[ExI] Opinions on Capitalism vs. Socialism

Damien Broderick 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 
week, anyway.

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 
once inspired.

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 
<http://www.thedailybeast.com/author/benjamin-sarlin/>Daily Beast, 
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 
in America.

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