Mohammed Hijab – Capitalism, Marxism and Islamic Economics with Prof Richard D. Wolff (MH Podcast #11)

Mohammed Hijab
AI: Summary © The speakers emphasize the need for individuals and families to join political parties to prevent the pandemic from happening and a democratic transformation of the enterprise structure. They also discuss the importance of a stable society and the "medicals and the people" movement, as well as the use of "monarchs" in relation to "monarchs" and "monarchs" meaning. They stress the importance of theory and a unified understanding of society, as well as the potential for justice and justice deserved.
AI: Transcript ©
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Hello, and welcome to the 11th episode of The mph podcast. I'm joined with an esteemed guest. He is Dr. Richard or professor richard wolf, who's a professor of economics emeritus at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a visiting professor in a graduate program in international affairs of the new school, university, New York City. He is the founder of democracy, Democracy at Work, and the host of the national nationally syndicated show economics, economic update. His latest book is the sickness is the system when capitalism fails to save us from pandemics

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itself. And it's available along with other books on the link, which will be providing on the bottom of the of the of the bio, sorry, in the comments section below. Hiring professor, thank you for inviting me and I'm fine.

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Tell us Professor how you got into

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you know, this, go into economics in the first place. What What made you interested in this field?

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Well, it's a it's actually an interesting story. I went to college.

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Here in the United States where I was born, intending to be

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a natural scientist, I don't know physicists, chemists, that's what my parents wanted me to be. And in my first year, I took a course in economics because I was always interested in how the economy worked.

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Excuse me.

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And I went to this economics course and hoping to learn about how economies work, and so forth. And the sad result was I was treated to a group of economics equations that didn't make much sense to me or to the other students. Everything was discussed in terms of what explains prices. I didn't take a course in economics to understand why prices are what they are, I wanted to understand the big questions. Why are some countries rich and others poor? Why is their wealth on one side of the town and poverty on the other, living in New York City area, I knew that story really well, from personal experience, etc, etc. But economics had nothing to say to me. So I majored in history. And I

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finished my program studying history. And the more I studied history, the more I recognized that it was the economy that shaped so much of what happened in history, that I kind of had to bite my tongue, then go back and learn the economics. So I went to graduate school in economics. And it was always a contest that what I was taught was not what I wanted to learn. What I was taught was mostly why the system we're living in capitalism, although it was taboo to call it that at the time.

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The our professors were professors of the Cold War here in the United States, were anything that sounded look, or had any vague resemblance to anything socialist Marxist or anything like that was so taboo, that even words like capitalism, were not supposed to be used. And so I was always in a in a kind of struggle with my professors. And what that did is shaped me and shaped me because I had to learn to be able to argue with them to be able to defend my critical perspective on what I was learning. And I found a few other students like myself. And we began what I did throughout my career, studying on my own with a student or two or three with me, who had similar interests. And

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then, in a sense, I had two parallel tracks, the official, appropriate economics, mainstream economics, micro economics, macro, all of that I had to learn.

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on my own. I learned to my great delight, that there was a vast literature which I could access in the library of people who were critical of capitalism, so that I could get in my classes, all of the arguments for capitalism. And then as I went to the library with my friends, we could also read and think about a critical perspective, which was totally absent. And let me stress that which may interest your your audience. I went to the what are usually considered the foremost universities in the United States. I was an undergraduate at a place called Harvard. I then went to graduate school for a while at Stanford, and Cal

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fornia and I finished and got my PhD in Economics at Yale University. So unlike a poster boy for elite education here in the United States, I spent 10 years of my life in the undergraduate and graduate learning program, 10 continuous years. That's 20 semesters, two semesters per year. During that time, in 19, out of the 20 semesters, I was not assigned to read one word, critical of capitalism. 19 of those semesters were studies in celebrating how efficient capitalism was, how beautifully organized, how equitable. I kid you not, even though we live in a society, where a difference of income and wealth and power were obvious, we were constantly told, no, no, no, this is

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the best system the human mind has been able to develop. In one semester, one professor in Stanford, California, did give us a little bit of a critical perspective. And I was grateful to him for doing that. But it gives you an idea of how lopsided it was. And and I hasten to add, my teachers were good teachers, it wasn't that they were terrified. It was a disaster for them personally, their careers would be badly affected, if they were knowledgable about if they talked about even if they weren't supportive of a critical perspective, the very decision to put such things on a reading list would make others suspicious, question them, it was really a time even in the best universities have

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a intellectual conformity that is now hampering here, the United States any reasonable ability to deal with the crisis that we face, because nobody was trained to think about to analyze when capitalism breaks down, which it is now doing? So Tell, tell us about this diagnostic this critical perspective? What exactly of the system here

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needs to be outlined as fate failure? Or what exactly did you see was going wrong with capitalism such that you develop this critical perspective in the first place? Good. Let me go back with Jim time. Let me mention the two big failures that are now rapidly and I mean, that and more show that at any point in my life, and you can see from my hair, that I'm not a young man, I've been here a long time aboard in the United States, I've lived all my life in the United States, I can assure you that the criticism, the critical attitude towards capitalism is greater right now, as I'm speaking to you in the United States, then at any point in the history of this country, as so far as I have

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lived here. It's extraordinary. And the two things that are right now fueling this criticism are the failure, the failure to anticipate, or to prepare for, or to manage the economic crash of capitalism, which begins in February of this year. Extraordinary producing 10s of millions of unemployed people at this moment, over 60 million, that's a third of our labor force has had to apply for unemployment compensation at some point over the last eight or nine months, with millions of them unemployed for the whole period of time. But that is spectacular as a crisis. It makes this system as as poorly functioning as the last time something like this happened, which was the Great

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Depression of the 1930s. The second thing right now, shaping anti capitalism is the failure of the United States is kind of capitalism to prepare for or to manage the covid 19 pandemic, we've just crossed 300,000 dead Americans. To give you a perspective, this pandemic, in less than a year, has killed more people than Americans died in World War Two. In other words, this crisis of public health is a more devastating impact on this country than any war. It has fought. Since the Civil War, which was an

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tene 60 To give you an idea, but even before the crisis of today of this year,

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there were two things about capitalism, at least here in the United States, that began to develop a critical moat movement and momentum. And it's very easy to describe the first one, and probably the most important is inequality. In other words, the gap the difference between the richest at the top and the mass of people,

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the United States, you need to see it historically celebrated,

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that in the 20th century, at least in the 20th century, after the Great Depression, there was a compression of inequality.

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To give you an example, extreme inequality in the 1920s. But with the crash in 1929, in the 1930s, there was a massive movement from below, the Congress of industrial organizations was the greatest unionization movement in American history, in the 1930s, roughly from 1932 to 1938, roughly more people joined labor unions in America than had ever done it before. And more joined than I've ever done it since it is the high point of millions of Americans who had never been in a labor union before deciding that with the collapse of capitalism in the 1930s, their best chance as individuals and families, as regions as communities, was to join labor unions was fantastic. At the same time,

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there were even more radicalized people who joined two different socialist parties, and the Communist Party, and the two socialist parties and the Communist Party. And the CIO, the labor movement all worked together. And they went to the President of the United States at that time, Franklin Roosevelt by name. And they said to him, by the way, a centrist democrat rather like Joseph Biden, in terms of his politics.

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And they went to him and they basically said to him, straightforward story. We represent 30 40 million people, we have organized them into unions into political parties. And we're telling you, Mr. President, very politely, we're telling you, you have to help the mass of people in this country, get through this crash of capitalism. If you do, we will make you a hero. And if you don't, we will throw you out of office. And Mr. Roosevelt was a smart politician. He understood that this coalition was called in those days, the New Deal coalition and the United States, Union socialists and communists could deliver on their threat, it was not an empty threat. And so he said to them,

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okay, we'll make a deal. I will do for you, and the mass of people, what has never been done by a president in this country. But in return, I don't want to hear any more about revolution, socialism, none of that. That's the deal. And that deal was accepted. And over the next few years, the middle of the 1930s, here's what was done. And remember, it's a crisis with millions of unemployed, the government is bankrupt because the unemployed don't pay taxes, businesses have collapsed. In the midst of all of that, the government created Social Security, a pension program for every American, when you reach age 65, the government gives you a check every month for the rest of your life that

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was created in the middle of the depression. Number two, the first unemployment compensation system at the federal level if you lose your job, and by the way, at that time, there were 10s of millions without work. If you lose your job, the government will give you a check for one half year or more, simply because you are unemployed every week. Number three, the first minimum wage so that employers could not pay below a living wage that would allow people to have a minimum decent life. And number four, a federal jobs program. And here's what the President said, if the private capitalist sector either cannot or will not employ millions of Americans who only ask for a job then I am

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President said, Roosevelt, I will add between 1934 and 1940, the federal government hired 15 million unemployed people and gave them a decent wage. And if you ask as you should, where did the money come to pay for all of this? Here's the answer.

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Roosevelt, the democratic party in power, tax corporations, and the rich heavily, and also required loads from them to the government to pay for all of this. So let me underscore it, because in every part of the world, this needs to be understood. In the 1930s, a massive program to help the poor to help the middle class survive and grow, have jobs, have incomes, keep their homes, all of it was done by the President was paid for by the corporations and the rich, they weren't happy about it. But they had to do it. And the reward that Mr. Roosevelt God was he was reelected three times. No other president in history of this country ever achieved that? Not before Mr. Roosevelt, man, not

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since. Wow, the lesson here is a politician who does for the mass of people more than any other president is also the most popular president this country had. And that is part of the consciousness, even if you don't hear that story told, well, what this did was for the rest of the 20th century make American capitalism, US capitalism, much less unequal than, for example, British or French, or German, or Italian capitalism. And the capitalists tried to make something good out of what was forced on them. So we began to celebrate when I went to school, isn't capitalism, wonderful? Because we have a vast middle class. Yeah, the irony is the vast middle class was created

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by labor unions, socialists and communists in the middle of the Great Depression. It wasn't the gift of capitalism, it was forced on capitalists from below. But nonetheless, that was the ideology. Capitalism makes us all wealthy, or at least middle class, comfortable, our own home, our own automobile, all of that. And when you do that in a society, and you do it for decades, as we did, roughly from the 1940s, right to the President, if then you change that, if suddenly you take away from the middle of class, what they won in the 1930s, when you recreate the pre 1929 inequality of the United States, which is what we've done in the last 25 years, you'll produce rage, anger,

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bitterness, as the mass of people find themselves further and further behind the mythology, the so called American dream of everybody having a kind of middle class life. That's not true for the mass of people. And then what here and then watching that situation get worse and worse, worse for them worse, even for the prospects for their children. And that's that inequality in our history, is making people question the whole system in a way, as I said, I have never seen before. The second and there's only two, the second quality of capitalism, that is now working together with this inequality, to provoke system criticism,

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is what I would call instability. Wherever capitalism has settled for the last 300 years, all over the world, you have an economic downturn, on average, every four to seven years.

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That's an average. So sometimes it takes longer, sometimes it takes less, but on average for every four to seven years, here's what happens. Suddenly, sizable numbers of people lose their jobs. their skills haven't gone away. The importance of what they do, hasn't gone away. The needs of the Society for labor and its products hasn't gone away, but your job went away and with it, your income businesses have to cut back

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They go out of business, we have many words, because this is so common recession, depression, bus crisis, downturn collapse, crash, I mean lots of words, because it is so ever present, it means that your lifetime, you and I being normally whatever it is 50 to 80 years, we're going to experience quite a few of these, which are going to interrupt our families, our relationships, our education, our jobs, our regional locations, it's extremely disruptive, especially when the downturns are deep and long lasting, which the 1930s was, and which today's is you put together the instability of this system, and the inequality it is generating. And you have two fundamental flaws of a system that

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make people ask the logical question, if this system is so unstable, and produces such inequality, if on top of it, it is incapable of handling the preservation of public health in the face of a virus, yeah, well, then why don't we consider another system? I think that's a good question. And I think a lot of people will will agree with large parts of your diagnostic there.

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I mean, here's what I've understood, from what you've said, You've obviously used the example of the you know, that Wall Street Crash in the subsequent Great Depression in the 30s, as like the prime example of how this system malfunctions, both in terms of stability and in terms of inequality. And I think a lot of people will think, well, this is, like you said, this boom. And bust is a feature of capitalism, and always has been a feature of capitalism. But many people will also say, well, the alternative, which maybe you may be alluding to, if we're talking about an alternative, which is, in many ways antithetical to the capitalistic system, things like communism, Marxism, or strong forms

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of socialism, those systems themselves have their own problems, if you like, you know, they have their own issues. For example, if we were to assume and watch, I'm not saying that this is your view, because I'm not sure exactly what you what your view is on this, but if we were to assume that the government is going to now possess or take all the means of production for itself and now distribute in an egalitarian type of way that means of production, and thus people will not have property rights or they will not have, you know, employment rights and so on and so forth. Then, the issues that commonly asked or the questions are commonly asked with this type of system will be

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pronounced things like, whereas meritocracy, in this kind of system, or meritocracy would be something which is much de emphasized in this kind of system, a lazy person, if you want to put it in colloquial terms can be rewarded for his laziness or laziness, it could be the case also that you have a transition to a kind of authoritarian system, because now the government has all this means of production, and many would use, I'm not saying this is, you know, the reason but many would use the examples of, you know, Lenin and Stalin and Mao and so on so forth, as examples of, you know, where the opposite which is Communist or Marxist kinds of systems would also go wrong. So having

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having said that, in terms of

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your diagnostic with capitalism, what makes you confident about and if if you are indeed confident about this, what makes you confident that a socialist or a Marxist system, or some kind of left leaning, fiscally economic system would be better than or not even better? That would be the solution?

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Well, it's very much in what we call in this country the $64,000. Question. Yeah, it's a question that, that from a television show that as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, yeah, people money?

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It's very important question. I'm glad you asked it. Let me respond if I can. Yes. But before I do about meritocracy, as I mentioned to you, I am the product of the most elite schools this country has. And I have benefited personally throughout my life from that fact, whenever I because I'm a critic of capitalism, because I do admit, and I don't run away from having learned an enormous amount from the Marxist tradition of criticism of capitalism. And since I don't shy away from that, I have been, I've had to have problems in my life because of my political perspective. And whenever I have, I've waived my pedigree, having gone to the right universities, and usually the folks back

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away because they are intimidated by the pedigree and they leave me alone, which is part of why I've been a professor and in America

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at universities, I'm on television, literally every day now, etc, etc.

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Why do I tell you this? Because meritocracy is a wonderful idea. I'm sure it would be interesting to live in a society that works that way. But I can assure you that the United States is not was not and is nowhere near being such a place. And if, if you think it is, then I take my hat off to the public relations of people for having persuaded folks of such a thing, I was surrounded at all of these institutions, by young men and women, some of whom were and still are my personal friends. But marriage is not what they had. They had parents with money, who got them into the right school at the right time, who've carried them all their lives, it's been a source of support for them, which

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they've appreciated. But it's also been a condemnation, to ambivalence about learning about human relationships. And I know this all from very close observation with these folks.

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Most of those of us who were quote, unquote successful in these universities came from less well off families who are able to get their kids like me, my parents had no money at all into these institutions at the various moments when they were open to people who had some intellectual interests. But no, in this country, that the honest statement is where you end up in life is not dependent on what you know, it's dependent on who you know. And that is well, well understood. I don't know what a government run systems arrangements would be my assumption, not that different. But in any case, meritocracy is a wonderful idea. I wish somebody would actually try to set that up.

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But we haven't managed. So. You've kind of alluded alluded this, I probably agree with you on those comments, or at least a large part of them. But the the point I'm making here is that if you did have a communist system, meritocracy, or the idea of merit,

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yeah, no, no, I am, I understand, let me get to that.

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Here's the way I would answer a yes, I am part of the left, I am part of the socialist, communist Marxist, whatever you want to call it. Left, it's critical of capitalism. But I'm also

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a product of the last century, I have seen what happened in the Soviet Union, or China, or Vietnam, or Cuba, or any of the other societies that have tried in one way or another, to depart from the capitalism that I grew up in, and that I know best, which is what we tend to call private capitalism, in the sense of the largest part of the economy is privately owned and operated, capitalist enterprises. Now, from my learning, I know that from the beginning of certainly of Marxism, Marx dies in 1883. So for the last 150 years, since he passed on, there's been a tradition of using his thinking, to criticize capitalism. And then once the Soviet Union revolution happens to

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try to install it. And I know, and I hope you do, that there haven't been long, deep, bitter disagreements, debate alternatives within the Marxian tradition as to what the words he wrote meant, what the critique should be, what the alternative might look like, there isn't one there isn't the socialist response. There never was. There are socialist responses at one of the things folks like me, and Boy, am I not alone here.

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One of the things we've learned is that the alternative to the capitalism we are critics of is not to have this state come in and do it. It is not to have the state take over industry, for example, neither by regulation, sort of the European social democratic system, nor the Soviet or Chinese type with a government. It's not true anymore in China, but it was for a while that the government literally displaces the private capitalist and runs the businesses itself. We see. We see that that didn't do what our criticism of capitalism aims at it, Stevie, what it didn't do. And that's a whole nother discussion. Is it replaced the private employer with the

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Government as the ultimate employer, that's interesting, that's a shift in our view, from a private capitalism to a state run capitalism, because for us, and your Marx is crucial. The key thing about capitalism is the relationship between the two players in this system, the employer and the employee, in capitalism, it's the employer who has all the power makes all the key decisions about every enterprise, every factory, every store, every office, a tiny group of people, the owner, the Board of Directors, the major shareholders, whatever they are tiny group of people make the decisions for the vast majority the employees. And that's how the system works. For us. That's the

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problem. And that's not solved. If you get rid of the private citizen in the employer position and substitute for that a public official in the employer position, which is largely what the Soviet Union, for example, did. Our view is that the problem is that relationship, the employer employee relationship, and that what needs to be done and what socialism means for us in the 21st century, is the radical transformation of the enterprise so that it becomes not a hierarchical employer employee structure, but instead a demo cratic community in which all the players, whatever their function in the division of labor within the enterprise, one person, one vote, they decide with debate,

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discussion and majority rule, what to produce, what technology to use, where to carry out the production, and what to do with the profits, that all of them together have helped to produce that democratization of the enterprise structure internal, is what we think the future holds as a solution to both the problems of private capitalism with which we began our conversation today. And the problems of the state capitalism, that were the efforts of the last century to go beyond capitalism. I believe those efforts are now exhausted, we learned much, much was accomplished, many terrible mistakes were made, we're ready for the next thing. Right? So let me tell you, I put my

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cards on the table as well, what I kind of my way My position is, so obviously, I'm coming from the Islamic tradition.

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And, and actually, Islam does have discussions on economics and obviously, as a cat is one of the pillars of Islam. But in terms of where we stand on this discussion, or where I stand, and maybe maybe we'll agree, is, yeah, so the capitalism, we don't agree with it. But we also don't agree with communism. And so the reason why is because in terms of capitalism, we've talked about the inequality problem, and you've talked about the instability problem. For us.

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I really don't think that there is a push towards an equality of outcome from the Islamic perspective. In other words, and the reason why we base we have this judgment, or at least I have this judgment is because of a well known saying of the Prophet. So basically, some people came to the Prophet Mohammed and asked him, some people will raising the prices in a market. Okay, so and so they asked him to basically lower the prices in which he responded, he said that God is the one who sets the prices. In other words, I'm not going to get myself involved in setting lowering and increasing prices. So because, because that's not really my it's not my position. And so from that,

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that there seems to be like a free market kind of understanding from the obviously the money supply based, but at the same time, there's a redistribution, understanding as well, because it was a catalyst, there's eight recipients of the capital, eight categories of recipients of them is of the people who basically don't have money or appear or the one who is impoverished, or those who don't have enough to fulfill their basic needs and so on. But it would seem to me that from from this perspective,

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the economic inequality factor, although is something which is not necessarily desirable is not something which is seen as immoral from the Islamic perspective, so long as the basic needs of the individuals being met. And in fact, there is a verse in the Quran to that effect, which says, well, Jana Baba Camilla Barton

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for kebab and Dora Jetson yetta Kumar combat on Syria, that we have actually allowed some of you to exceed others in levels.

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And so you can use all that they can they can use

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Other people for employment purposes, you can even, I'm not sure that employment would be the right kind of translation, but you can, they can use them for their own advantage, which seems to me to be exactly against what Marx would say, because obviously surplus value, the idea that

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you know that the the employer employee relationship is an exploitive one is cool, basically, this my understanding of Marxism, that when you have this hierarchy, the employer employee relationship, then there's an exploitation going on by necessity, almost, because this is surplus value. And so Marxism for me seems to say, Well, what we need to do is we need to kind of abolish this so that the hierarchy is eliminated. And it seems to be the assumption from, from what I'm hearing from you is that the inequality is a bad thing in all cases. And so even when it comes to the equality of outcome, we want to achieve equality of outcome. Whereas what it seems to me from from reading my

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tradition is that equality of outcome is not a desirable objective. And in fact, the burden of proof would be the upon the one who's making the claim. So in other words, if someone says, equality of outcome is a desirable objective, that everyone should have the same kind of model, the same kind of,

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you know, resources, and they shouldn't be this kind of hierarchical structure of employee employee. And that is an exploitative one as core, then the person who's making this claim, it seems to be a very epistemologically heavy claim, with many assumptions would have to prove in the first instance, instance that that it is undesirable that that is exploitation, and objectively true exploitation, number one, and number two, that will be desirable to have equality of outcome, so that it would seem before we can get to the point of saying we inequality is a bad thing, which seems to be like a very, like Gen Y thing to say, to problems would have to be solved. One of them is, how do you know?

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or How can you prove that equality of outcome when it comes to economics is a good thing? And how can you prove that the employer employee relationship or surplus value everyone call it is, in fact, an exploitative thing at all? From an objective kind of perspective? Sure, let me respond, which I think I can.

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First a couple of points when we may disagree. Yeah. Notice that I tried to stress that there are different interpretations of socialism and Marxism. And, as with all, you know, great traditions of thinking there are disagreements and varieties of interpretation. Yeah, from the little bit I know about Islam, it's true of that tradition to that there are differing perspectives on on how to read the Quran, how do we interpret it? And how to understand the writings and contributions of great thinkers in the Islamic tradition, etc, etc.

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And I would guess that some of them are probably closer, and some of them are further from the perspective within Marxism that I've tried to argue.

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Number. My apologies for that.

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number one, number two, let's be clear, I did not advocate some kind of blanket equality, neither of quote, opportunity, nor, quote, outcome. That's not the issue. The issue would be if if I make myself clear, is that, for example, in an enterprise run democratically, one of the decisions that would be made democratically is what range of difference among the people in an enterprise including difference in income wage or salary or whatever word you want, would be appropriate that that is a socially determined and should be democratically determined? range of difference, but there is no presumption or not none as needed in the argument I'm making, that they would decide they like, but

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there's no presumption that they would have to decide that everybody gets the same at that moment that that's usually been, I'm not saying you did this, but usually, that kind of image has been used as a bit of a caricature in order to criticize the physician. That's not necessary. But let me give you an example of why this is. This idea is important. Over the last

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eight months here in the United States, as I said,

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300,000 people have died of the COVID-19 and 60 million, a third of our labor force has had to go into unemployment, doing which whatever savings they have

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We used up, during which they leaned on their family and relatives and friends and neighbors for help at a time when the friends and neighbors were unable to help them or couldn't do much. And so, we've had a massive diminution in the standard of living of at least half our population. At the same time, I'm going to give you one example, Jeffrey Bezos, the owner and CEO

00:40:33 --> 00:40:34

of the

00:40:37 --> 00:40:40

Amazon Corporation, I assume you know what that is.

00:40:42 --> 00:40:56

His forte, his personal fortune went from roughly $130 billion to over $200 billion dollars, right? If we took away

00:40:57 --> 00:41:28

$180 billion from this man, we could he By the way, that would leave him with 20 billion, and he would then be among the 100 richest people in this country and in the world, that 100 and 80 billion could save the lives and transform the lives of 10s of millions of his fellow citizens. That's how capitalism now works.

00:41:29 --> 00:41:53

This level of inequality is what this system produces, just as it produces wealth at one pole, say, in Western Europe, and poverty in Africa, etc, etc, I don't have to tell you that you know that better than I do. But what gives us the right to take, for example, with that analogy, what would give us the right to take 180 billion from that from that man, like

00:41:55 --> 00:42:02

the moral imperative, that a man who can continue to be among the richest in our community,

00:42:04 --> 00:42:07

would enable by that movement of wealth,

00:42:08 --> 00:42:33

to do something for the larger community that it has already done for him. He's paying back, the mass of people produce the surplus that gives him that income. So that is that moral imperative premise, or in some way, predicated by the idea that that level of inequality should not exist within a society that

00:42:34 --> 00:42:56

it may or may not, that's, that's really not relevant here. What you have is a need and a desire on the part of I don't know, I'll pick a number 30 million people who could be helped by this by doing this, on the one hand, and the desire of Mr. Bezos, not to have that money taken from him.

00:42:57 --> 00:42:57

Yeah, I get that.

00:42:59 --> 00:43:58

That's exactly parallel to the fact that there are, I don't know, two or 3 million people who work in Amazon warehouses, where they are driven, like I've worked, they're driven like animals paid an absurdly low amount of money, which brings them to work only because in this society, if they didn't take that job, they'd be in even worse circumstances. So they take the job knowing that for every hour that they work for Mr. Bezos, they add to the services, he sells more value than he pays them in a wage, which is why he hires them. He wouldn't hire them, because that's how capitalism works. You'll never hire a worker, unless the worker produces more for you than it costs you to have him

00:43:58 --> 00:44:22

come Monday through Friday from nine to five. So you are producing a surplus that enriches Mr. Bezos at your expense. Yeah. Let me finish. Yes, right. Now the question becomes, what does Mr. Bezos do for you? And you know, if Mr. Bezos insists,

00:44:23 --> 00:44:47

and if I were advising him, I would tell him this. Yeah. And by the way, I am advising people like him, and I do tell them what I'm about to tell you for a good long while, you may get away with this. But a time will come when you won't. And how you act now will determine what happens to you when this imbalance is corrected.

00:44:48 --> 00:44:59

All right, there's a few things that once again, it kind of forces me back to the assumptions of the entire project, right because, once again, we're assuming a few things. We're assuming that

00:45:01 --> 00:45:39

180 million sorry a billion dollars wouldn't would be justifiably taken away from him or and all that that level of inequality should not exist within society. By the way, that's fine. I mean, I don't necessarily disagree with the sentiment. There's actually a verse in the Quran which says, Hi, Tara takuna doula and Ben Lachman Comm. So it doesn't become a circulation among the rich among you. So I'm not I'm not saying that I agree with capitalism, or I agree with money being circulated among the higher echelons of society. But what I am saying is, at what point do we say? Well, you have so many ideals here, you talked about democracy, democracy is one political philosophy. And then you've

00:45:39 --> 00:46:08

got liberalism, which says that, you know, property should be protected. And then you have Marxism, which talks about surplus value. If we're in a society, which claims to be liberal, in the case of the United Kingdom, and the United States as well, it claims to be liberal, and it claims to also be democratic. At what point do we prioritize a democratic kind of reasoning, which in this case, seems to be, you know, one vote, one person, everything, everyone counts with a liberal principle, which is that property should be protected.

00:46:09 --> 00:46:38

And if we do prioritize one over the other, what allows us what gives us the, the right to hierarchize, for example, the right for one person to have as much as say, as another person, which is democratic side over another, which says that property should be protected and or wealth also should be protected, which is the liberal ethic, what, who is responsible for hierarchized these ideals, and coming to different conclusions as a result of it? Because if we say that was

00:46:40 --> 00:46:48

me, but otherwise, otherwise, you know, you accumulate your points are all important. It's not that it's too many for me to respond.

00:46:49 --> 00:47:44

There is no answer to that question. Yeah, history answers that question. liberalism is the ideology of capitalism. It says, if the capital if I can hire you, yes, and I can rip you off. By making you produce more value that I pay for you. Look, I could show you, it's easy to do in economics, I could show you that by hiring, let's pick someone, john or Mary, it doesn't matter. By hiring that individual. I now have $50 an hour more goods or services to sell, as someone could say, so what what's the problem with that? Yeah, yeah, let me let me do it. Okay. So I hire you, I have $50 more, because your labor, your use of your brains, and your muscle added $50 worth of output that I can

00:47:44 --> 00:48:13

sell. And I really appreciate your coming there. And so I'm going to give you half of what you produce, I'm going to give you $25 an hour. Yeah. And to show you my appreciation for your giving me $50 worth of output, your labor. Okay, so I'm, I'm really happy because I'm getting 50. And then exchange, I'm giving you 25.

00:48:15 --> 00:49:00

And the only and your answer to me would then be our Wait a minute. It's my effort, my brains, my muscle, those are finite resources. I my labor produces 50. I don't want to be given 25 because I did the work. You didn't, I did. So I want the full value of what I have added to this enterprises output. And you say to me, sorry, 25 is all you get. And I know that that's going to work because I know that if you don't take this job, the next job you can get will give you 24

00:49:01 --> 00:49:50

really, this is surplus value you're talking to salutely Yeah, absolutely. And so I just want you to understand from that perspective, what Mr. Bezos is accumulating his the surplus that he squeezes out of millions of employees in this way, he's like a pharaoh in ancient Egypt or something with you know, 10 million slaves or whatever the equivalent would be. And so he can build a pyramid and he can live the way they did, etc, etc. There is whether there is one there is one, I would say one major difference between the two. The major difference would be that in the case of the Pharaoh, or Ramses or Ramses the second, if you want to take the biblical historian seriously on that, you know,

00:49:50 --> 00:49:59

whoever it may be that's enslaving populations in the ancient time with with the owner of Amazon

00:50:00 --> 00:50:29

The employer, the employees have a choice, they can either get into that contract or they don't, or they don't have to get into that contract. Whereas when in a purely slave type relationship, the choice is not there in the first place, there's no choice at all the ideal is either you're going to be my slave, or you're going to be my slave, there's no option to that. But with that one, you can either be employed with that surplus in place, or you don't have to be employed with that surplus in place. And then what happens to you?

00:50:31 --> 00:51:06

What happens to you you can you have, you have an opportunity to be to be the one who's setting up the surpluses or or being the beneficiary of it by being an employer yourself? And oh, wait, wait a minute, the only way you can do that is if you have capital, which is what workers don't have. I don't think that's always true. Like, especially not in today's society where you can, there's some startup businesses and so on that you can start with literally no capital whatsoever, you can start off with an account on the internet, and you can start making money from the beginning. Or you can have very limited capital, and then literally, just tweet, do you actually believe that what you

00:51:06 --> 00:51:15

just said, Really? I think there are many examples of companies, if you look, if you look at them that started with very limited capital, but then

00:51:16 --> 00:51:29

continue to grow. Yeah, it's a different argument. Yeah. People who start businesses with no capital, but we talk about no capital, that person is impoverished, the person is not in a position of any he doesn't.

00:51:30 --> 00:52:11

majority of Americans, the vast majority of Americans not only have no capital, but they have negative net worth. That is the debts they have exceed their assets. They have no capital. And because they have no capital, they can't get access to other people's capital, either. Yeah. So that I would agree with you. I don't think there should be an economy or in a society where there's this people with that. And in fact, one of the one of the recipients. Yeah, yeah. One of the recipients like, from my perspective, the religious perspective, one of the recipients of the cat would be an indebted person. So someone who doesn't who has what you've just described, is it? Well, then you're

00:52:11 --> 00:52:21

agreeing with me? Because that's a good point. Yeah. On the on the Prop, we would take from Mr. Bezos, his 100 80 billion, or if I had my way, much more than that, but we would

00:52:23 --> 00:52:49

compromise, I could compromise, we take 180 billion, and we transfer it so that, for example, we eliminate Yes. Just to be clear, I'm not saying that we should not have a robust system of redistribution in an economy, I'm saying that we should have it. I think the 100 and 80 billion is we're talking about, you know, 910 9%. Tax, although over the last 40 years, I could show you that if you're interested. Now with that note with this.

00:52:51 --> 00:52:58

With Yeah, over the last 40 years, we have had a massive redistribution of wealth.

00:52:59 --> 00:53:53

Here in the United States, we have had the undoing of the New Deal. We have erased everything that was accomplished in the 1930s. And more. So with that kind of thing we don't agree with Yeah, so I would I would on that I agree. With all with all due respect. Yeah. With the agreement is very nice. But what we needed was social movement to prevent that from happening. And because it didn't, you are now seeing as I'm sure you will, a movement against capitalism, yes, cause of the inequality that it continues, even, you know, we have our politicians Think of it this way. Look at this spectacle. Politicians less than right, Democrat, Republican, I'm talking to us here. But it's

00:53:53 --> 00:54:42

similar in other country, we had the politicians telling us we all have to work together to get through this pandemic to get through this health crisis that the world faces, blah, blah. Meanwhile, we are all together fighting this thing. That is if you pardon me Bs, that's nonsense, because what's underlying that is a continuation of a really radical redistribution of wealth by a system that is not only failing to deal with the public health crisis continues, having been already the most unequal capitalism in the world, to become more so. Yes. Agreed. Agreed, I think.

00:54:44 --> 00:55:00

Yes, I think see what happens when systems are about to crash. I think that point is definitely true. I think when you're talking about, I guess, how I would answer that question from within my own tradition, I would say that the it's not about equality being completely under

00:55:00 --> 00:55:35

desirable, it's about the extent to which inequality is undesirable. And I think the extent to which inequality is undesirable from my own tradition is where it leads to people being indebted in the minuses as you've just mentioned, and or it leads to people not having housing, or it leads to people not having access to medical treatment or the basics. And with that, there should be a robust system of redistribution, and so on that we do agree, although probably would have different prescriptions, I mean, if we were, you know, in charge, and so on. But here's something I would want to ask you. I mean, this is probably one of the defining features of the Islamic system, in terms of

00:55:35 --> 00:55:48

economics, is the eradication of interest completely. Yeah, so that is probably one of the most dramatic things which any capitalist would be completely against. But this aspect of river or usury or interest.

00:55:49 --> 00:56:11

How would you think just kind of gained from your experience? How do you think an economy would? What would you think an economy would look like? If we slowly but surely got rid of interest? Would you think it would flatten the boom and bust that you were talking about? In the beginning of the segment, we're talking about four to seven years of boom and bust? Do you reckon that economic depressions will be less

00:56:12 --> 00:56:26

pronounced, and at the same time booms will be also flattened out a little bit? What do you think, would happen if banks were told they can't charge interest rates, or even all governments and all banks as well?

00:56:28 --> 00:57:10

Well, you know, again, it's one of these decisions, it's like any other market, I look at interest as there's a market in money. And if you want to borrow money under the current situation, you can do that if you have collateral, and if you pay interest, and blah, blah, blah, I'm fully aware that both in the Islamic tradition and for that matter, also in the, in the Christian tradition, there are long periods of time, Middle Ages, in Europe, for example, when there was the Roman Catholic Church was dominant. And it prohibited what they called usury, which is basically the charging of interest. And it comes out of a biblical tradition, which says that if another person needs your

00:57:10 --> 00:57:59

help, your job as a good Christian is to give that person help. And it is not helpful to demand more back from the person you're helping than you gave them that undercuts and destroys the whole notion of charity and of giving arms and being a good Christian, blah, blah, all of that. I understand that. I think, by the way, in the history of capitalism, there have been movements, there are today, either to eliminate interest or to radically control interest. For example, among the 50 states, here in the United States, there's quite a bit of difference, you cannot charge certain levels of interest in some states that you can charge in others, because there have been social movements that

00:57:59 --> 00:58:47

either asked to eliminate interest more to control it than there are, for example, movements quite strong among students in the United States, saying that they shouldn't be charged interest for the loans required nowadays, to get a college degree in the United States. And that the the, the debt that they've accumulated should be canceled, either the interest portion of it or even the principal portion of it, etc, etc, etc. So it's a contentious issue. I don't think capitalism hangs on it one way or another, there could be alternative ways of allocating capital, other than using the interest rate. For me, this is the usual question of the market. And by the way, I'm not familiar enough with

00:58:47 --> 00:58:54

Islam, to be sure, but I know in the Christian tradition, and I'm no Christian, either. But in the Christian tradition,

00:58:55 --> 00:59:08

there's an equivalent notion that not only should there be no interest, but that there should the price of everything, and this may disagree with it, your quotation from Mohammed from earlier.

00:59:09 --> 00:59:35

In the Christian tradition, there's a so called just price, genuine st the price of justice, with the Justice being derived from the Bible, that something should be priced. By the way, they the the the literature suggests that what is just is that the price should reflect the toil and trouble of the worker who produces the object. Now Marx would say that would never be the case. Right?

00:59:36 --> 00:59:59

Excuse me, Marx would interject would would say that that would never be the case by virtue of the hierarchy in the first place. Well, it's not so much hierarchy. The system as a whole Yeah. doesn't function that way. But but it by the way, Marx is, as I understand very clear that the notion of surplus is not what you refer to earlier as quote unquote

01:00:00 --> 01:00:45

objective or something that has a standard that makes it truer than something else. That's what human beings do. They disagree about how the world works, what a Marxist does, as far as I understand it, is used the theory of surplus and value that comes out of Marx, who in turn got that idea from Smith and Ricardo and the people that preceded him. This is one way of understanding how the world works. It's not the only one, it is always in debate with alternatives, both within the Marxian tradition and outside just ask you on that, wouldn't you say, though, because they the Marxism is largely based on historical materialism, and

01:00:46 --> 01:00:50

that there is a kind of push towards making this as objective as possible.

01:00:52 --> 01:01:43

Oh, no, no, no, that that is a way for me again, I am I am not speaking for all Marxist. Yeah, I didn't my understanding of Marxism. He is a student of Hegel, who is featured in Germany, and that he made that very clear. And for him, of the human community, is a group of people who interact with the world in different ways. They dress differently, they sing differently, they eat in a different way. And they think in a different way. Yeah. And if I asked you the question, which is the right way to eat with a knife and fork with your fingers with chopsticks, you'd react, I hope and say to me, that's a silly question. There isn't a right way to eat, there are culturally historically

01:01:43 --> 01:02:36

developed alternative ways human beings, nourish themselves with food. And I would say, yes, agreed. And there are also different ways they make sense of the world. The Marxist way, I understand, uses the apparatus of surplus to understand the world. And that shapes the political conclusions we come to. But I'm clear that other people have alternative theoretical frameworks. And that's why my sense is that it's history. It's the struggle amongst these alternatives, that determines, in the context of our historical situation, what each of these perspectives, grow, thrive and shake the world, and which of the past sort of like human beings are born, evolve over time and die. And this is pretty

01:02:36 --> 01:03:12

much what happens to these ways of thinking. And my discussion of capitalism was designed to make the point that what's happening in the larger framework is giving a boost to the Marxian criticism of capitalism, at a depth and on a scale I have never seen in the history of the United States, certainly not in my lifetime, but nothing that I've read about that history, either. By the way, just to comment on something there is such a thing as a kind of just price as well in the Islamic tradition and the 83rd chapter of the Quran there is Yeah.

01:03:14 --> 01:03:15

I don't know enough.

01:03:16 --> 01:03:58

But exploitation is, is not it's once again, it's not the same as you know, a Marxian surplus understanding where there's where there is this exploitation going on because of because of the by virtue of the system, or whatever you want to put it. But going back to this question of materialism up for me, like when you use historical materialism, it seemed like a push to be scientific in a sense, but there is going to be a point where you move from is to ought to use kind of like a David humean dichotomy or distinction. So this is how the world works. Or this is the history of the world that there was, you know, feudalism or slavery and feudalism and capitalism. And then there's going

01:03:58 --> 01:04:27

to be communism, this kind of meta narrative, if you like, this is how it was. But now this is how it ought to be. This is what becomes moralizing discourse, where becomes a philosophy, philosophizing discourse, where you're putting your own kind of morality into it. And this is defined as exploitation, this is defined as just and this is defined as what should happen or what ought to happen. And, and there is where I would, and there's why I think that discussion is really the base of

01:04:28 --> 01:05:00

of Marxism has to be premised on something as solid as possible. I think I really do think Marx attempted to do that. But from the is to the OLT is where we have a problem or we have an issue in terms of really proving that. That is what exploitation is in any objective way. But if someone says, well, it's subjective, well, the movement from okay this is what happened to this is what ought to happen and then becomes a matter of public opinion, then really, we can't say

01:05:00 --> 01:05:20

That minimum wage should be sat this price or that price it then it becomes a matter of luck. Are you using chopsticks and I'm using a knife and fork, it becomes really a matter of aesthetic value judgment really, at this point? Yeah, well, here, perhaps you and I disagree. In my experience as best I can make sense of the world around me.

01:05:22 --> 01:05:38

Every single person, you, me and everybody else who might be drawn into this conversation has a set of odds, right? If you have various words for this, you know, have utopian desires has dreams of a better world. And yes,

01:05:40 --> 01:05:56

is drawn, for example, to religion, as a place where a better world or a set of arts is articulated, that you vibrate to that means something to you, that that you embrace. In some sense, we all have that. That's number one.

01:05:57 --> 01:06:50

We differ about them. But we all have these designs, especially those who suggest that they don't have it. for them. The problem is they have it, but they need to deny it a little bit like what we've learned from psychology over the last 100 years. Yes. And I'm also this just my perspective of persuasion. I'm also persuaded that for everybody, you, me and everybody else, the arts we have our part of our mental apparatus and shape, the quote unquote, objective reality, we try to grasp. In other words, we don't have some wall between the desires, the hopes, the dreams, the utopian longings on the one hand, and the analytic apparatus we deploy on the other, I find the notion that

01:06:50 --> 01:07:49

one of them is quote, unquote, subjective, and the other one objective, to be fundamentally nonsense. Your your ability to formulate a utopian dream is as objectively determined, as everything else. That is, it's a product of the whole world, you live in the minister, the mom, your parents, your soul, your loved ones, all of those things, your political experience your job, they shape, both your analytic capability, and your utopian longings, which shape each other in the process, as well. And I find the so called distinction subjective, objective, useless, unless it means and then it becomes trivial. subjective is you alone? An objective is the largest society, but it's just a

01:07:49 --> 01:08:38

collection of cells in the sense that like, for example, if science works in a very systematic way, and obviously Social Sciences in attempt to mimic it in many ways, but if, if so, if science worked in the way that you've just described, then it would be very difficult to establish anything, because if you go into the laboratory, and you know, it does physical or natural science, chemistry, biology, mathematics, it is exactly what I just said. That's how it is, it is a proposition. Look, people right now are debating whether the world is best understood as an energy flow, or as a set of particles. And there's a distinction between quanta of one or the other. And it can't agree

01:08:38 --> 01:08:50

literally on what matter is no, I accept that. What I mean is that, for example, we have controlled conditions that all of us can, when we speak in the in the language of mathematics, we're all speaking in exactly the same language. So when,

01:08:51 --> 01:09:39

really, sir, in all due respect, yeah. I'm a mathematician, before I became an economist, tell me why if you have a radically different ways of understanding what a number is, what a field is, what a set is, what words like large or small or infinity, or any other basic mathematical concept is an object of debate. And by the way, it's very important to grasp that Otherwise, you'll become fixated on something as permanent, when nothing is I get that and I've also read goeddel in terms of incompleteness theory, and really understand where you're coming from in terms of the axioms of psycho.

01:09:40 --> 01:09:59

Heisenberg, that what whatever you think is going on in the physical universe, is shaped by how you think of that universe, how you constructed the microscope, the telescope or any other tool you use has already in it.

01:10:00 --> 01:10:19

The theory at the time that object was created, but would you use it? Would you agree that there's more of a symbiotic type of relationship between actors that in a sense, this kantian notion that we are the ones who are kind of projecting the reality onto the world, rather than the reality being extracted from the world?

01:10:20 --> 01:10:23

What is for me, it's, it's always both

01:10:25 --> 01:10:56

the world shapes us, including Yeah, we understand that the world is. So there's a symbiosis, how we understand the world shapes the world, right? how the world is, shapes our understanding of it. But we speak English together now. And we are using sentences, right. And so if we didn't have the same understanding of what in a sense of noun is, or maybe not in a grammatical sense, but at least in a conversational sense, we would not we wouldn't be able to have this conversation so that there's, there are some basic,

01:10:57 --> 01:11:46

I don't, I've done this work, I don't agree with that going, I don't believe that you and I, when we use the word noun in a sentence, talking to each other, we have a convention, you and I, it's because of our histories, our cultural development, you and I are having a conversation and we are using words, the same words, let's call it the word noun, for example. But I don't infer from that at all, that we have the same meaning for that word, we're just agreeing not to worry about that. Now, there will come a time if you and I continue this conversation. If we develop it, if we apply it, if we see merit in continuing, we will come at a certain point. And to realize you and I both

01:11:46 --> 01:11:58

that we meant something else that we thought the other one meant, yeah, when we use that word, there's always going to be like, an interpretive scope in terms of language, but

01:12:00 --> 01:12:44

then again, that language is meaningful by definition, right? Otherwise, not the same meeting? Yes, not the same. Otherwise, you wouldn't be able to have this conversation? What otherwise this conversation would be, like jibber jabber wouldn't be able to have a go if there is language. That's an extreme, you know, it's totally the right thing, when we're deriving meanings, which is why we're doing this, you thought there would be some meaning in talking to me, and I thought the same visually talking to you. I feel that way. Now, I find this interesting. But I have no illusion, because that's what I think it would be that you and I don't have all kinds of issues, already

01:12:44 --> 01:13:20

lurking in the sentences we have given each other, but that haven't yet risen to the point that you and I want to talk about them. Just like we went for quite a while before we got to this epistemological question. I think conversation happens all the time between people who do not agree what the meaning is of the words they're using, but get other kinds of benefits out of the interaction. I think, for example, that I will be provoked, in ways I can't even specify yet by URI telling me

01:13:21 --> 01:14:06

in passing, that the Islamic tradition also has a kind of just price kind of idea that's interest, I'm going to that's going to stay in the back of my mind, I don't know exactly when I will pursue it, or how I will pursue it, but it has a meaning to me. And at some point, I'll figure that out. And if you and I are talking, we will laugh with one another that what you meant and what I got were not the same. And that's not aberrational, it doesn't have to be the same for us to get value out of conversation. It never was. If I can give you the example that I use when I teach, when young people get together and find themselves attracted to one another.

01:14:07 --> 01:14:27

And they say, you are my friend, or you are my beloved. It turns out, it takes quite a while for the two of them to figure out what each of them meant when they use such words with when sometimes people can speak cross purposes. Right? That's that's basically the

01:14:28 --> 01:15:00

polarizing I don't mean, it's not it's not cross purposes. It's just different. It takes time to work out the differences. And here's the irony very daily. As you work out the differences over one word, you produce no differences in the very words you use never stops. But that doesn't mean there isn't communication, right? Communication and identity are not to say never, but you see this is a very

01:15:00 --> 01:15:11

Important thing, because when when use the term. So now we've talked about it in the context of language. But when we kind of apply this to the meta ethic, if you like, when you use the term exploitation.

01:15:12 --> 01:15:55

And, for example, if we use it in a Marxian way, we say surplus value, for example, exploitation, all these key terms associated with Marxist philosophy, if it's not meant to be understood by a collective at least, then it becomes impossible to act upon the content material. Because if what we're saying is that everyone can understand exploitation, whatever way they want to, where everyone can understand surplus value in whatever way they please, then there will not be an impetus or even an ability for a collective to cancel, let's do what, you know, a communist revolution, or let's do this. Because in that in that setting, everyone's got different ideas. And there is no measurement

01:15:55 --> 01:16:31

of exploitation. exploitation becomes an arbitrary ad hoc figment of the subjects interpretation. I know, but you're looking for something beyond that. Yeah. Look, when I go, when I talk to people about the surplus, here's what I'm hoping for. Yeah, that's a very complicated differences among all the people in a room, students, workers and whatever is gathered, however big or small, the collective may be five people, 5000 people, and I address groups of all different sizes, right? We don't now because of COVID, but we used to.

01:16:33 --> 01:17:24

My hope is that these words, these, this theory of the surplus, as I articulated, yeah, touches them, means something to them, Do I understand that they all gonna have to agree with money, absolutely not that that's not gonna happen. I don't think that ever happened. I think every social movement is a collection of a large number of people with very different ideas, but who all understand that they need one another. And they're going to work out, or maybe suspend for a while, their disagreements or their differences, because they have something else in addition to those that they want to accomplish. And they understand they can't do that individually, they have to do that

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collectively. And I argue that's what we're doing, then, theory that I'm about to explain, is a way for us to achieve this outcome which this collective has an interest in pursuing. And I hope that works, because that's all theory ever was. So let me ask you one of the pre, kind of last questions I want to ask you, because it's been a pleasure speaking to you.

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By the way, I appreciate that your interests were not just what usually passes for economics, but went into philosophy and epistemology. And if that's part of your, your Islamic commitment, my hat's off to you, that makes it much better conversation. No frill. I mean, it's, it's very, it's very productive conversation for me, obviously speaking to someone of Your Eminence, one of the most influential really, professors who's seen as a Marxist. I'm not sure if you describe yourself as such. But it's been?

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I don't, but I'm happy if you do. No.

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I was gonna say is that in terms of a robust theory of justice, because a lot of the underpinning of this is about justice and injustice, obviously. Yes. My question to you is very straightforward. Do you ever think that justice can be achieved in this world? If we're talking about society, economics, or politics do you do you start off, like, because you've elaborated upon what you see as problematic with what's going on in the economy, and you've talked about the 1930s example, and the Wall Street Crash and Great Depression, FDR, and then moved all the way up to 2008. You know, and today, with the pandemic, these are all in justices and I think both of us will agree with with

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that, to some extent, using different paradigms and different understandings, but coming to maybe a similar conclusion. But do you think, therefore, that justice is achievable? economic, political, social in this world? Or do you think that really, Justice is not achievable at all?

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Well, you know, I think of justice as a moving target. Maybe that's the best way for me to put it. Yeah.

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I think the notion of what is just has always changed over time. I don't see a reason to believe that won't continue.

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I think it is part of the history of the human race to formulate

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notions of justice to seek

01:20:05 --> 01:20:06

a criticism

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of societies on the bay. And I mean by society, everything as little as a household or as big as a, as a large community, that there are concepts of justice that we use to understand our environment, whether it's a household or or a whole country or anything in between.

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and that it represents what we mentioned earlier, a utopian longing for a way of interacting with one another, that is somehow honorable to one another, that is, that is rooted in a kind of solidarity, appreciation of human life and of its possibilities and of, of the emotions and relationships that were able to construct. And to be able to look at a society and say, Look isn't working here, it is falling short here.

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Will we get to some some state of perfection? In some sense of justice? I doubt it. I my suspicion is that we will, we will make progress, we will move in a certain direction, fueled and shaped by our notion of justice, but in the very process of moving in a direction given to us by a notion of justice, that very movement will again change his ego, again, change notion of justice, so that it's a it's a feature, that's a feature of life. So the short answer is no, I don't think we're probably ever get to a place where we think we're done. We have arrived at some, I don't think that I would agree with that. I mean, even even though obviously, I come from a tradition, which is religious in

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nature, and obviously, the ideas of Sharia law, which is obviously a taboo subject, just as Marxism is in American circles, among people, but the idea of these divinely inspired laws, which are meant to produce the best results, I think a lot of people caricature them in a very similar way that people caricature Marxist understanding, because the Muslim position is that the Muslim position is not that

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we put in these laws or taking away taking away usually, or putting in systems of distribute redistribution, or allowing the market to set its own prices, the things that we said are part of the Islamic tradition, in order to get justice in this world, because justice in this world from the Islamic paradigm is actually unattainable. And that's why it's relegated to the eschaton in that sense, and there's this whole thing called the Day of Judgment, or literally your Meridian, which literally means that they were debt is redeemed, because the income from Erica Dane, which, which literally means that because everyone's going to be indebted to somebody else, not just in economic

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terms. And I think this moving more into vagary and kind of an analysis, but also in sociological terms, where people are unjust to each other and actions and behaviors and so on. And so, and therefore, everything is relegated to the eschaton, to the afterlife to the Day of Judgment. And therefore it's kind of like an A, it's kind of is an ideal state. But then the realization that you're not going to get what you deserve, or you're not even going to be given what you deserve in this world, I think although is, in many ways, a sad thing to think about. being grounded in that reality gives one, in many ways, more hope of what to expect, and being more of a realist. So I

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would agree with the fact that justice can't be established in this world, because this is the reason from the Islamic perspective for you know, God, one God, the Creator, God, and so on, so forth, having this day of judgment, the eschaton, where he literally any exploitation that has been done will be basically fixed on that day. Bye. It's been it's been a pleasure talking to you really it has. And I'm going to leave some of the because if people want to know more about socialism, you have written books about introduction to such a thing as introduction to socialism, understanding, oh, understanding socialism, and other books, you've you've produced many books. So I'll put

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something in the description box for people to see in order to, because I do believe that people need to be literate when it comes to these systems, you know, they need to know, you know, what, what is the argument? And also if they are Muslim, because many people that were watching this are going to be Muslim, to not caricature, you know, Marxist beliefs. Or one thing I've learned from you is that actually, this idea that, you know, the government is going to take all the production from your perspective, and then, you know, it's not really what you're saying at all isn't Not at all.

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The thing that we emphasize here, if I could say two things,

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The concluding one is that the focus for us is the democratization of the enterprise. We stress worker co ops as an alternative way at the base of society to reorganize the workplace on the theory that adults spend a huge part of their lives at work. In our country here, five out of seven days, the best hour, excuse me, of those days, you're at work. And if you want a good society, a democratic society, then workplace should have been the first place where that democracy and that a good society should have been established. Ironically, the history of capitalism has been to exclude democracy from the workplace, even as it celebrates its own democratic nature, particularly here in

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this country. It is false, because it is a society where the majority of people work, go to a workplace that is organized in an anti democratic way, tiny number of people at the top making all the decisions. Notice in what I'm saying that I don't say a word about the government, it's got nothing to do with the government. It really, that that's, that's, that's a socialism of the 20th century, the new record of socialism is this other one. The other thing, the only other thing I would say, and I mean this to be provocative, in a good way,

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much of what I suspect listening to you, motivates a desire for religious activity, religious engagement, Islamic or other, isn't all that different from what motivates others, to a Marxist criticism of capitalism, to get to a better place for human beings, to share their differences, to argue in a good way that teaches each of us what we can learn from the other, which is always significant. I have a yearning for that kind of a society in which this kind of conversation you and I have had, can end up wondering productively, about the similarities of what we are trying to do, even in different languages in different cultural traditions and different images of what it is

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we're doing. And what we're after, is a much, much better way to go than to live, as you put it rightly, with these caricatures, that I think are driven more by fear than they are by by, by an honest engagement in what we're like and where we're different.

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I thank you so so much for this brilliant experience having you on the podcast. And obviously if you want any more information about Islam, or or anything like that, so you can kind of make comparisons between Marxism or Islam or any other reason, please let us know and we'll send you the material will do and if you want to have this conversation at some future point again, please know I'd be glad to hear from you and to arrange to do that. Fantastic.

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