Wednesday, December 31, 2008

why i am a socialist

I could not have said it any better; actually, I couldn't have said it nearly as well. Chris Hedges, at Truthdig, sums it up for me.

“Large sections of the middle class are being gradually proletarianized; but the important point is that they do not, at any rate not in the first generation, adopt a proletarian outlook,” Orwell wrote in 1937 during the last economic depression. “Here I am, for instance, with a bourgeois upbringing and a working-class income. Which class do I belong to? Economically I belong to the working class, but it is almost impossible for me to think of myself as anything but a member of the bourgeoisie. And supposing I had to take sides, whom should I side with, the upper class which is trying to squeeze me out of existence, or the working class whose manners are not my manners? It is probable that I, personally, in any important issue, would side with the working class. But what about the tens or hundreds of thousands of others who are in approximately the same position? And what about that far larger class, running into millions this time—the office-workers and black-coated employees of all kinds—whose traditions are less definite middle class but who would certainly not thank you if you called them proletarians? All of these people have the same interests and the same enemies as the working class. All are being robbed and bullied by the same system. Yet how many of them realize it? When the pinch came nearly all of them would side with their oppressors and against those who ought to be their allies. It is quite easy to imagine a working class crushed down to the worst depths of poverty and still remaining bitterly anti-working-class in sentiment; this being, of course, a ready-made Fascist party.”

Coalitions of environmental, anti-nuclear, anti-capitalist, sustainable-agriculture and anti-globalization forces have coalesced in Europe to form and support socialist parties. This has yet to happen in the United States. The left never rallied in significant numbers behind Cynthia McKinney or Ralph Nader. In picking the lesser of two evils, it threw its lot in with a Democratic Party that backs our imperial wars, empowers the national security state and does the bidding of corporations.

If Barack Obama does not end the flagrant theft of taxpayer funds by corporate slugs and the disgraceful abandonment of our working class, especially as foreclosures and unemployment mount, many in the country will turn in desperation to the far right embodied by groups such as Christian radicals. The failure by the left to offer a democratic socialist alternative will mean there will be, in the eyes of many embittered and struggling working- and middle-class Americans, no alternative but a perverted Christian fascism. The inability to articulate a viable socialism has been our gravest mistake. It will ensure, if this does not soon change, a ruthless totalitarian capitalism.

The fact of so many in this country consistently voting against their own economic self interest is infuriating and baffling. Unified, working people would be unbeatable. There are far more of us than there are of the corporate elite. Together never happens, though, because we're constantly at each each other's throats over issues less critical than survival. At the moment, I am stuck in security mode on Maslow's heirarchy, and I can't even think about anything else but the economy and what might happen in the next year, and the increasingly onerous burden of health care. Europe's progressives are winning hearts and minds. Maybe here too, one day. Probably too late.

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Anonymous Mark H said...

we first heard Christopher Hedges at a book signing...LOVE his work. THANKS for this snapshot, I hadn't read it. We HOPE your new year began warm and well, cozy and happy. I, for one, think a socialist revolution is about all that would save this country.

January 01, 2009 3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAve you ever taken a course on economics? Seriously. I don't mean to be callous, but you have about a 1st graders comprehension of it. Go read some, and then start talking about it. Until then, you've really just embarrassed yourself.

January 05, 2009 4:34 PM  
Blogger BigAssBelle said...

oh go fuck yourself, brave anonymous.

January 05, 2009 9:36 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

Fear. All I can come up with is fear. The reason that McCain and That Woman got any traction with their "Marxist" name-calling was because the have-very-littles are taught (very insidiously) to believe that having a democracy with an even more progressive tax code will hurt them, too.

How much more clear can Obama and other Democrats be in terms of stating that direct taxation would not increase for households making under $200K-$250K? It doesn't matter because either they believe it's a lie or something else.... maybe they believe that all of a sudden they and their spouses are going to strike it rich with a FAT pay raise and be pushed into that $250K-plus demographic? Though how likely is that?

You know, I just don't understand it, either. Of course a bigger tax withholding doesn't thrill me, but maybe it's something people need to understand better? Or maybe they need to really believe they're getting something in return for their tax dollars? A friend of mine always says that her Norwegian friends (who I got to meet this past Spring) always talk about how their taxes are quite high but that they are happy to pay every penny. I'm not sure if that's bullshit talking, but it's very different from the way people feel about taxes here, that's for sure.

I actually don't think we do a good job at disseminating information about where our tax dollars go. If you asked people to take a quiz about what percentage they think is allocated to different items, I'm sure most people -- including myself -- would fail miserably.

January 06, 2009 3:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Europe's progressives are winning hearts and minds? You're wrong there: Europe has been in a free-market spiral for the last decade, actually. Did you know most of Europe actually has lower corporate taxes than America now? IT would be nice if it were true, but you're just wrong on that front.

January 08, 2009 5:54 PM  
Anonymous macmarine said...

Europe has been in a free-market spiral for the last decade?

Well, having lived over here in Europe for the last decade I can testify to that. But what you forgot to mention is the fact that it's been a DOWNWARD SPIRAL for almost everyone save the upper 3% of society.

Here in Germany there have been record numbers of bankruptcies, mass-layoffs (many thanks to the unchecked activities of predatory anglo-american hedgefonds), ongoing destruction of the middle class, meltdown of the public healthcare and education systems.

Many people have two low-wage jobs and still have to apply for welfare money just to pay their utility bills. There are many retirees that can't afford to pay the ever rising prices for e.g. power, heating and medications. So they now have the new freedom to choose between not eating, freezing or stopping to buy their prescription meds.

Just what you would expect from letting the Chicago school free market bullshitters run amok.

January 17, 2009 1:36 PM  

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