Richard Wolff Critiques Libertarian View that Capitalism’s Problem is the Government


The notion that the government’s
intrusion into the economy is some sort of external influence (some sort of
outside intrusion on what would be better left without such intrusions), I
would argue based on a lifetime of work in the field we call economic history,
that this is a complete illusion. Strong government has been part of capitalism
throughout its history. It has been something both denounced by
capitalists and yet eagerly embraced by them, usually at the same time. Nor is
that all that unusual. We are often angry at the things we are
most in need of, and we can live the contradiction between needing it and
being angry about it all at the same time. And I think this is no exception.
let me give you some concrete examples. Nothing is more important to the modern
functioning of a capitalist economy than money. But to whom do we entrust the
production, distribution, and control of the money we use every day, all the time?
The government. We give the government an extraordinary power by being the only
one allowed to print the money, to mint the coins, to set the interest rates, to
determine how much money is in the economy. And we do that because
capitalism needs it. In every capitalist country there were times when lots of
people were allowed to produce money and that produced a level of chaos that led
in every country for one authority (the government) to be given that job, and for
everybody else to be told “if you print money yourself, we’re going
to put you in jail.” So the government is awfully important isn’t it by having
been given the control, the origination power, for money. But let me give you some
others. Here in the United States the government took the land from the Native
Americans and distributed it to other people. The economic effect of that [was]
staggering. Staggering. The government controls the waterways. The government
controls traffic into and out of the country. The government controls the
movement of people into and out of the country. The government sets limits on
weights and measures, and makes sure this scale in the butcher shop is accurate
and not swindling us. We’ve brought the government in to check on food and drugs
to make sure it’s pure. You know why? Because capitalists adulterated it. On
and on. Capitalism has always needed a powerful government. We need an apparatus
to prevent us from killing one another, and stealing from one another, and
likewise from having folks outside come in and steal our stuff, etc.. So
the notion of a capitalism without a government has only one adjective that
really applies: it is a utopian fantasy.

Maurice Vega

18 Responses

  1. Can i have a number of examples where, when money created in a free market causes chaos (For my own research).
    Also a libertarian would argue that government issuing money isn't a problem as long as they don't debase the currency e.g. gold standard however when they start manipulating the economic system for their own ends that causes distortions and wealth transfers in the market that would not take place in a free market.

  2. Wouldn't it be fair to say that a free market could very easily set a rate of interest by finding a free market equilibrium between savings and the demand for loans. And also the fact that governments have control of interest rates and the fact they create them artificially low causes huge wealth transfer and mal-investment within an economy. And inflation as seen in stock market (the everything bubble)

  3. Alos at the end you say people will be killing stealing etc so is a utopia. But most moderate libertarians e.g. Milton Friedman and the founding fathers of america knew that a state was needed to protect freedom and liberties as it states in the constitution "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness " are to be protected by the state. However libertarians argue it isn't the job of the government to make everyone happy

  4. Richard, you forget that it is capitalist private owners that make and charge the government for the money they use. So who has the ultimate power? You also forget that the leading influence on government is capitalist wealth. The problem is Capitalism controlling government. Capitalism has to go

  5. I'm getting confused now ; it sounds as if the prof is supporting big govt ?
    In a sensible setup govt is small and only ratify laws as laid down by we the people… that is democracy.

  6. I very much like Dr Wolff, I often make the argument that libertarianism is a fantasy myth not an economics at all. It is a story invoked around campfires of anti-social cranks who intrinsically understand that stories move mountains. However the same is true of the mirror-image group the politically correct post modern petty tyrants that, by claiming moral superiority, presume to run any person's life including making certain language illegal, for the greater good.
    So government as good or bad is a nonsense issue in itself, something to stimulate the minds of 18 year-olds in intro pol sci 101 but useless for adults with interests and experience. Too little government is a Wild West with Mafia, too much is Soviet Politburo iron fist.

  7. Too much regulation creates stagnation, not enough government creates too much inequality.

    Libertarians ultimately believe government needs to stay out of the way as much as possible, but make sure the game is still fair.

    A politician taking a bribe from corporation is not playing fair. A politician creating taxes that favor the rich is not playing fair. Corporations ruthlessly making profits without considering the effects on society writ large isn't playing fair.

    Equality of opportunity, not outcome. Even in the Marxist utopia, not every co-op will produce equal products to equal results.

    #Yang2020 #GoogleAndrewYang

  8. Capitalism’s problem is the market forces, it requires government control to hold things together. We’ve never had pure capitalism it’s always been state capitalism in one form or another as pure capitalism would begin to fail immediately. So, capitalism seeks state capitalism and bureaucracy under corporate control (this is why USSR was a state corporate bureaucracy; state capitalism; i.e. fascism) Creating one of the worst forms of tyranny.
    Libertarians (American version) think that by some magic without the government capitalism will work in the interests of the people when really their just anarcho-capitalists using libertarianism to attack others.
    Come back to the light my friends.

  9. Libertarians are wolfs in sheep skin, they are not about same principles as Progressive/Socialist/Communist people

    They love capitalism as they are sociopaths also, what they don't like is obeying law, paying taxes, etc

  10. Is Mr Wolff's take on socialism "democratize the work place" not libertarian socialism? Versus authoritarian socialism that has government taking over industry? Just trying to clarify?

  11. There it is. Wolff advocates big government. So many debates I’ve had with people here that claimed he wasn’t advocating government. What are you going to do with this obvious fact? Are you going to double down and become a shameless statist npc? Or are you going to finally see this guy wants to ram his ideas down everyone’s throat by threat of violent force? No longer can you say this guy has anything to do with anarchism. No longer can you even equate him with Marxist infantile idea of creating a totalitarian state that will magically dissolve into anarchism. This commie is after power, they all are. You can clearly hear it in his contemptuous voice that oozes resentment and jealousy. Who likes to be talked to like that? He’s talking down to you. All commies do this. Then he says govt prints and issues the money. The US govt hasn’t printed money since the federal reserve act of 1913. This guy is an economics professor for Christ’s sakes! He doesn’t even understand how the federal reserve operates. How can you take this angry man seriously anymore? He only understands marxists garbage that only appeals to naive idealistic teenagers that think reading 1200 pages of Marxist victim narratives makes them an intellectual or arrested developed adults battling a victim complex, pissed off at the world because they see others that have more. He peddles jealousy and lies for cash and power.

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