By Mike Meyer
The irony of it is almost too much. America has finally discovered socialism. Well, at least, a version of socialism that allowed the construction of strong middle classes in many of the EU states of the last half of the twentieth century. This was pioneered in the America of the 1930’s and1940’s and actually did make America great. Unfortunately it did not survive the rise of the military-industrial complex and the first fully concerted effort to eliminate racism with the civil rights movement of the 1960's.
This type of socialism was the evolutionary product of the 19th century industrial age revolutionary movements. Those movements sought to restore authority and respect to labor as a new class of people. The authoritarian and fascist wars of the early 20th century made it clear that achieving wealth and well being for a society required balancing the costs of socialist quality of life against the raw power of capitalist market economics.
That was a tricky balancing act in a world of sovereign, 18th century style states competing for both power and money. Market economics demands efficiency and rewards greed but produces fast economic growth while social democracy (as it came to be known) ensures basic asset distribution in the form of services and raises quality of life for each generation but can limit innovation.
These things are well understood now and worked very well with the balance point being adjusted by the respective populations as each generation decided what they needed or wanted to focus on for the immediate future. The exceptions were the states prone to various evils, racism as an example, and with tendencies to totalitarianism. The two major cases were the USSR until 1990 with totalitarian communism (an early form of socialism) and the USA with totalitarian capitalism (late stage extreme capitalism) now collapsing into a kind of neofascism.
Another layer of irony is the US collapsing within thirty years of the Soviet collapse. The fact of the strong attraction between the neofascist states post collapse will probably someday be viewed as historically humorous. It does not do much for the populations of those states in the short term, however.
But the great irony is the discovery of mid twentieth century democratic socialism by the American middle class just as they are being destroyed by failure of extreme capitalism in the early twenty-first century. That this would occur just at the onset of the forced transition to sustainable economics driven by environmental collapse triggered by wild industrialization and planetary exploitation by the old collapsing systems leaves one’s mind boggled. There’s not much else that can be said.
As my father would have said, that’s a case of being a day late and a dollar short except, I think, it is a good bit more than a day and way more than a dollar. Unfortunately the delays and delusions of the totalitarian remnants has produced another level of confusion as they attempt to wage war on the past from even farther in the past. The absurdity of that is a completely different bit of mind boggling. But the supporters of their respective dictator types are not easily distracted from their hopeless and tragicomic goals.
In the tattered and beleaguered world of reality, yes, there is such a thing, the American middle class and the majority of the population’s best hope is to quickly install some solid democratic socialism to reduce the misery. The fact that this is part of the larger problem and needs to be promptly torn down and replaced is a realization that will have to wait for another day in America
Fortunately the youngest generation is working to shore things up with some new and passionate leaders. There is, at least, an outside chance that the impending human disaster in America can be partially averted by the new Democratic Socialists of America as they take over the shell of the Democratic Party.
While their is much handwringing and worrying about the use of the term socialism in any form, that is a pointless distraction. The 25% or so of the population that supports the Trump regime have no idea what any of that means and are, themselves, irrelevant. The people that matter right now have been waiting for an effective democratic or labor socialist response to old problems for a long time or are young and are not interested in yesterday’s pointless outrages.
This will probably not be able to avert the Trump attempted coup, but it can certainly provide a rallying point that is clear and committed to human well being. The Trump neofascists in all of their forms are very clearly interested only in destroying and looting whatever they can. Being clear on historically solid policies of social well being in health, education, welfare and environment are all that is needed for the great majority. Waffling is not an option at this point. That, not names, is what matters.