Economic Update

Working Class History and the 2020 Election

Sendung am 19.08.2019 19:00 bis 19:30


This special program discusses how the history of the US working class shaped US politics. We start with how and why the 1930s Great Depression married the US working class to FDR's Democratic Party (New Deal Coalition). We next show how and why after 1945, US business leaders and Republicans broke up that marriage to undo the New Deal. By re-building working class divisions - especially around race and gender - males and whites moved toward the GOP. A weakened Dem party responded by appealing to (and thereby dividing) business interests to support them. The two parties thus became almost identically pro-capitalist and both presided over growing inequalities in income, wealth and political power between the richest 10% and the working class. Building to 2016, working class disgust with both parties showed in disinterest, ambivalence, and the growing role of "cultural" differences in place of working class solidarity. It boiled over when an "outsider" (Trump) defeated first the Republican and then the Democratic establishment candidates, an expression of the working class's history since 1929. We end on the implications of this history for the 2020 election.  

Democracy at Work. For Economic Justice

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York. Wolff has also taught economics at Yale University, City University of New York, and the University of Paris I (Sorbonne).

Wolff has published many books and articles, both scholarly and popular. Most recently, in 2012, he published the books Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism (Haymarket Books) and Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian, with Stephen Resnick (Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT University Press). He writes regularly for

He has been interviewed on The Charlie Rose Show, Up With Chris Hayes, Bill Maher’s Real Time, RT-TV, Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now!, Al Jazeera English, Thom Hartman, National Public Radio, Alternative Radio, and many other radio and TV programs in the United States and abroad. The New York Times Magazine named him “America’s most prominent Marxist economist.”


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