Video: MHI Panel for the REAL LEFT-Forum–The Poverty of Populism: a Marxist-Humanist Critique of Redistributionist Politics

by MHI

Marxist-Humanist Initiative (MHI) presents its presentations and discussion that were originally scheduled for the Left Forum 2020 conference, which was cancelled due to the COVID-19 crisis. We call these two panels “The REAL LEFT-Forum.” This panel focuses on the issue of wealth inequality and our critique of redistributionist politics. Our second panel is entitled “Marxist-Humanist Perspectives on the Life-and-Death Battle Against Trumpism.” This panel was recorded remotely on July 31, 2020.


“The Poverty of Populism: a Marxist-Humanist Critique of Redistributionist Politics”

The panelists and their presentations are (in order, with timestamps):

  • Andrew Kliman: “Wealth Inequality in the U.S.: Its Level, Trend, and Significance” (4:07)
  • Brendan Cooney: “Marx, Proudhonism, and Redistributionism” (24:48)
  • David Matchett: “The Limits of Redistributive State Action: Marx’s Analysis of the Silesian Weavers’ Uprising” (42:55)
  • Chair: Eric Andrian

The video includes opening remarks by the chair of the session, the panelists’ presentations, and comments by the panelists (54:54) on each other’s presentations.

In the panel, Andrew Kliman summarizes his February 17, 2020 article “Wealth Inequality in the U.S.,” focusing on the massive level of wealth inequality that is endemic to capitalism and critically engaging with anti-neoliberal, left-populist claims that inequality of wealth in the U.S. has skyrocketed under neoliberalism. The other panelists look at Marx’s own writings on redistribution of wealth and income, and they call into question the redistributionist politics associated with claims that wealth inequality has skyrocketed. Brendan Cooney discusses the roots of redistributionism in Proudhon’s work and explains how and why Marx criticized it. David Matchett shows that Marx had already begun to separate himself from redistributionist politics in his 1844 critique of “The King of Prussia and Social Reform.” All three speakers contrast redistributionist policies to the needed abolition of capitalism.


Listen to a Discussion of this Panel

On August 9, 2020, MHI recorded a discussion among a few members, supporters, and friends of the organization about these papers.


We strongly encourage you to post comments on the video below this article and to engage in a dialogue with us. We hope you’ll also watch our other panel too.

You may also be interested in the Left Forum panels we put on last year, which you can find here.


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