Richard D. Wolff
April 1, 1942 |
Youngstown, Ohio, USA
|Institution||Yale University (1967-69)
City College of New York (1969-73)
University of Massachusetts Amherst (1973-present)
The New School (2008-present)
|Field||Marxian economics; Political economy; International affairs|
School or tradition
|Alma mater||Harvard College (B.A., 1963)
Stanford University (M.A., 1964)
Yale University (M.A., 1966, 1967)
Yale University (Ph.D., 1969)
|Influences||Karl Marx; Friedrich Engels; Rosa Luxemburg;Vladimir Lenin; Antonio Gramsci; George Lukács Paul Sweezy,; Paul A. Baran; Louis Althusser; Étienne Balibar|
|Contributions||Marxian economics; economic methodology; class analysis|
Richard D. Wolff (born April 1, 1942) is an American heterodox economist, well known for his work on Marxian economics, economic methodology, and class analysis. He is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and currently a Visiting Professor in the Graduate Program in International Affairs of the New School University in New York. Wolff has also taught economics at Yale University, City University of New York, University of Utah, University of Paris I (Sorbonne), and The Brecht Forum in New York City. In 2010, Wolff published Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It, also released as a DVD. He released three new books in 2012: Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism, with David Barsamian (San Francisco: City Lights Books), Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian, with Stephen Resnick (Cambridge, MA, and London: MIT University Press), and Democracy at Work (Chicago: Haymarket Books).
Wolff hosts the weekly hour-long radio program Economic Update on WBAI, 99.5 FM, New York City (Pacifica Radio) and is featured regularly in television, print, and internet media. The New York Times Magazine has named him "America's most prominent Marxist economist." Wolff lives in Manhattan with his wife and frequent collaborator, Dr. Harriet Fraad, a practicing psychotherapist.
Early and personal life
Richard Wolff's parents were European nationals, who emigrated to the United States during the Holocaust. His father, a French lawyer working until that point in Cologne, got work in Youngstown, Ohio as a steel worker (in part because his European certification was not recognized in the United States), and the family eventually settled outside New York City. His mother was a German citizen. Wolff states that his European background influenced his world view: "[E]verything you expect about how the world works probably will be changed in your life, that unexpected things happen, often tragic things happen, and being flexible, being aware of a whole range of different things that happen in the world, is not just a good idea as a thinking person, but it’s crucial to your survival. So, for me, I grew up convinced that understanding the political and economic environment I lived in was an urgent matter that had to be done, and made me a little different from many of my fellow kids in school who didn’t have that sense of the urgency of understanding how the world worked to be able to navigate an unstable and often dangerous world. That was a very important lesson for me." Wolff's father was acquainted with Max Horkheimer. Wolff earned a BA magna cum laude in history from Harvard in 1963 and moved on to Stanford—he attained a MA in economics in 1964—to study with Paul A. Baran. Baran died prematurely from a heart attack in 1964 and Wolff transferred to Yale University, where he received a MA in economics in 1966, MA in history in 1967, and a PhD in economics in 1969. As a graduate student at Yale, Wolff worked as an instructor. His dissertation, "The Economics of Colonialism: Britain and Kenya," was eventually published in book form in 1974.
In addition to his native English, Wolff is fluent in French and German. Professor Wolff lives in New York City with his wife, Dr. Harriet Fraad, a psychotherapist. They have two adult children.
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Wolff taught at the City College of New York from 1969–1973. Here he started his lifelong collaboration with fellow economist Stephen Resnick, who arrived in 1971 after being denied tenure at Yale for signing an anti-war petition. Both would then be part, along with Samuel Bowles, Herbert Gintis, and Rick Edwards, of the "radical package" that was hired in 1973 by the Economics Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where Wolff has been full professor since 1981. Wolff retired in 2008 but remains professor emeritus and that year joined The New School as a visiting professor.
The first co-authored academic publication by Wolff and Resnick was "The Theory of Transitional Conjunctures and the Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism," which laid out the pillars of the framework that they have worked on ever since. They formulated a non-determinist, class-analytical approach for understanding the debates regarding the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Their topics have included Marxian theory and value analysis, overdetermination, radical economics, international trade, business cycles, social formations, the Soviet Union, and comparing and contrasting Marxian and non-Marxian economic theories.
Wolff's work with Resnick took Louis Althusser and Étienne Balibar's Reading Capital as its point of departure and developed a subtle reading of Karl Marx's Capital Volumes II and III in their influential Knowledge and Class. For the authors, Marxian class analysis entails the detailed study of the conditions of existences of concrete forms of performance, appropriation, and distribution of surplus labor. While there could be an infinite number of forms of surplus appropriation, the Marxist canon refers to ancient (independent), slave, feudal, capitalist, and communist class processes.
In 1989, Wolff joined efforts with a group of colleagues, ex- and then current students to launch Rethinking Marxism, an academic journal that aims to create a platform for rethinking and developing Marxian concepts and theories within economics as well as other fields of social inquiry. He continues to serve as a member of both the editorial and the advisory boards of the journal.
Wolff was a visiting professor in spring 1994 at University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne. Wolff continues to teach graduate seminars and undergraduate courses and direct dissertation research in economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and, most recently, in the graduate program in international affairs (GPIA) at The New School.
Wolff was a founding member of the Green Party of New Haven, Connecticut, and its mayoral candidate in 1985. In 2011, he called for the establishment of a broad-based left-wing mass party in the United States. Wolff, especially since 2008, gives many public lectures throughout the United States and other countries. He is regular lecturer at the Brecht Forum. Wolff is often a guest on television and radio news programs, and, within the U.S., has appeared on a variety of programs, as well as writing for a number of publications and websites. Wolff hosts a weekly radio program on economics and society, Economic Update, at WBAI in New York City.
One of his students, George Papandreou, went on to become Prime Minister of Greece from 2009 to 2011. Wolff remembers Papandreou as a student who "sought then to become both a sophisticated and a socialist economist." However, CUNY Economics professor Costas Panayotakis observed that "after being elected Greek prime minister in the fall of 2009 on a platform that excoriated austerity as the wrong kind of policy to be adopted at a time of deep economic crisis, George Papandreou has reversed himself and, faced with a debt crisis, called in the International Monetary Fund and imposed the most brutal austerity program the country has ever seen."
- Wolff, Richard D. (1974). The Economics of Colonialism. New Haven and London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-01639-5.
- Resnick, Stephen A.; Richard D. Wolff, eds. (1985). Rethinking Marxism: Essays for Harry Magdoff and Paul Sweezy. NY: Autonomedia.
- Wolff, Richard D.; Stephen A. Resnick (1987). Economics: Marxian versus Neoclassical. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. ISBN 0-8018-3479-1.
- Resnick, Stephen A.; Richard D. Wolff (1987). Knowledge and Class: A Marxian Critique of Political Economy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-71021-1.
- Fraad, Harriet; Richard Wolff; Stephen Resnick (1994). Bringing It All Back Home: Class, Gender and Power in the Modern Household. Pluto Press. ISBN 0-7453-0707-8.
- Wolff, Richard D.; Stephen Resnick; David F. Ruccio (1988). Crisis and Transitions: A Critique of the International Economic Order. Westview Press. ISBN 0-8133-0757-0.
- Gibson-Graham, J.K.; Stephen A. Resnick and Richard D. Wolff (2000). Class and Its Others. Minneapolis, MN: Minnesota University Press. ISBN 0-8166-3618-4.
- Gibson-Graham, J.K.; Stephen A. Resnick and Richard D. Wolff (2001). Re/Presenting Class: Essays in Postmodern Marxism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. ISBN 0-8223-2709-0.
- Resnick, Stephen A.; Richard D. Wolff (2002). Class Theory and History: Capitalism and Communism in the USSR. NY: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-93317-X.
- Resnick, Stephen A.; Richard D. Wolff (2006). New Departures in Marxian Theory. NY: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-77025-4.
- Wolff, Richard D. (2009). Capitalism Hits the Fan. Olive Branch Press. ISBN 1-56656-784-X.
- Wolff, Richard D.; Stephen A. Resnick (2012). Contending Economic Theories: Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0262018005.
- Wolff, Richard D. (2012). Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism. Chicago: Haymarket Books. ISBN 978-1608462476.
- Wolff, Richard D. "Wolff C.V.". Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- Extended interview with prof. Woff on how Marxism influences his work, Democracy Now!, 25 March 2013
- Wolff, Richard D. Knowledge and Class: A Marxian Critique of Political Economy, University Of Chicago Press, 15 July 1989, ISBN 978-0226710235
- "On Moyers & Company" by Richard D. Wolff, 22 February 2013
- Davidson, Adam (February 5, 2012). "It Is Safe to Resume Ignoring the Prophets of Doom ... Right?". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
- Goodman, Amy. "Democracy Now! March 25, 2013 Watch Extended Interview with Economist Richard Wolff on How Marxism Influences His Work". Pacifica Radio. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
- Wolff, Richard D. (1974). Economics of Colonialism: Britain and Kenya, 1870–1930. Yale University Press. ISBN 978-0-300-01639-0.
- Wolff, Richard D. "About Professor Richard D. Wolff". Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- Resnick, S. and Wolff, R. (1979). "The Theory of Transitional Conjunctures and the Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism," Review of Radical Political Economics, 11:3, 3–22 and 32–36.
- "Green Party of Connecticut: Election History". Connecticut Green Party. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- Wolff, Richard D. (March 13, 2011). "What's left of the American left?". The Guardian (London).
- "Economic Update - Richard D. Wolff". WBAI. Retrieved 2011-10-05.
- Interview to Greek newpapers To Vima, 24 January 2011, translated by and uploaded on RDWolff.com
- "Capitalism, Socialism, and Economic Democracy: Reflections on Today’s Crisis and Tomorrow’s Possibilities", by Costas Panayotakis, Envisioning a Post-Capitalist Order, December 2010
- Richard D. Wolff's website
- Richard D. Wolff's UMASS webpage (with Stephen A Resnick)
- Wolff's faculty profile at The New School
- Rethinking Marxism: A Journal of Economics, Culture and Society
- Democracy at Work A social movement "for greater economic democracy" co-founded by Dr. Wolff
- Richard D. Wolff at the Internet Movie Database
- Capitalism in Crisis: Richard Wolff Urges End to Austerity, New Jobs Program, Democratizing Work. Democracy Now! March 25, 2013.
- Capitalism's Stunning Contradiction. (Interview with Richard Wolff on Reality Asserts Itself). The Real News, November 11, 2014.