[ExI] Opinions on Capitalism vs. Socialism
thespike at satx.rr.com
Wed Apr 15 20:04:22 UTC 2009
Another [ironic] perspective:
Rush Builds A Revolution
By Harold Meyerson
Wednesday, April 15, 2009; A19
According to a
poll released last week, 37 percent of Americans under age 30 prefer
capitalism, 33 percent prefer socialism and 30 percent are undecided.
Among all Americans, 53 percent prefer capitalism, 20 percent prefer
socialism and 27 percent are undecided.
How's that again?
If you comb the annals of Americans' ideological preferences, you
won't find figures like these. At socialism's apogee, presidential
candidate Eugene V. Debs got 6 percent of the vote in the 1912
election. After that, it was pretty much all downhill -- until last
Or consider this: In the first two decades of the 20th century, and
again in the 1930s, there were substantial American socialist
organizations that argued the case against capitalism. I recently
came across some issues of a magazine that the League for Industrial
Democracy, a group affiliated with the Socialist Party, published
during the early '30s on the crises of capitalism and unemployment.
Among its regular contributors were John Dewey and Reinhold Niebuhr.
Today, America is home to no substantial socialist organizations, and
virtually no public figures champion socialism's cause.
So where do these numbers come from? Rasmussen didn't provide any
data that clarify causality, but I think it's safe to infer that the
havoc that Wall Street has wreaked upon the world over the past year
and its reliance on American taxpayers to bail it out haven't exactly
helped capitalism's cause.
But there's more to these numbers. For one thing, they signal that
the link between socialism and anti-Americanism has been weakened
and, among the young, all but destroyed. The end of Soviet communism
has meant that the United States no longer has a major adversary that
professes to be socialist. The one remaining powerful Communist
Party, China's, has opted for a capitalist economy. The violent
threats to America today come from a branch of Islamic
fundamentalists who wage war on all forms of modernity, socialism
among them. And the actual existing socialists today are the social
democrats who govern or are the chief opposition parties in Western
Europe -- home to the nations with which we are most closely allied.
The Soviet Union's collapse is surely responsible for some of the
variations by age group that turn up in Rasmussen's polling:
Thirty-somethings, while not quite so socialistic as 20-somethings,
remain decidedly cooler on capitalism than their elders. The Left
Bank of the Seine doesn't quite convey the terror that Stalin's gulag
Moreover, those Americans opting for socialism are doing so when
socialists themselves aren't calling for, and don't believe in, the
kind of revolutionary transformations -- the abolition of wage labor,
say -- for which their forebears routinely campaigned in the days of
Debs and the Depression. Today, the world's socialist and social
democratic parties basically champion a more social form of
capitalism, with tighter regulations on capital, more power for labor
and an expanded public sector to do what the private sector cannot
(such as providing universal access to health care).
Which means there are real areas of overlap between European social
democracy and American liberalism: The former has defined its Eden
down to a form of social capitalism, while the latter, prompted by
Wall Street's implosion, has upgraded its project to the creation of,
well, a form of social capitalism. Doctrinal differences persist, but
these overlaps certainly underpin Rasmussen's polling: While
Republicans preferred capitalism to socialism 11 to 1, Democrats
favored it by 39 percent to 30 percent.
The data on the young are particularly telling. Twenty-somethings are
more open to socialism -- or social capitalism -- than 30-somethings
not only because they never lived through the Soviet threat but
because the economy, during the years in which deregulatory policy
and Wall Street financialization were at their height, hasn't worked
very well for them. Americans under 29 scored well to the left of the
general public in
recent survey by the Center for American Progress, and voters under
30 backed Barack Obama by a 34-point margin in November, 66 percent
to 32 percent.
The young may now disdain Wall Street -- but what do they know of
socialism, past and present? Who even speaks of socialism in America
today? The answer, of course, is the demagogic right. According to
Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck and their ilk, Obama is
taking America down the Socialist Road. As Benjamin Sarlin has noted
on the Web site the
the talkmeisters of the right have linked a doctrine that never
commanded much support in America to a president whose approval
rating hovers around 60 percent and much higher than that among the young.
Rush and his boys are doing what Gene Debs and his comrades never
really could. In tandem with Wall Street, they are building socialism
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