Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism

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Overview

A new historical vista is opening before us in this time of change, Wolff writes in this compelling new manifesto for a democratic alternative based on workers managing their own workplaces.

Capitalism as a system has spawned deepening economic crisis alongside its bought-and-paid for political establishment. Neither serves the needs of our society. Whether it is secure, well-paid and meaningful jobs or a sustainable relationship with the ...

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Overview

A new historical vista is opening before us in this time of change, Wolff writes in this compelling new manifesto for a democratic alternative based on workers managing their own workplaces.

Capitalism as a system has spawned deepening economic crisis alongside its bought-and-paid for political establishment. Neither serves the needs of our society. Whether it is secure, well-paid and meaningful jobs or a sustainable relationship with the natural environment that we depend on, our society is not delivering the results people need and deserve.

One key cause for this intolerable state of affairs is the lack of genuine democracy in our economy as well as in our politics. The solution requires the institution of genuine economic democracy, starting with workers managing their own workplaces, as the basis for a genuine political democracy.

Here Wolff lays out a hopeful and concrete vision of how to make that possible, addressing the many people who have concluded economic inequality and politics as usual can no longer be tolerated and are looking for a concrete program of action.

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is currently a Visiting Professor at the New School University in New York. Wolf is the author of many books, including Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. He hosts the weekly hour-long radio program Economic Update on WBAI (Pacifica Radio) and writes regularly for The Guardian, Truthout.org, and the MRZine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Probably America’s most prominent Marxist economist.”
—New York Times Magazine

“Imagine a country where the majority of the population reaps the majority of the benefits for their hard work, creative ingenuity, and collaborative efforts. Imagine a country where corporate losses aren't socialized, while gains are captured by an exclusive minority. Imagine a country run as a democracy, from the bottom up, not a plutocracy from the top down. Richard Wolff not only imagines it, but in his compelling, captivating and stunningly reasoned new book, Democracy at Work, he details how we get there from here — and why we absolutely must.”
—Nomi Prins, Author of It Takes a Pillage and Black Tuesday

"Richard Wolff is the leading socialist economist in the country. This book is required reading for anyone concerned about a fundamental transformation of the ailing capitalist economy!" - Cornel West

"Ideas of economic democracy are very much in the air, as they should be,
with increasing urgency in the midst of today's serious crises. Richard Wolff's
constructive and innovative ideas suggest new and promising foundations for
much more authentic democracy and sustainable and equitable development,
ideas that can be implemented directly and carried forward. A very valuable
contribution in troubled times." —Noam Chomsky

“Bold, thoughtful, transformative—a powerful and challenging vision of that takes us beyond both corporate capitalism and state socialism. Richard Wolff at his best!”
—Gar Alperovitz, author of America Beyond Capitalism; Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy, University of Maryland

Praise for Capitalism Hits the Fan (book and DVD)

“With unerring coherence and unequaled breadth of knowledge, Rick Wolff offers a rich and much needed corrective to the views of mainstream economists and pundits. It would be difficult to come away from this... with anything but an acute appreciation of what is needed to get us out of this mess.”
—Stanley Aronowitz, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Urban Education, City University of New York

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608462476
  • Publisher: Haymarket Books
  • Publication date: 10/2/2012
  • Pages: 220
  • Sales rank: 236,934
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author


Richard D. Wolff is a American economist, well-known for his work on Marxist economics, economic methodology and class analysis.

Wolff received his Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1969. Wolff taught at the City College of New York from 1969-1973, and teaches graduate seminars and undergraduate courses and direct dissertation research in economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

He has authored numerous articles and books and has given many public lectures at colleges and universities (Notre Dame, University of Missouri, Washington College, Franklin and Marshall College, New York University, etc.) to community and trade union meetings, in high schools, etc. He also maintains an extensive schedule of media interviews (on many independent radio stations such as KPFA in Berkeley, KPFK in Los Angeles, WBAI in New York, National Public Radio stations, the Real News Network, the Glenn Beck Show, and so on).

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I Capitalism in Deep Trouble 17

1 Capitalism and Crises 19

1.1 Capitalism's Instability and Unevenness 26

1.2 Welfare State Capitalism, 1945-1970s 31

1.3 Capitalism, 1970s-2007: The Crisis Building from Below 37

1.4 Capitalism, 1970s-2007: The Crisis Building from Above 46

1.5 A Digression on What or Whom to Blame 49

2 Crisis and Government Response 53

2.1 The Bailouts and Federal Budget Deficits 56

2.2 The Bailouts and the National Debt 60

2.3 The Bailouts, Monetary Agencies, and Monetary Policies 68

3 Crises, Forms of Capitalism, and Beyond 79

3.1 Capitalism 79

3.2 State Capitalism 81

Part II What Is to Be Done? 85

4 The Major Problems of Private Capitalisms 87

4.1 Distributing the Surplus 88

4.2 Private Capitalism and Democracy 90

5 The Major Problems of State Capitalism 99

5.1 Key Differences between Capitalism and Socialism 100

5.2 Twentieth-Century Socialisms 102

5.3 Socialism and Surplus Analysis 103

5.4 Socialism and Democracy 110

5.5 A Concluding Parable 113

Part III Workers' Self-Directed Enterprises as a Cure 115

6 What "Self-Directed" Means 117

6.1 Worker-Owned Enterprises 119

6.2 Worker-Managed Enterprises 120

6.3 Cooperatives 122

7 How WSDEs Work Internally 123

7.1 The Two Kinds of Workers in Every WSDE 128

7.2 Handling Technical Change 130

7.3 Handling Environmental Issues 133

7.4 Handling the Distribution of Incomes and of Jobs 135

8 Property Ownership, Markets, Planning, and the Efficiency Myth 139

8.1 Macro-Level and Micro-Level Transformations 140

8.2 Ownership of WSDEs 141

8.3 WSDEs and Markets 142

9 Economic and Political Democracy 145

9.1 Democracy in the Workplace 147

9.2 Containing Democracy 148

9.3 Democracy and Crises 151

10 WSDEs in Modern Societies 155

10.1 The Competitive Success of WSDEs 156

10.2 When WSDEs and Capitalist Enterprises Coexist 158

10.3 WSDEs and the State: Economic Flows 161

10.4 WSDEs and the State: Political Flows 165

11 Program and Personnel for Increasing WSDEs 169

11.1 A Federal Jobs Program 169

11.2 Alliances with Cooperative Movements 172

11.3 Alliance with the Trade Union Movement 173

11.4 The "Organic Intellectuals" of the WSDE Movement 175

11.5 A New Independent Political Party 179

Conclusion 181

About the Author 186

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 8, 2013

    How to book on reworking capitalism

    Easy to read, important to know, this book, in a matter-of-fact way, presents both the problems of capitalism, as well as some concrete solutions to solve them. The main solution presented is the introduction of Workers' self-directed enterprises, or WSDE's. Wolff argues in favor of this change rather persuasively, provoking the reader to question the basics of capitalism itself-its means of production-as well as why a seemingly simple and effective change such as this hasn't already been made. The only negative one can raise is that the whole book is built around the assumption that capitalism is indeed "sick" and that it can be changed from within the system. Granted you accept that assumption the book makes sense.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 21, 2013

    Definitely check it out!

    Wolff writes that the capitalistic machine is broken and that it cannot be tinkered with any further to wring out ways to prevent financial crises. This is not a new discovery but the ease with which the insights of historical events were used to explain this, gives the layperson a sound grasp of the workings of the capitalist system.

    The alternative socio-economic system that is proposed, one that is based on worker-directed enterprises, is intricate; giving way to ebbs and flows of hope.

    Overall, the book is a good source as a reference for the continued germination of thoughts and actions geared towards addressing socio-economic inequalities.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2013

    Highly recommended

    The book consists of two parts: a highly compelling analysis of how the country has gotten into its present economic and political cul de sac, and a proposal for worker-controlled enterprises to alter the dynamics of our economic and political systems. It is worth considering and should attract the involvement of others in developing and promoting the concept. It is weak (because it is a short book) in incorporating and detailing the results of the many experiments in this field, notably the Yugoslav worker management system that was a casualty of the breakup of that country.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2013

    This is an excellent book that outlines a way for society to pro

    This is an excellent book that outlines a way for society to progress from the traditional capitalist organization of production. Its an easy, short read. I recommend it to everyone because the implications of its ideas can help all in society.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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