America Is Already Socialist, And That’s a Good Thing

| Educate!

Above Photo: Andreas Adelmann/Flickr

During Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech, many of the old, white, Republican Senators and Representatives must have gotten more exercise than in weeks, jumping to their feet to applaud almost every sentence of the endless rhetoric.

One of the moments that got the loudest applause was Trump’s attempt to blame progressive Democrats for the problems of the current Venezuelan government, proclaiming the U.S. “will never be a socialist country” to a loud standing ovation from Republicans (and too many Democrats) and chants of “USA, USA, USA.”

Like so much of Trump’s speech, the statement was false. I have news for the Donald: The United States—like every other country with an advanced economy, such as the U.K., Germany, France, and Japan—is already a partly socialist country, with a mixed economy and many government programs that serve the public good.

By this defintion, Social Security is a “socialist” program: it’s a government-run pension system that cuts out private money managers. Medicare – a single-payer, government-run health insurance program for those over 65 – is too. Medicare-For-All would simply extend this to the rest of the population.

The minimum wage, maximum hour, and child labor laws that go back over a century are likewise “socialist” programs, in that the government intervenes in the capitalist market to require employers to meet minimum standards that might not be met in a pure, unregulated “free” market. Agricultural and energy subsidies are likewise socialist programs. I could go on and on.

Stripped of the Red-baiting and name-calling, the real debate isn’t between capitalism vs. socialism, but about the appropriate balance between the two.

Conservatives want to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits and reduce the numbers who qualify, while progressives want to increase and expand these programs.  Many progressives want to move towards a Medicare system covering all Americans, not just those over 65 (“Medicare for All”) while centrist Democrats want to protect the ACA which is a hybrid between private insurance and government insurance and regulation, and conservatives want to go back to the all-private system which pre-dated the ACA.

The government already supports higher education (that’s socialism) but progressives want to make a public college education free or debt-free.  Conservatives support government subsidies for agriculture and the oil energy (that’s socialism) while many progressives believe this is “reverse welfare” for the rich and want to reduce them.

Under the headline, “Most Young Americans Prefer Socialism to Capitalism” CNBC reported on a Gallup poll this summer showing that millennials are more favorable to the socialist side than the capitalist side of the equation. with 51% having a positive view of socialism and only 47% having a positive view of capitalism.

That’s why the election to Congress of New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other young progressives – many of them women, who dressed in dramatic white at the State of the Union, which spoke louder than Trump’s words – represents a generational political and cultural change that will likely transform the country.

Unlike their parents and grandparents, these young progressives were children, or not yet born, when the Red-baiting of the Cold War made socialism a dirty word.

Trump’s false proclamation that America “will never be a socialist country” was an attempt to resurrect the McCarthyite red-baiting of his childhood in order to put his thumb on the capitalist side of the scale favored by the oligarchs in the ongoing debate over how much socialism and how much socialism America should have.

With a rising generation viewing greater socialism sympathetically, in the long-run this is a losing strategy. AOC and her colleagues–not Donald Trump and old, white Republican politicians–represent the future.

  • jemcgloin

    If you read the Constitution it is far more compatible with socialism than capitalism. The owners of capital keep corrupting the Constitution because it cuts into profits.
    Between the Republicans who attack the Constitution constantly, and centrist Democrats who just do what Republicans tell them to do, our Constitution is being regularly undermined.
    Now that the American People, especially the young are figuring this out, the fake corporate “center,” he collapsed, the parties are in flux, and the left has an opportunity to make policy.
    It seems that it is possible for socialists to take over the Democratic Party. This opportunity, even though it may fail, should not be squandered. If everyone that considers themselves a socialist organized to make the Democratic Party the Party of the People, instead of the other party of the rich, we could do real good for real humans who are struggling, day in day out.
    A way to make the socialist message more palatable to those who have been taught but corporate media to fear the word, is to concentrate on the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution calls for Justice, tranquility, defense (not global offense), promoting the GENERAL WELFARE (not the particular welfare of billionaires), etc.
    The Constitution is a left Ddocumen, continuously attacked by the right. Starting from scratch is more likely to be hijacked by capitalism thth demanding adherence to the Constitution.
    I have no problem promoting socialism. It’s Trump wants to attack it, I say, bring it on.
    But the Constitution is the glue that hold the country together and that most people can get behind no matter their ideology.

    Reclaim the Constitution, take back the Democratic Party, and implement Justice to promote the general welfare.

  • subcomandante Felix

    If America is “socialist” then the word like rest of the English language no longer has any meaning. This is exactly why i loathe the English language. The English language has been used to spread more filth, lies, propaganda, misinformation, hate than all the other languages combined. Language is the fundamental bond that ties societies together. Speakers and writers of English from throughout the political spectrum have so sullied the language that its words no longer have any meaning and it now functions to tear society apart. P.S.
    – it disgusts me to even write this comment but i unfortunately i don’t know any other.

  • chetdude

    And we’re not going to win with statements like this one:

    “Many progressives want to move towards a Medicare system covering all Americans, not just those over 65 (“Medicare for All”) while centrist Democrats want to protect the ACA which is a hybrid between private insurance and government insurance and regulation”

    If you had qualified it by saying “many progressive LEGISLATORS” and “Corporate-controlled Democrat LEGISLATORS”, you would have been accurate. But the statement made is egregiously misleading.

    In the REAL world that is ignored by most legislators (while the needs and desires of their major campaign bribers are realized and fulfilled), the VAST majority of Democrat USAmericans, majority of independents and even a majority of Republican USAmericans want Expanded and Improved Medicare for All (NIMA).

    NIMA is a WINNER if the democrat “leadership” can find a way to reject their owners and embrace what the people need and want.

  • chetdude

    “If you read the Constitution it is far more compatible with socialism than capitalism”

    Ah, that’s very true.

    “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union (vibrant Community), establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” should definitely lead to Socialism***

    But only if we ignore the fact that to the Founders (and current elites) “We the People” in the Constitution really means – “We the elite, (now mostly white), (still mostly) male property owners” who are the only ones who matter.

    It’s up to a massive, militant Popular Movement to force the extension of that goal to We, ALL of the People.

    All of the enabling legislation that followed and is still operative is designed to protect and enhance the wealth and privileges of that small minority in the Owner Class.

    *** Socialism is Worker and Community (THE PEOPLE’S) OWNERSHIP of the means of production coupled with democratic processes for decision making that allows the people to achieve consensus about where, when and what to produce, how much and how to do it along with how to fairly and equally distribute what’s produced.

  • ANTONIO

    JUST TO BE CLEAR;SOCIALISM puts an end to exploitation. Working people are organized as the ruling class. Banks, Railways, communications, shipping, large agribusiness and industrial corporations, the military, will all belong to the people, who will decide policy by means of meeting halls, Internet, press, radio and TV. The work week is reduced, with annual paid vacations, free hotels and spas, free medical care, free education including university, culture by and for the people, equality for women in economic, cultural and political life, child care centers. Unemployment is done away with, trade unions assure that workers cannot be fired, the State pays pensions and disability compensation, there is a distribution of housing so that homelessness is done away with, rent is less than 5% of income, all debts are canceled. War propaganda will be outlawed, as will war itself. Poverty will be ended with the recovery of the vast resources now wasted in war production, corporate profits and the extravagant lifestyles of the filthy rich. Production increases, science and technology are advanced, and the environment is protected. With capitalism gone, crime will begin to disappear. It is the profit system that corrupts and breeds crime.
    WE ARE STILL ALONG WAY FROM THIS

  • jemcgloin

    Yes, and We can use the Amendment Process to make it happen. We have done it before.

  • chetdude

    Not since 1964 (eliminating poll tax) – which has been effectively bypassed since.

  • jemcgloin

    The Supreme Court has also been abusing the 14th Amendment for over 130 years to make corporations into humans. The only way to solve that problem is with a new Amendment to make clear to then that corporations are not people and money is not speech.

    Fighting corruption never ends. In some distant future utopia, they will still be fighting corruption.

    But if we abandon the Constitution it will not be replaced with a socialist utopia but with Trump Empire Inc.

    Americans have been politically lazy since the sixties as things were pretty good for many. Note the left is active again. Including the Bill of Rights we have averaged less than ten years per Amendment, so we have some catching up to do.

  • jemcgloin

    Massive, militant popular movements ended slavery, got women the vote, ended child labor, created the forty hour week, and made everyone born here a citizen.
    We can use build more movements top spread now power out and down.

    Trump is helping to energize the left right now. Let’s not squander the opportunity.

  • chetdude

    “Fighting corruption never ends” <– True.

  • jemcgloin

    Yes Trump ran on “beautiful healthcare and education for everyone” beating Clinton who ran on “no we can’t.”

  • chetdude

    BINGO!

  • jemcgloin

    People lie in every language .

    As far as socialism, I read the collected works of Marx twice looking for his plan, and there wasn’t one. Socialism is critique of capitalism and a prediction that repeated crises of capitalism would create repeated worker based movements that would, over time, result in the worker running the economy. (It sounded to me like he was talking about hundreds of years.)
    The history of the USA seems to bear this out, with worker movements creating unions, the forty hour week and weekends, worker safety regulations, the minimum wage, benefits, etc.
    Have we gone backwards for a long time? Certainly. Have the reversals created crises of Capitalism? Certainly. Have these crises created new worker movements? I would say yes and if we surround Trunk there will be more reforms.

    Read the Constitution of the United States of America. Capitalism wasn’t a word with it was written and the word appears no where in it. Instead it demands that Congress tax and regulate trade to pay for Justice, tranquility, defence, the general welfare, liberty, and posterity. It was one of the first documents to enumerate rights to protect individuals from the power of government. Is was used to end slavery (the main economic engine for ten thousand years) and make women full citizens.

    The right-wing has been attacking the Constitution since the day it was ratified, trying to weaken its provisions and re-purpose it for injustice, violent policing, global offense, the particular welfare of the mega-rich, liberty for a few, and posterity measured by quarterly reports.
    It is human nature that power corrupts and the rest of us need to fight that corruption daily.
    But the U.S. Constitution is far more compatible with socialism than capitalism (which is actually the manipulation of markets and government to enrich the owners of capital) and the more the left attacks the Constitution, instead of demanding adherence to it, the more the left helps the rich undermine justice and the general welfare.

    The Constitution is something that unites Americans and can be used to help workers move toward socialism. It is in danger of being shredded by the Party of Trump, but that also presents an opportunity for We the People to more faithfully enforce it.

  • subcomandante Felix

    Read Charles A Beard, “An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the U.S.. The Constitution was created by rich, white, land and slave owning men to maintain their power, wealth and privilege. It is a capitalist document par excellence, that establishes a legal and governing system based on private property NOT human rights. The only human rights provisions, the so-called “Bill of Rights” was added as an afterthought to offer a narrow set of political rights, instituted mainly to minimize the rich preying on each other, rather than on “we the people.” as the Constitution intended.