate money and end world poverty, because the USA WAGE system is the CAUSE of world poverty! Fear every capitalist because they love profits more than people! They think a FEW RICH people should have ALL the money and OWN ALL things! Don’t fear Communists who, you’ll see if you read their WORDS, have only wanted to HELP POOR PEOPLE to save lives, and help them have better lives, without DEBT so that all food, shelter, clothing, medical care etc, is FREE! The fact that now most money is just numbers in computers, and could eliminate money, like Communists want (free stuff, no money), should prove that now we need communism and it WILL WORK PERFECTLY, and that’s what GOD wants, always wanted! (See Malachi 1:6 He who earns wages earns wages to put it into a bag with holes.) And if you want to know more if that’s what God wants, I can show you lots of proof IN the Bible. Bible readers need to stop reading the SPIRITUAL words and think about LIFE on Earth words, especially Isaiah and Jeremiah. But also the 4 Gospels and Jesus’s words. Try it please. And mostly, ignore all hateful capitalists, who are quite often just poor people!

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