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Socialism Rising

Don Rose 6 September 2018 One Comment

Labor Day message:

    Poll after poll shows us that “socialism” is no longer a wipeout political scare-word, especially among younger generations (I hate the term “millennials” and other catchwords for different age-groupings). The word “capitalism” doesn’t make them want to jump up and salute either.

    Clearly the widespread appeal of Bernie Sanders a professed “democratic socialist,” is a major contributing factor.

Socialist_Party_Eugene_Debs_1904_campaign_poster

    Another indicator is the huge jump in membership of the Democratic Socialists of America, several of whose members or endorsees won upset victories in recent primary elections– notably  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who swamped a powerhouse New York Democratic congressman. (In 1973 the late socialist leader Michael Harrington founded the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee to create a “socialist presence” in the Democratic Party. DSOC merged with the New American Movement in 1982 to form DSA.)

    For decades much of America didn’t know the difference between socialism and the dreaded “communism.” Liberal Democrats ran from the word even with “democratic” appended  in order to distinguish itself from  the authoritarianism of Soviet socialism (which many of us called “state capitalism”).  Heck–many ran from the term “liberal.”

   After folks recognized the stupidity of the Vietnam war, which was supposed to halt the spread of communism, and after the fall of the Soviet Union, it became “safer” to mention socialism, particularly as it pertained to universal, single-payer health care. The epithet “socialized medicine” lost its scariness.

   We could point out that some of our most treasured programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are socialist. We could note that Franklin Roosevelt  promoted socialist legislation to save capitalism. We could show that throughout the developed world citizens had one or another form of universal health care–and that thriving Scandinavian nations had democratic  forms of socialist government.

    So, without going into a detailed, convoluted history of the Socialist Party and it many tributaries in the USA–of which there were and are still many–I want to go over a few of the general goals of those socialists who have chosen to work inside the Democratic Party–which will explain their  appeal to younger people and an increasing number of their elders.

    Foremost is the aforementioned universal, single-payer health-care program–sometimes spoken of as Medicare for all. Back in Bill Clinton’s day single-payer was disavowed, as it was under Obama. Obamacare (ACA) was a jerry-rigged substitute, imperfect, but helpful and remarkably popular. Today single-payer is on the verge of dogma for Democrats whether they use the word socialist or not.

    Another basic goal is abolishing poverty and closing the horrendous gap of income inequality. Step one in this direction is increasing the minimum wage to $15. That, admittedly, is but a baby step toward the goal which will involve strengthening unions,  increasing regulation of Wall Street–and perhaps a guaranteed  minimum income.

    Not to rank the issue third, but clearly a main goal is full civil and voting rights for all people, regardless of color, race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality. Restoring the crippled Voting Right Act is preeminent.

    Internationally, it’s getting out of and avoiding more stupid wars.

    There’s our start toward socialism. Anyone scared?

**
Don Rose is a regular columnist for the Chicago Daily Observer

 

One Comment »

  • John Powers said:

    Pretty much every bankrupt program, such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are socialist. They have failed miserably and created a debt time bomb that we may never recover from.

    Privately run programs were pushed aside because voters were promised something for nothing, which was not true. Now our deficit is largely made of the runaway social programs forced on the taxpayers by political panderers.

    If this is the best we could do, I’ll say we should be very scared of the socialism being forced upon us.

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