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Richard Wolff and Dr. Amy S. Cramer on teaching economics

CRAMER: We all know we live in a world of
extreme partisan hostility; extreme, hateful negativity. And it’s keeping us
from generating the kind of brilliant ideas that we need in order to create
prosperity for all of us. And that’s [VOTE’s] goal. Its goal is to spark new
ideas. And we do it in the following way. Initially, we teach people from
all walks of life to hear the great economic thinkers of our past and how
they are echoed in today’s debates. And now what we do is we line up the
conservative, liberal, and radical perspectives side by side in a
completely unbiased way. And what happens as a result of that is number one
(Well, using role plays and other activities), what happens is that people
become fluent in each point of view. And that combative debate that we
live in becomes solution-focused conversation and we set the foundation
for, you know, the payoff: for new ideas to emerge. And that’s what the VOTE program
is all about.
WOLFF: So instead of trying to solve the problem from within the cocoon
of only one, you’re trying to say there are tools that all of them offer, if you give
them a benefit of the doubt, if you separate the partisan politics a little
bit from the core ideas that are useful, people will have a broader toolbox.
It’s an old idea of education, really, that you brought into economics.
CARMER: Yeah, it’s it’s to recognize the beauty and the poetry of each of our great thinkers.
If you consider the work of Adam Smith, or the work of Karl Marx, or the work of
John Maynard Keynes (who really are the basis of the fights that we’re having
today) and you consider how poetic, and how insightful their contributions were,
we don’t want to lose that in our in our in our siloed thinking, in our echo
chambers. Because, we will be a great peril to ignore any of them because
then we’re going to end up stuck, as we are as a nation, and we’re going to end
up reinventing the wheel over and over. And what we’re looking to do is actually use their
brilliance to to spark new ideas. That is the whole idea behind what what we’re
doing. And it’s through a culture, building a new culture, of respectful
listening, passionate advocacy, and intelligent debate. That’s that’s how we
do it. And it’s kind of even funny that it’s revolutionary.
It seems like, isn’t that how society should be? But unfortunately that’s just
not where we are and it’s actually getting worse. There’s a recent study
that showed that 36% of voters think that the world would be better off if
large percentages of their opponents were dead. 20% thought that
their opponents are aren’t human, they’re more like animals. We are in
a state of extreme partisanship and we have a pathway forward. We have a pathway
to to envision a new future of prosperity, and that’s what
we’re offering, and we’re offering it for free.

Reynold King

7 Replies to “Richard Wolff and Dr. Amy S. Cramer on teaching economics”

  1. What happens is that by the time youngsters can think like this, every economics class they have taken has bored them to tears. I myself had to tie myself to the desk to keep from jumping out the window. No wonder we shun it. Maybe a more creative approach, earlier on would help.

  2. Two questions for Professor Richard Wolff

    Dear Professor Wolff

    First of all, I would like to warmly greet you, and the entire Democracy at Work team, for your work in promoting Marxism. I’d especially like to single out David Harvey about his lectures on Marx Capital.

    My name is Michał Nowicki, although on the Internet I am known rather as Camarade Michael and I am the author of the Rebirth of Communism YT channel. I've been watching films with your participation for about a year now, and we've even translated some of the films to Polish. I also quite often refer to your lectures in my videos. Thanks to mine and my comrades’ publicity, you have slowly become a person well-known in Poland both among people with leftist views and among anti-communists.

    Just like you, I am a Marxist, although we share different views as to Marx's famous eleventh thesis on Feuerbach. We Polish communists describe ourselves as continuators of the Bolshevik tradition and our model is rather Lenin and the October Revolution than Roosevelt and New Deal.

    Our social status in the capitalist system is also different. I am a worker and have to admit that a scientific career for Marxists is simply impossible in an anti-communist country such as Poland.

    I have two questions for you about my country – Poland.

    The first question concerns Polish capitalism. Recently we celebrated in Poland the 100th anniversary of Poland regaining independence. We divide this 100-year period into 50 years of capitalism (1918-1939) (1989-2019) and 45 years of socialism, plus of course World War II.

    Why is Polish capitalism so backward/retarded? We can observe the same atrocities/defects both before the war and after 1989. Mass unemployment, starving children, problems with access to housing and much more. With all my criticism towards capitalism, I must admit that it was in some ways an innovative system in the US or Western Europe. For example, in the welfare state era an average American worker could afford a decent life.

    In capitalist Poland, a worker’s life is always miserable. In capitalist Poland there is no innovation, no ideas we’d call here literally a ‘Polish technical thought’. In capitalist Poland, Polish car factories were even being massively closed. Both before the war and after 1989, Polish capitalism is completely dependent on Western countries and our role is reduced to the one of assembly workers.

    In short, the capitalist system is a curse for Poles, and I am all the more surprised by the fact that many Poles love this system so much. Me and my comrades, we believe that in the capitalist system Poland will always be a third category country, there will always be misery in us and I am not even able to understand how this system can be supported in Poland.

    The second question will be much shorter. Why did many Westerners, including American Marxists, support counter-revolutionary forces in Poland, led by Lech Walesa, whose goal was to restore capitalism?

    Thank you in advance for your answer, which we will definitely translate to Polish. I hope that one day you will visit our country, where we will organize a debate with some Polish equivalent of the anti-communist freak like Jordan Peterson.

    Communist Greetings

    Michał Nowicki

  3. A nice idea if you can achieve it, however people tend to identify with their opinion/beliefs and they usually internalize them as a bias that they themselves don't even recognize. It takes a system of tools to really allow one to be objective towards and idea that is different than ones own. As for being creative and coming up with new ideas… well that is even more rare, I am not sure it can even be taught. How many creative original thinkers are there in any field of human study at a given time?

  4. I love that she's empowered about the problems she's describing, she's not disheartened but inspired… Such a shining example of a true leader and great teacher. Thank you ✊✊✊✌🔥

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