About

Marxism Today is a podcast which provides:

  • Lessons on Marxist analysis and theory
  • Marxist critique of current events
  • Marxist critique of culture
  • Clarification on common misconceptions about Marxism.

The goal of this podcast is to introduce you to an understanding of Marxism so that if you choose you can use these theories to understand the world around you.

18 Responses to About

  1. EveBee says:

    Hey Red,
    I really enjoy your podcasts/videos! I have a question about primitive accumulation and the role it plays in modern capitalist society. I work in the non-profit sector where gentrification is a daily battle while homelessness runs rampant. So, I guess I’d like to know more about private property (which you have recently touched on) and the different faces of primitive accumulation.

  2. Gov't™ says:

    Hey Red,
    Are you by chance associated with Circle Pines Center? Heard Big Bill on one of your podcasts and just had to wonder.

  3. Nope, I don’t have any association with the Circle Pines Center. Bill Barclay hasn’t been on the podcast, but he has left a comment here. It’s pretty likely I’ll see him speak sometime in 2013 – I’ve heard there’s a chance he’ll be giving a talk nearby, and I’m excited for that. I’ve heard good things.

  4. Colby Keller says:

    Love your podcast. Can I be a guest when I come to Minnesota for my nationwide art project?

  5. Sheldon says:

    So I have to ask. Are you all affiliated with any formal organization or tendency?

    • Hi Sheldon,

      Tony and I are members of the Democratic Socialists of America (which includes religious socialists, Marxists, and utopian socialists). Of course, our podcast is not a representation of the DSA as a whole – it’s just a representation of me and Tony (and sometimes Thad).

  6. Mike says:

    Hi Red, Tony, Thad. I’ve been enjoying the podcast for months now, keep up the good work; this is my favorite cast. I’m learning a lot about socialism and its various ideological branches from you guys. Before listening to your podcast, my impression of socialism was that “ideal” socialism is a great idea but, Americans are afraid of it because they think the ideals of socialism are inherently un-American (and that potato chips and beer would suddenly disappear..????) I’ve heard you touch on this issue a few times recently…that is, our brain washed mental models which confirm capitalism as if it were a piece of our bodies. I believe the fact is, most Americans would actually support socialism if they understood it.. then seen in its popular support, Americans would find socialism to be extremely American…American does not equal capitalism…the bigger question for me is, do Americans have any fight left in them? Or will we continue to let fear and apathy cripple us while the globe heats and nuclear warheads multiply?
    The economics of socialism is probably the most difficult aspect for people of a capitalist economy to wrap their heads around…(perhaps there would be more activism if this were clear) especially when capitalism is so, as you say, “self-asserting”…my mind has also lost some creativity due to the infection. To that point, I’m curious; while I can imagine “workers owning the means of production”…how do we get from point capitalism to point socialism (the big question, right?)?
    TOPIC IDEA:
    I’ve been reading a lot of controversy on the raise of minimum wage recently…there seems to be a catch22:
    Small business owners must pay a hefty sum to hire an employee (just like larger corps). When the minimum wage rises, I’m happy for the higher wages for working class people and at the same time, some decent small business folk can’t afford to hire people anymore and it forces them out of business….is going out of business the price they pay for playing capitalist venture? Will these “Mom and Pop’s” suddenly feel sympathetic (so they may believe) for the right wing agenda of lowering the cost of labor (Fox news is working hard for that sympathy, so I saw)? Is there really no way to make a living without screwing someone else out of theirs? ….or is that an intrinsic attribute of capitalism? Should I feel bad for these people for trying to hold on to a good local business by paying people junky wages? (#solvingissuesofeconomicinequalitywithinacapitalistframework #foodstamps?? #remindsmeofsocialism…in a way)
    I remember letting my employee go when I couldn’t afford to pay her well anymore…I had to quit too. I wasn’t mad at myself though, I was working 60 – 80 hours a week. The realities of poverty and running a small acreage farming operation in capitalist America left a bitter taste in my mouth. Was I prepared to hire immigrants for $5/hr, …what…for? What are we doing here?

    • Hi Mike,

      Thanks for the well-thought-out comments. I agree that Americans would really find socialism appealing if they gave it a chance, and I have no doubt that a generation or two after implementing some kind of socialism in the US, it would be seen as “inherently American”.

      Also, thanks for the topic suggestion. I’d really like to have an episode about the minimum wage. Your comment brings in the question of small businesses, which is another really interesting topic that I’d love to include sometime.

  7. MDA says:

    Listen in the UK and really love your podcasts. Thought you sounded like two surfy boys until I heard you were from Wisconsin! You discuss many interesting ideas and I have learnt a lot. Well done chaps!

  8. Hi guys!

    First I just want to say I love your podcast, its refreshing to hear someone who has the same ideas as me expressing them in such a clear, humorous and understanding way. I am just about to graduate from university in the UK after studying criminology, which opened up my eyes to the application of the ideology of Marxism to crime. My final thesis was a Marxist critique of the global financial crisis of 2008, explaining the clear criminal motives of the upper class in Wall St; clearly designed to repress the power of the proletariat. I would really like it if I could send a copy to you guys to have a read, as I think an episode on the financial crisis would be an eye opener and I don’t believe you have done one before (I may be wrong). Anyway, please get back to me if this would interest you!

    Keep up the great work,
    Will 🙂

    • We would be very interested in reading your thesis. You can send it to me at schmittaj@gmail.com and since this is a public forum, I’ll specify that anyone is welcome to email me, but if it’s a discussion it’s nicer to have them on here or Twitter or reddit, that way all can participate.

      – Tony

  9. James says:

    You mentioned reading some Nietzsche in the last episode. He didn’t write much on economics directly. There is debate on his influence on modern economics (http://www.thenation.com/article/nietzsches-marginal-children-friedrich-hayek/https://www.dissentmagazine.org/blog/nietzsches-neoliberalism-a-response-to-corey-robinhttp://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2013/05/on-robins-tenuous-connection-between-nietzsche-and-hayek/). Walter Kaufmann’s The Portable Nietzsche is a good introduction to Nietzsche’s overall philosophy (http://evankozierachi.com/uploads/Portable_Nietzsche__The_-_Friedrich_Nietzsche___Walter_Kaufmann.pdf).

  10. Adrien Carlson says:

    Hi red and tony, I’m new into the whole Marxism and socialism political spectrum do you recommend any books or articles to learn more about it?
    Also, any advice on how to get a podcast going?

    • Hey Adrien,

      My recommendation would depend on how head first you want to jump in. The Communist Manifesto if a good place to start, short and gives an pretty decent overview of things. If you really want to dive straight down (and you have more of a penchant for the economic side of things) I would recommend Capital Vol. 1, and watch David Harvey’s Reading Marx’s Capital (http://davidharvey.org/reading-capital/) along with it. I realize that’s a pretty wide range for books. For articles I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, but Jacobin (https://www.jacobinmag.com/) is a great magazine that has really great Socialist analysis on a huge range of topics. Something I also find very helpful for myself is videos and podcast. For podcasts aside from ours, two that I like a lot and come at stuff from different angles are Tom O’Brien’s From Alpha to Omega (http://fromalpha2omega.podomatic.com/) podcast (it’s more economics orientated with lots of great experts as guests), and Doug Lain’s Zero Squared (http://dietsoap.podomatic.com/) podcast (formally Diet Soap, this one comes at things from the philosophical side). If you’re looking for some videos, YouTube had the wonderful Kapitalism 101 (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOVUyXd-d5P-hznNF9zJQ-g) by Brendan Cooney, it does a really good job articulating and explaining a lot of different concepts of Marx’s. A few places that are great as resources to look at too: The Marxist Internet Archive (https://www.marxists.org/), you can find a huge amount of texts from a large number or Marxists throughout history; If you’re into audio books LibriVox (http://librivox.org/) has a couple free ones by Marx and Engels; the Online University of the Left (http://ouleft.sp-mesolite.tilted.net/) run by Carl Davidson has a lot of great resources covering all different disciplines and if definitely worth looking at.
      As far as doing a podcast goes, I can really only speak to how we do this one. We do a free blog on WordPress (https://wordpress.com/), we have all of our audio hosted by the Internet Archive (https://archive.org/) (which is also free if you have something that is public domain or creative commons like us), we run all out sound though an old soundboard that Red has and into a laptop, and record it on there with Audacity (http://audacityteam.org/) (also free). Audacity is also what we use for editing. Then the last thing we do after they’re edited is run it though The Levelator (http://web.archive.org/web/20130729204551id_/http://www.conversationsnetwork.org/levelator/) it levels out all of the sound (it can muck with music or effects sometimes, but I’m really quiet and Red is not so we very much need this for balance, plus it makes it all a good audio level so it can be easily listened to with just some earbuds. And you could do all of that in Audacity, but Levelator is just drag and drop, so it saves us time in editing). If you do put together a podcast, let us know, either email me (schmittaj@gmail.com), or post here, or tweet us or something. We’d love to hear it!

      -Tony

  11. This podcast is amazing! hahaha
    I was looking for a podcast to training my english listening once I’m brazilian. it was hard to find a worthwhile and not-boring podcast.

  12. jim drysdale says:

    From: jim drysdale
    http://www.capitalismnofuture.co.uk (incl: ‘Marx: Capitalism No Future’ UK©CS)

    Information either makes sense or it doesn’t. ‘Marx: Capitalism No Future’ is information.

    Dear Marxism Today,

    Capitalism’s crisis deepens:

    Marx is in demand. ‘Capital’, although rewarding, can be laborious.
    The more accessible ‘Marx: Capitalism No Future’ makes use of Marxist categories, their use effortlessly bringing the reader to awareness of the essence of change in capitalist society. Daily, we are offered statistics to explain change. Never are we told the source, the nature, of change in society. Marx scientifically (dialectically) reveals that it is the movement of the categories that bring change, change that ensures that capital, capitalism, capitalist society are not eternal. That is, the very activity of capital’s own laws of motion are the source of the decline of capital. And, as daily existence is revealing to all, the global economy continues to move from crisis to ever deepening crisis.

    ‘With the change of the economic foundation the entire immense superstructure is more or less rapidly transformed. In considering such transformations a distinction should always be made between the material transformation of the economic conditions of production, which can be determined with the precision of natural science, and the legal, political, religious, aesthetic or philosophic – in short, ideological forms in which men become conscious of this conflict and fight it out.’ (Preface to Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. Karl Marx)

    Marx shows that change in economic conditions, i.e., the decline of capital, although primary, should, however, not be seen as the only historical drive as the social relations of production evolve. That is, the subjective factor must also play its part.

    ‘Marx: Capitalism No Future’
    contents, headings and a few extracts:

    contents

    Page 2 – 39 The essence of capitalist society

    Page 41 – 54 Change in capitalist society

    Page 55 – 65 Media comment

    Page 66 The Injuries of Profit

    The following offers an explanation of our society, capitalist society. Capitalist society is a class society. When we’re at work we labour. Capitalist society is a mass producing mass consuming of commodities society. Commodities, things, include all machines and technology.
    In order that we gain understanding of capitalist society that goes beyond appearance, we have to investigate the following categories:

    The Commodity.
    Useful labour.
    Exchange value.
    Abstract labour. (*)
    Labour power (*)
    Money.
    Wage.
    Profit.

    The Commodity

    use value
    exchange value

    The source of value

    abstract labour: (*)
    socially necessary labour time

    Evolution of the money form of value

    simple or accidental form of value
    the Relative form of value
    The Equivalent form of value
    The Expanded form of value
    the General form of value
    the Money form of value
    Money as measure
    Money as medium of circulation
    the simple form of commodity circulation, C – M – C
    M – C – M, money becomes capital

    We have, then, arrived, after the long evolution of value and money and capital at….

    CAPITALIST SOCIETY

    THE LABOUR PROCESS

    Constant capital
    Variable capital
    Wage, the exchange value of commodified labour power
    the preservation of existing value as new value is added
    The production of value and the creation of surplus value in the production process
    Employment of labour power within the production process
    Surplus labour time, the foundation for the creation of surplus value
    The realisation of surplus value through exchange

    Given that the two-fold nature of labour in capitalist society is reflected in the production process that both produces a use value and exchange value. Given that commodities are exchanged at their equivalent, at their socially necessary labour time, the determinate of exchange value. Given, therefore, that the exchange value of commodified labour power, wage, is an exchange of equivalents. Given that labour power as variable capital acts on constant capital in the production of value and the creation of surplus value. Given that surplus labour time, the exploitation of the worker, produces surplus product giving the potential, at sale, for the realisation of surplus value. Given that surplus value, the social surplus of capitalist society, is the source of the bosses’ profit.
    Given all of this we see why profit is not rip-off, not buying cheap and selling dear, not greed and not a conspiracy.

    The Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall

    Having scientifically revealed what profit is and how profit is created, we end our brief look at the essence of capitalist society.

    Page 41 – 54 Change in capitalist society

    Equipped with our understanding of the two-fold nature of labour, use value, exchange value, (socially necessary labour time), capital, constant capital, variable capital, the productivity of labour, the rate of surplus value and the rate of profit, we make general observation, below, on the movement of these categories, the movement that creates change in capitalist society.

    Almost daily, we are told to expect change. We are also told there is no alternative to the status quo, capitalist society, bourgeois society. We are offered statistics to explain change, change only for capital accumulation. Never are we told the source of change in society.

    The capitalist relations of production are, for Marx, the last antagonistic form in the process of the development of humanity’s forces of production. Antagonism in capitalist society arises not from individuals but from the social relations of production themselves.

    The tendency for capital to undermine itself

    Class struggle, the universal class as the agent of change

    That is, for Marx, labour, in its evolving social forms, continues, dialectically, to evolve into a higher historical social form of development. That is, labour, as an historical subject, supersedes abstract labour, the specific social form that labour takes in capitalist society, evolving into an association of free producers, i.e. labour becomes concrete labour, labour conscious of its own activity.

    end of brief observations on change

    Page 55 – 65 Media comment

    Media Comment
    (a few)

    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/08/23/why-are-on-brink-greatest-depression-all-time/
    FOX NEWS (extract)
    OPINION
    By Wayne Allyn Root Published August 23, 2012 FoxNews.com
    Why we are on the brink of the greatest Depression of all time
    Everywhere from FoxNews.com to CNBC.com, I suddenly see commentators warning of pending doom, economic collapse, and a new Great Depression.
    […]
    This time the results are going to be dramatically worse than 1929. This time we are facing The Greatest Depression ever.
    Why? Because The Great Depression had NONE of the structural, economic, and social problems, nor the massive obligations we are now facing. Read the facts:
    In 1929 America was not $16 trillion in debt, plus facing over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities. That’s over $360,000 in debt per citizen.
    […] (end of extract)

    Financial Times 24th. September 2002. (extract)
    ‘Poor profitability persists for years after companies make profit warnings, according to new research by the Bank of England.
    The Bank’s research found that between 1997 and 2001, operating profit margins fell for 77 per cent of UK companies issuing a warning. In the year of the warning, their operating profit margin deteriorated by 21 per cent, compared with a control group of companies not forced to issue a warning. The poor profitability then persists. Two years after a warning, 80a per cent of companies’ operating profit margins were still below the level before the warning. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of non-warning companies had lower profit margins.
    Four years after a warning, more than 60 per cent of companies had not recovered to previous profitability levels, and the gap between them and non-warning groups was rising.’
    (end of extract)

    http://www.economist.com/node/18527446
    The
    Economist (extract)
    Capitalism’s waning popularity
    Market of ideas
    A global poll shows an ideology in apparent decline
    Apr 7th 2011 |
    RISING debt and lost output are the common measures of the cost of the financial crisis. But a new global opinion poll shows another, perhaps more serious form of damage: falling public support for capitalism. This is most marked in the country that used to epitomise free enterprise. In 2002, 80% of Americans agreed that the world’s best bet was the free-market system. By 2010 that support had fallen to 59%, only a little above the 54% average for the 25 countries polled.
    (end of extract)

    Within ‘Marx: Capitalism No Future’:

    The reader discovers that the rate of profit is the motive power of capitalist production. That is, the reader discovers that the bosses only produce commodities so long as they can be sold at an acceptable rate of profit.

    The reader discovers, scientifically, that profit in capitalist society is not rip-off, not buying cheap and selling dear, not greed and not a conspiracy.
    That is, the reader discovers that it is the specific form in which unpaid surplus labour is pumped out of the direct producers in the production process in capitalist society that determines the relations of domination and servitude.

    The reader discovers that as capital’s own self-measure is profit, it is noted that, from the bosses’ point of view an economy is measured by how well or not profit is growing. And, as daily existence is rapidly revealing to all, the global economy continues to move from crisis to ever deepening crisis.

    jim drysdale

  13. Hello red
    I would like to know how the whole guest thing works such as who can come on and so on.

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