- What is capitalism and how does it work? What is capital?
- What does ‘power’ consist of under capitalism?
- What differentiates capitalism from other forms of society, like feudalism or socialism?
- What explains economic inequality? Why have wages stagnated while the economy has gotten more and more productive?
Our Political Education Committee held a session on Understanding Capitalism January 27, 2021. We’re sharing the reading materials and discussion questions here so others can make use of it.
You may find the Understanding Capitalism slide deck from our session useful as you go through the reading materials.
Understanding Capitalism (PDF, pamphlet A of Chibber’s ABCs of Capitalism pamphlet series) by Vivek Chibber
Chapter 1 from A People’s Guide to Capitalism (PDF) by Hadas Thier
For those who prefer to listen, here is a video on YouTube of Chibber discussing the pamphlet
For those who want to read more in-depth, we also recommend:
Value, Price & Profit by Karl Marx
Here are some questions to think about as/after you read:
- What did you find most useful about the readings?
- If you think about your own workplace, is there anything that your boss has done recently that you now better understand after the readings and presentation? Or Is there something you hate about your job that you now understand better?
- What should we make of the campaign for a $15 minimum wage? Is that anti-capitalist?
- Why does your boss not mind that your neighbor is unemployed?
- Are capitalists on the same side?
- Proponents of capitalism commonly say capitalism is about freedom. What would you say to that?
- Chibber claims that a moral case can be made for parental authority, but the same cannot be done for capitalist authority. Do you think that capitalist authority is inherently unjust?
- In Marx’s time, the means of production were most often material — land, factories, raw metals, and the like. Is this concept still relevant in our digital, service-economy era?
- People who support things like Uber and the gig economy often say that it allows the employee greater freedom and flexibility. To what degree have those of you who have worked in the gig economy experienced it in that way?
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