Most Americans cannot even correctly define “socialism,” yet they have been successfully propagandized into having a knee-jerk aversion to it. Trump and his conservative cohorts in attempting to retain power, are trading on this bias by painting progressives as “socialists.” Ascending political figures, mostly women such as Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez et al., who advocate public benefit at the expense of the wealthy, are — in an attempt to defame them — branded “socialists” by the right wing.
Given the importance of the 2020 presidential election, it’s essential to clarify this issue. Socialism is not the Stalinist system that sends people to a Siberian gulag for looking the wrong way. Contrarily, it is the extension of our democratic political system into the economic sphere — i.e., it advocates that people equitably share in the wealth, as they equitably share in the political realm through their vote. It is not the common man that has denigrated socialism — since he would benefit from it — but the wealthy minority that doesn’t want its wealth tampered with, and the common man has foolishly swallowed the propaganda.
The denigration of socialism is the capitalist’s cry against any redistribution of the wealth he has expropriated in quantities so great as to have effected a historical inequality. “Oxfam International reported that 26 billionaires have the same combined net worth as the poorest 3.8 billion people on the planet” (The Nation, 3/04/19).
How could a more equitable distribution of wealth be effected? Mainly through government-sponsored social programs, which is why the right-wing, advocating for the rich and primarily Republican, rails against “Big Government.” These redistributive programs could include: Medicare for all; expanded medical facilities, especially in rural areas; free public education through college; decent, low-cost housing; a living wage for an eight-hour day’s work, so a person could survive by holding only one job; guaranteed employment for those qualified and able to work; supportive retirement benefits, which would entail Social Security increases; major refurbishing of a decaying infrastructure; and vastly increased low-cost public transportation that would greatly reduce expensive automobile use and its burning of polluting fossil fuels.
Are these socialist policies? They sure are, and I’ll bet they don’t sound bad to you. They’re the very policies espoused by the progressive presidential candidates, who promote the brand while dodging the “socialist” branding — except for Bernie Sanders, who is too honest to reject it.
The conservatives, in clinging to their capitalist pocketbooks, raise the question as to where the money will come from in order to implement these programs. And the obvious answer is that it will come from those very bulging pocketbooks through taxation, which will simultaneously level the grossly uneven playing field. Since the majority of Americans favor this, progressive political aspirants needn’t be so circumspect in avoiding the socialist label.
The consciousness of today’s younger population has not been formed by the anti-socialist “Cold War” propaganda that has distorted the thinking of the older generation. To the young, socialism is ironically being purified by capitalist turgidity!
Andrew Torre is a Londonderry resident.