American Socialism

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1865: Karl Marx (1818-1883), philosopher and German politician. (Photo by Roger Viollet Collection/Getty Images)

Positive views of socialism appear to be on the rise here in the United States. The economic downturn during the Coronavirus pandemic might be making it more popular. However, Americans across the board don’t have a great idea of what socialism means, so its popularity might depend on how people are asked. And of course, media likes to divide that popularity along arbitrary generational lines.

Socialism is more popular the younger Americans get.

I’ve read a bunch of excuses for why this happens from pundits supporting blind capitalism. Younger generations are clueless. Young Americans didn’t grow up fearing communism. The list goes on.

They can’t seem to grasp that pro-Capitalist politicians have shit on the two youngest generations twice. People have lost jobs, gone into educational debt, seen their friends die to prescription painkillers, gone into medical debt, witnessed police violence against unarmed victims, and the list goes on. And on. And on.

In other words, the shift in perception on socialism (or socialist policies) is a surprise only to the deluded. And even that is eroding. No matter how hard the former president tried to label his opponent as a dirty, evil socialist, that opponent still won. By an appreciable margin.

Even my views have changed on the matter.

I am old enough to remember the tensions at the end of the Cold War. I lived in West Germany as the Berlin Wall fell. I remember the blatant obliviousness to world affairs when I came back to the United States. At the time, it shocked me that people could outright ignore an adversary such as the USSR, with its alien economics and its intimidating army.

Two GOP-incited economic crises later, and the idea that socialism isn’t communism finally sunk in. I haven’t forgotten the Cold War, or the fear it inspired, but I can’t let outdated fears eclipse modern crises. And I’m not alone.

Socialism – economics that rely on public control of making stuff – has worked in some countries. Socialist health services appear to flourish no matter how hard right-wing extremist politicians lie about them. I figure if it can survive the propaganda, it’s strong enough to survive conservative Twitter.

More than that, I think the American public needs to have more viable socialist alternatives. Pro-capitalist pundits often brag that capitalism thrives on competition. Why not have it compete against people willing to organize under socialist business entities? Hell, to make things spicy, require the socialist companies to pay back any publicly invested money with interest.

Speculation aside, I am more interested in alternatives to enriching people who already have a shitload of money. That interest is tempered with the knowledge that socialism won’t magically fix anything. But it can fix some things. Ignoring this won’t make it go away.

It’s not going away.

The shift in public attitudes towards socialism is only going to get more pronounced as time passes. Even now, with socialism still feared by a majority of Americans, the label didn’t stop Biden from getting elected. And he’s not even a socialist.

In a few years, as long as voting isn’t interfered with too dramatically (it breaks my heart to have to write that), I expect to see more candidates running under openly socialist platforms. Yeah, I’ll see fearmongering where I live, but it’s not going to stop what’s happening. If everyone is lucky, we’ll see something like the New Deal.

If not? I hate to consider the possibility.

5 thoughts on “American Socialism

  1. I think most Americans have no idea what socialism is. No one, and I mean no one, is recommending that we adopt a socialist structure for our government. The debate has always been as to what responsibilities are individual and which are collective. We are perfectly happy with national defense being a collective responsibility? Does that make us socialist? No.

    If we were to make universal healthcare available to all Americans, would that make us socialist? No.

    The debate has been poisoned by people slinging epithets. Back in the 1950s anytime someone said something a person didn’t like, they were accused of being a communist. Nowadays they are accused of being a socialist. Atheists who worship nothing are called devil worshippers. Why? Because the accusers lack imagination.

    The discussion of whether socialism is acceptable to the young or not is beside the point. That proposition is not on the table. What is on the table is a minimum wage that is also a living wage. Universal healthcare is on the table. Climate change action is on the table. Proper use of energy is on the table. Discussion on other topics only favor the people who are heavily profiting from the status quo as it makes any change less likely.

    Liked by 3 people

    • The reason I brought up perceptions in socialism is to highlight the actual increase in demand for action on the issues you raised (as well as others, like police reform). It’s relevant to the latest batch of conservative propaganda that seeks to repaint conservatives as the victims of the left, all while forcibly keeping an increasing majority away from achieving change.

      Admittedly, I probably am more sensitive to right-wing garbage. The fact that they can clutch their fucking pearls and scream discrimination over a failed coup really gets my goat and rides it around the room.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Even my views have changed on the matter.”

    So have mine, and I think that’s a good thing/sign.

    There is a middle ground, in between extreme socialism (i.e. Communist iron-fist rule) and extreme capitalism, the latter which, along with increasingly potent corporate lobbyism, is what’s especially occurring in Canada and the U.S. But with the momentum of the growing wealth gap and big business gaining greater advantage over the worker, I don’t see how very much can be realistically changed by the working class and poor, even through a social pendulum shift.

    Unlike a few social/labor revolutions of the past, notably the Bolshevik and French revolutions, it seems to me that contemporary Western world’s virtual corporate rule and superfluously wealthy essentially have the police and military ready to foremost protect big power and money interests, even over the food and shelter needs of the protesting masses. It could be excused as busting heads to maintain law and order as a priority. Thus the absurdly unjust inequities and inequalities can persist.

    Meanwhile, whenever a public person simply openly desires an actual livable wage for all, world peace and/or a pristinely green global economy and natural environment, theological fundamentalists immediately react with the presumption that he/she must therefore be Godless and, by extension, evil and/or (far worse) a socialist!

    Those doubting the powerful persuasion of huge business interests need to consider how high-level elected governing officials can become crippled by implicit or explicit corporate threats to transfer or eliminate jobs and capital investment, thus economic stability, all of which is being made even worse by a blaring news-media naturally critical of incumbent governments. Also concerning is that corporate representatives actually write bills for our governing representatives to vote for and have implemented, typically word for word, supposedly to save the elected officials their time. …

    I recall the memorable words of the morbidly greedy Gordon Gekko character (Wall Street, 1987) to his protégé Bud Fox: “Now you’re not naive enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you, Buddy? It’s the free market, and you’re part of it. Yeah, you got that killer instinct. Stick around pal, I still got a lot to teach you.”

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  3. If people understood what socialism is, the philosophy behind, how it’s been used in past and current nations, they would push it as far as they could. Socialism requires someone, some entity, some over-riding decision makers to make the decisions for everyone else, and it’s always done as the cost of lives. _**Regarding Communism, which is further down the socialist road, I encourage people to read : Read: “Brainwashing: A Synthesis of the Russian Textbook of Psychopolitics.”

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