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Occupy Harvard and beyond

from David Ruccio

Issue #2 of The Occupy Harvard Crimson is now out.

The issue includes a variety of short essays about the occupation, including a piece by Wayne M. Langley, of SEIU Local 615, on higher education and another by Richard Wolff, a Harvard alumnus, based on the talk he gave at the occupation on 18 November.

This is from Langley:

Over the last thirty years, the old social contract that emphasized the “public good” has been replaced with a neo-liberal, market-oriented “private-benefit” model of higher learning. The private-benefit model stresses that the individual student, not society, primarily benefits from advanced education — therefore the individual, not the public, should bear the lion’s share of the cost. . .

The time has come to fight for a new social contract between Americans and their institutions of higher education. It is time to win back support for a publicly funded, accessible, and outstanding educational system.

And here’s Wolff:

As the Occupy movement keeps developing, it seeks solutions for the economic and political dysfunctions it exposes and opposes. For many, the capitalist economic system itself is the basic problem. . .

Every enterprise should be democratized. Workers should occupy their enterprise by collectively functioning as its board of directors. That would abolish the capitalist exploitative system (employer versus employee) much as our historical predecessors abolished the parallel exploitative systems of slavery (master versus slave) and feudalism (lord versus serf). In workers’ self-directed enterprises, those who do the work also design and direct it and dispose of its profits: no exploitation of workers by others. Workers participate equally in making all enterprise decisions. The old capitalist elite – the major corporate shareholders and the boards of directors they choose – would no longer decide what, how and where to produce and how to use enterprise profits. Instead, workers – in partnership with residential communities interdependent with their enterprises – would make all those decisions democratically.

The students who are occupying Harvard and hundreds of other colleges and universities around the country are exploring two basic issues: how to restore the idea of the university and how to imagine and create appropriate substitutes for capitalism. Both are key issues within the larger, national and international, Occupy movement.

  1. Paul Davidson
    December 6, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    There is nothing wrong with capitalism as Keynes’s general theory explains except the inability of the system to perpetuate full employment and the arbitrary and inequitable distribution of income and wealth. Keynes’s analysis provides the principles for curing these two major faults of the capitalist system even in the 21 century’s open global economy — as I demostrate in 2009 book THE KEYNES SOLUTION:THE PATH TO GLOBAL ECONOMIC PROSPERITY.

    Winston Churchill once said “No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except for all other forms that have been tried from time to time”,

    . In a similar vein, Keynes’s analysis [which is not the analysis of Old Keynesians such as Samuelson, Solow and Tobin nor the analysis of New Keynesians such as Stiglitz, etc.] provides perscriptions for the very imperfect entreprenurial system we call capitalism, to achieve a basic civilized economic system.

    Paul Davidson

  2. December 6, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    There is indeed something wrong with capitalism. It is the ownership of the means of production by a separate class. Basically this means that money makes money whilst it is only labour (using capital on land) which creates wealth and which earns its return. Land and capital should be owned by those who need them – far more efficient.

  3. Dave Taylor
    December 7, 2011 at 5:51 am

    There is something else wrong with capitalism. It is premised on the lie that money is valuable, and thus equivalent to things of real value; but “the first commandment of logic is, ‘Thou shalt not mistake the appearance for the reality”. The love of money is the root of all evil, and Paul: Keynes recognised that in his comments on Gesell, who made money less attractive by taxing the holding of it. I’m as great a fan of Keynes as anyone, but hasn’t others’ love of money got the better of him?

    Even when tokens of it are printed as bank notes, money created “out of thin air” is, as some wag recently put it, not even as valuable as toilet paper, which is much better for wiping your bum.

    What would be valuable is a society of trustworthy people, who after purchasing goods with their monetary credit notes, kept the promise on them to recreate equivant real value in return.

  4. Alice
    December 7, 2011 at 9:49 am

    I dont even think you can call it capitalism when one half of the political arena in the US is convinced that only the uper echelon of the wealthiest are “job creators”. Thats a ridiculous and dangerous idea. Every person that manages to keep their home and keep paying the bills is a job creator and hires all sorts of people and buys all sorts of goods…

    So contrary to what that poor Bachman woman has deluded herself into thinking and is trying to delude others into thinking – the wealthy have no monpoly on job creation and dont deserve tax cuts that could and should be rightfully given (if at all) to the middle and lower classes just now.

    Now when one third of all home sales in the US are distressed sales. Bachman has it all hopelessly wrong and Obama is right to blame the poor policies on republicans. (they are poor policies in every literal sense of the word).

  5. katherine
    December 7, 2011 at 6:27 pm

    It seems surprise to me who actually goes to Harvard, don’t they belong to top 1%?

  6. December 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    I don´t want to brag, but what Richard Wolff is expressing are basically the tenets of Market Socialism, an economic system supported by David Schweickart (“Economic Democracy”) and other intellectuals, whose basics can be read in my (short) blog:

    http://marketsocialism-economicdemocracy.blogspot.com/

    For more information about non-utopian alternative economic systems based on the economics of the real world, refer to the work of David Schweickart, Panu Kalmi (reviewer), Michael Albert, Bruno Jossa, and many others. Also read the Wikipedia entries for Economic Democracy and for Market Socialism.

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