Friday, November 07, 2008

Socialist America

As I read through people's "status updates" on Facebook I can't help but giggle to myself at people's reactions to the recent election. Of course some are very happy but others are completely afraid and anxious and it seems that the number one buzz word among those who are afraid of where America is going is the word "socialism." I can't help but think that a real socialist would be somewhat offended that Americans would lump them into the same category as President-Elect Barack Obama who is very much a capitalist who might have some sense of Socialist philosophy.

People are afraid of Socialism when it is in fact Capitalism which America has suffered from most throughout its history. Many of the sad stories of oppression in American history, especially recent history (remember the community garden in ls Angeles which was destroyed), are stories of when Capitalism reaches its' extreme not Socialism. We've seen "big business" grow enormously and middle class slowly shrink to lower class. We've seen the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, but nobody seems to have any anxiety over that. No, they're afraid of Socialism of which they can tell very few stories in American History (not that extreme Socialism isn't bad).

The American economic system is not, in fact, a Capitalist system... it is a hybrid capitalism-Socialist system. This reality is apparent when you take a glance at public schools and public libraries. Shouldn't you have to pay to use a public restroom...? Everything that is is owned by someone in America and if we truly believed in Capitalism there would be no "public" anything because everything should be about competition and turning profit. We are a system of Capitalism and Socialism and our system has worked well when we have not swerved too far toward either extreme.

We have danced with full-blown Capitalism, we've seen its' destructive extreme, yet people are more afraid of Socialism. Ironic.

Nobody wants the pendulum to swing to any extreme but perhaps we should be less concerned about becoming Socialist and more concerned with softening our extreme Capitalism.

4 comments:

Brittany said...

Wes,
Great post. This is exactly how I feel. I don't understand why people are so afraid of Socialism...in the past our more socialistic policies have done us quite well in a poor economy (the New Deal!). I think you are completely right when you say that we should be more concerned with softening our extreme capitalism because it is that which destroys the economy most of the time.

WES ELLIS said...

Brittany,
good of you to mention "The New Deal," people forget about that and other similar situations. "Spreading the wealth" is only necessary in situations of economic struggle.

Danny said...

Sometimes I wonder if people understand what true capitalism is. I have a link on my blog somewhere recently from Peter Hornberger who talks about why American Education is socialist in nature and it is enlightening. Our alternative would be to have companies creating education and people paying for it out of their pocket.

Sometimes I think this would work better because only those whose families really valued education would take part in it. I know this might leave out those who couldn't afford it, but it's worth thinking about.

mapmaker said...

I enjoyed your post... and i must say that i wish you were closer and we could have conversations about these things in person. i miss those times! I too have wondered my the label "socialist!" is coming up so much. Although I do understand a certain fear of socialist policy... personally, all the billions of dollars the government has spent to bail corporations out (in my opinion, the most extreme socialist thing this country has done) is only going to cause more problems... I am always interested in discussions about the "New Deal". I am not going to say that it did no good at all (because it did), but what brought the United States out of the depression was WWII (more jobs for the war effort). Although I pray that another war will not bring us out of this financial crisis (its quite apparent that this war in Iraq has put us more in the TANK!!!), it seems to me that our country's economy does not respond best to forced policy (aka real socialist policy), but perhaps by chance. I do not see Obama as a socialist, and I do understand capitalism taken too far is very bad (in 2000 Congress passed a law that would allow betting on the stock market... one of the reasons we're in the mess we're in now). Just some thoughts.... I'm not negating what you're saying, just maybe doing what i do too often. devils advocate. please comment.