Understanding Socialism from a KPFA event on February 28, 2020, Economist Richard Wolff tackles the taboos and unveils the often hidden histories of socialism, but most importantly it offers a way forward: a socialism built on democracy in the workplace. A blend of history, analysis and opinion, Understanding Socialism is an honest and approachable text that knocks down false narratives, confronts failures, and offers a path to a new socialism based on workplace democracy.
Understanding Socialism not only explains what socialism is and has meant to various proponents, it also looks at the past transition from feudalism to capitalism as a model to help us visualize the next transition out of capitalism. Understanding Socialism explores how socialist theory was used and applied to shape the histories of countries like Russia and China principally, and many other countries in smaller but important ways. It analyzes the successes and defeats of those countries, the world’s reactions to them (anti-socialism and fascism), and how all of those factors offer important lessons for the building of a 21st century socialism.
“Richard Wolff’s book is the best accessible and reliable treatment we have of what socialism is, was, and should be. It is clear, concise, and compelling. In a time in which socialism is more popular than capitalism among the young, we now have a strong and powerful case for why socialism is what radical democracy looks like.” – Cornel West
Rick Wolff puts the social back in socialism by centering the people, the places and the passions that other economists strip out. In the same accessible style that has made his programs and lectures such a hit, he explains his subject in a way that’s not only smart, but makes the rest of us feel smart. It’s actionable intelligence for the every person. – Laura Flanders
There are few economists who are the equal of Richard Wolff, which he once again proves with his latest book. Lucid, brilliant and uncompromising in his dissection of the capitalist system he also provides a sane and just socialist alternative to capitalist exploitation, one we must all fight to achieve. – Chris Hedges
Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst where he taught economics from 1973 to 2008. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University, New York City. The graduate of Harvard, Stanford and Yale is the founder of the non-profit Democracy at Work, which produces media and live events that analyze capitalism critically as a systemic problem and advocates for democratizing workplaces as part of a systemic solution. He is the host of their most popular radio and TV show, Economic Update which has been broadcast since 2011.