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Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (City Lights Open Media) Paperback – May 8, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Richard Wolff and David Barsamian truly understand, at the deepest levels, both the need for political, social, and economic change in this nation, and the ways such change can happen. This is an essential read for everybody concerned with the future of the world, from academics to concerned citizens, it's also a brilliant and thoughtful manual that every activist must own."—Thom Hartmann, internationally syndicated radio/TV host, and author of The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight

"Occupy activists everywhere are heatedly debating the question, "What's next for our movement?' In his collected interviews with David Barsamian, radical economist Richard Wolff lays out a compelling framework for further anti-corporate organizing that focuses on the root of the problem: capitalism and its never-ending assault on the 99%. Occupiers (past, present, and future) now have an intellectual guide to a different kind of economy--one that's equitable, sustainable, and, let's hope, politically achievable, sooner rather than later. Wolff's deep but conversational synthesis of recent practice and older theory couldn't be more timely, persuasive, and readable. This book should be required reading for all labor and community organizers newly inspired by Occupy Wall Street!"—Steve Early, labor activist, journalist, and author of The Civil Wars in U.S. Labor

"We blame corrupt bankers, their industry, and the government who refused to properly regulate it for the financial crisis, but we need to look further back, to a time when the capitalist system itself shifted. Author David Barsamian devotes his entire book to interviews with renowned economist Richard Wolff, during which the two seek to understand the root causes of the current economic crisis, and what concerted efforts by individuals can do to bring about meaningful change."—SF Weekly

""Like the writings of Karl Marx himself, Wolff's Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism (2012, City Lights Books) gives a far more detailed analysis of the current systemic crisis than of how to build an alternative, democratic economy. The book does end, however, with a "Manifesto for Economic Democracy and Ecological Sanity," signed by seven activist intellectuals, which gives strong acknowledgment to the role of co-ops as training grounds for worker democracy. 'The change we propose... as a new and major addition to the agenda for social change,' says the Manifesto, '... is to occur inside production... the workers must become collectively their own bosses, their own board of directors...'"—Jewish Currents

""Wolff, a Marxist economist, gives a deeper analysis of capitalism, so that the 'mysteries' of wealth accumulation become clear in all their exploitative nature. By reading "Occupy the Economy," the reader will unknowingly receive an excellent introductory lesson into Marx's greatest literary achievement, “Capital.”—Smirking Chimp

About the Author

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics at U. Mass, and Visiting Professor at the New School University. Author of Capitalism Hits the Fan, he’s been a guest on NPR, Glenn Beck Show, and Democracy Now!

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Product Details

  • Series: City Lights Open Media
  • Paperback: 190 pages
  • Publisher: City Lights Publishers (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0872865673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0872865679
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.9 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #474,165 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 80 people found the following review helpful By P. Schumacher on May 9, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book of long interviews with Richard D. Wolff by David Barsamian.

The answers and discussions are long, but the book is short. Better yet, it is amazingly comprehensive and clear.

Wolff goes beyond Keynesianism--though he is perfectly familiar with it. He makes plain that FDR saved capitalism in the U.S. by (a) enacting legislation to rein in the unchecked destructiveness of capitalism, (b) enacting legislation to soften the hardships the Depression had wrought--Social Security and Unemployment Compensation, (c) forcing the 1% to pay for all this with tax hikes on wealth and corporations--he threatened the rich that if they didn't pay for this, the Unions, communists, and socialists (then very strong) would take it anyway and given them a much worse deal, and, most important, (d) direct government job-creation, since the "market" wasn't doing it.

He recommends the last two (c and d) again--only this time directing direct government hiring toward green energy, weatherizing homes and offices, daycare and eldercare. But he goes way beyond this.

Wolff says that it is in the nature of capitalists, since they are out to maximize profits at all costs, to fight tenaciously against any regulation or any softening of workers' plights. They have largely been successful in this, particularly in the last 30 years--lowering taxes markedly on the wealthy and on corporations, throwing out Glass-Steagall and other regulations, offshoring, union-busting, and so on--all of which have essentially brought us to the Great Recession we are in now.

To combat this, he says, we not only need direct government employment to re-start demand, but we need an entire change away from the capitalist structure of business.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Hans G. Despain on June 7, 2012
Format: Paperback
In this short and accessible volume Rick Wolff in conversation with David Barsamian provides the political economy trends behind the manifestation of the "Occupy movement." The U.S. economy is for millions of Americans both unjust and failing to provide positive socio-economic results. Instead, poverty, unemployment and financial insecurity are the reality for 100s of millions of American citizens.

This book has the potential to become the literary basis of the movement, or the movement's _Common Sense_. Thomas Paine's _Common Sense_ provided an accessible literary basis and the emotional courage to resist British economic injustice; Rick Wolff's _Occupy the Economy_ can provide an accessible literary basis to resist the financial/capitalist oligarchy that formed to usurp the fruits of the U.S. economy. I read today in Reuters.com, June 7 2012, that leftist social theorist and Harvard University Professor Theda Skocpol has declared the "movement over." But the nation's socio-economic maladies and citizen and worker hardships persist. With or without the Occupy movement this book is important, until the unemployment, poverty, inequality and injustices generated by the American corporate capitalistic economy are mended.

Just as Thomas Paine's _Common Sense_ offered an argument for emancipation from anti-democratic British colonialism, Rick Wolff's _Occupy the Economy_ offers an argument for the emancipation of anti-democratic financial/corporate American capitalism.

One of the main problems facing a more positive socio-political economic transformation from the economic crisis of 2008 is the underdeveloped and dismal level of economic literacy in U.S.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Robert S Bogner on June 13, 2012
Format: Paperback
"Occupy the Economy," by Richard Wolff and David Barsamian, is the most clear and concise book describing the current political and economic state of the US that I have seen to date. It is understandable for anyone who is interested enough to want to read it, and should be required reading for all US citizens, definitely for all economics students. But as they mention, the only economics our students are axposed to are those of the neo-libeeral, capitalist system we are now living with.

The authors use a method of pertinent questions and answers to show how the policies created by FDR countered the great depression (the New deal), and enabled the prosperity of the late forties to continue through the late sixties of LBJ. They describe how this fair, prosperous,and democratic economy was unraveled and turned into the unfair, depressed, neo-liberal plutacracy we are now living with. They explain how the the tax system of FDR contributed to the fairness of the system, and how the New Deal government job creation programs lifted the economy out of the "great depression. But most important of all, they show how it has been unraveled by the wealthiest of our citizens and how the US has become a plutocracy, rather than a deomcracy, that serves only the wealthy...and they (Wolff & Barsamian) accomplish all of this in a concise, easy to read manner!

Nevertheless, I have two small problems with the book. I feel that the authors put a little too much faith in the "occupy movement," and that they only minimally go into how we can correct the current sad state our economy is in; that is that we are living with a depressed, unfair, and unequal economic system which must be changed.
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