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Richard Wolff

"Capitalism's Crisis and Class Consciousness Renewed"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

4 p.m., Franklin Patterson Hall, Main Lecture Hall

Today's capitalist crisis caps 30 years of divisive economic development in the United States. Real wages stagnated and are now roughly at the mid-1970s level. Over the same period, labor's productivity soared, yielding employers' record revenues and profits from 1980 to 2000. Income and wealth inequality returned to late 19th century levels. That divisive economic development generated the economic crisis. Now, the so-called "recovery" further deepens the inequalities and divisions. Crisis and recovery have provoked a return of the much-repressed consciousness of class, class divisions, and class struggles. In turn, renewed class consciousness now also shapes the unfolding crisis. To borrow the last line of Eric Schocket's Vanishing Moments, once again class consciousness expresses "our resilient desires to comprehend our misshapen existences and to struggle - collectively - to a postcapitalist future."

Richard Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He currently teaches in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York City. His major interests and publications lie in the fields of advanced class analysis with special application to the current global capitalist crisis and in the critical comparison of alternative economic theories (neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian). He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Rethinking Marxism and publishes regularly in both US journals and publications abroad. His work is gathered and available on his website:

He has co-authored many books with Stephen A. Resnick including Knowledge and Class: A Marxian Critique of Political Economy (University of Chicago Press, 1987), the textbook Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987), Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR (Routledge Publishers, 2002) and New Departures in Marxian Theory (Routledge Publishers, 2006). During 2009, he produced and was featured in the documentary film Capitalism Hits the Fan (Northampton, Media Education Foundation) as well as authored the book, Capitalism Hits the Fan: the Global economic Meltdown and What to Do About it (Northampton, Olive Branch Press).


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