|Richard D. Wolff|
By Robert Wenzel
Richard D. Wolff is a Marxian economist and Professor Emeritus of Economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has also taught economics at Yale University, City University of New York, and the University of Paris I (Sorbonne), amongst other educational institutions.
He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York.
The New York Times, and presumably they would know, has called him “America’s most prominent Marxist economist.”
He is a strong debater, YouTube personality and orator. In the clip below, he makes a very strong argument against Jordan Peterson’s attack on socialism.
Now, I said that Wolff’s argument was strong. It is, but that doesn’t mean it is correct.
He, for example, uses the crusades as an example of mass killings by Christians and he is correct these did occur. But this doesn’t get to the essence of the problem.
The essence of the problem is that when you get a central power ruling an area, and this is almost always the case, it can result in wars both against foreign enemies and domestic civil wars. Whether it is Christian rule or Marxist rule. The central power is the problem.
Thus, by Wolff pointing out other cases of war occurring, it doesn’t get Marxism off the hook. At most, it simply indicates that Marxism is a subset of a greater problem, central planning. The only peaceful alternative to this is the private property society.
But there is something else that Wolff fails to point out. Countries with Marxist economic structures often experience mass death, not by war, but by internal famine. Millions have died this way in the Soviet Union and China. Not to mention the pilgrims who in 1620 came over to America on the Mayflower and settled in Plymouth and suffered mass deaths until they abandoned the socialist structure they were operating under.
So Wolff, in order to make a correct attack of Peterson, would have to explain why the hundreds of millions dead internally in Marxist countries, and which seems to be unique to socialist type countries, is no big deal.
Finally, Wolff’s socialist tired mention of so-called socialist countries such as Sweden and Denmark as a defense of Marxism is what I call the “Bubonic plague defense.”
Some people survived the periods when Bubonic plague ravaged lands but it would be silly to say, “Hey, don’t fear Bubonic plague, look Jack and Tom survived in the period.”
The point is not how many have survived a particular threat but how many didn’t.
It is really remarkable that some, including Wolff, defend Marxism by in effect saying, “Hey don’t blame Marxism. Yeah, under the name of Marxism, millions have died but it hasn’t gotten all of us in every country.”
The “it just needs to run by better leaders” is no defense. If a structure results in hundreds of millions dead, it is a pretty bad structure. And if all it takes is a different leader to put a country into a famine that is a very scary structure.
Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.