Sunday, December 7, 2008

Socialism for the USA

by Dennis Rahkonen

December 6th, 2008

Dissident Voice

I once saw a young boy's football roll into the street, where it was loudly flattened by a passing car. The child wept as if a family member had died. He realized life as he'd known it _ with its specific, attendant happiness - was over.

Why can't we muster a similar sense of finality concerning our popped economy?

Despite joblessness and foreclosures uncontrollably soaring, we still think capitalism has a future. The Big Three auto makers are about to go bust, states and municipalities across the country are broke, and leading retailers are shuttering their doors. Great Depression II looms. Still, we think there can be a "turnaround".

Not so, friends. We need a brand new ball, and an entirely different, safe playing field.

Well over a century ago, Karl Marx analyzed the contradictions of what we've gloriously euphemized as "free enterprise," and correctly concluded that capitalists are their own gravediggers.

They just can't stop shoveling.

Private owners of the means of production always seek to increase profit, chiefly by freezing or diminishing the wages of the laboring proletariat, i.e., you, me, and Joe Six Pack.

Ultimately, the boss gets so rich from the stolen value our toil creates, and we so commensurately poor, that we can't afford to buy back what society collectively produces.

Thus whiz-bang technological gadgets on Circuit City shelves begin to gather dust, and nobody stops by, to buy, at the local Chevrolet dealership. So it goes, throughout the dying economy.

Meanwhile, the boss-class constructs a house-of-cards financial apparatus that gets buffeted by the cross currents of a thousand and one greedy desires, and schemes, leading to an eventual collapse. Even the wealthy wind up losing their shirts.

Picture a stray dog peeing on the ruins of a city laid waste by some terrible catastrophe.

Not much more than that is the best we can hope for by clinging to the capitalist delusion.

During the awful years of the '30s, FDR thwarted socialist rebellion via the expedient of the New Deal, with its alphabetized public works programs and other initiatives that improved people's lives enough to keep them from storming oligarchy's bastions.

Still, while things got gradually better for the suffering masses, it wasn't until WWII's enormous armament production kicked in that our country finally became prosperous again.

Barack Obama may put forth a new New Deal, and the relief it would give hard-pressed Americans would be most welcome. However, there are those who feel, with strong reason, that the present crisis will be even more devastating, and longer, than the original Great Depression.

Also, Obama could turn out to be much more accommodating toward even the most reactionary part of the ruling class than we progressive would like. Instead of the big Band-Aid that a fresh New Deal would represent, maybe we'll get just a bunch of the little, essentially useless ones, applied almost haphazardly here and there.

Other questions: What if war once again emerges as the only real way to fire up the nation's manufacturing sector? Who would we fight, and at what horrendous cost across the globe? What fraudulent, immoral excuse would "justify" our action?

Wouldn't it be far better to root out the ruthless motive that drives capitalism, ultimately into the ground, as is happening today?

Why not nationalize at least the key sectors of America's economy - under popular control - and make public profit the operative factor in our country's everyday life?

Combine that with coordinated planning and time-tied national goals predicated on serving the common good, and we'd finally be getting somewhere.

You, I, and Joe Six Pack would jointly own America's productive processes, as well as the banks, and we'd all share in the abundant profit that eliminating thieves and middle men would assure.

No one would get filthy rich, but we'd all live comfortably, with guaranteed health care, education, pensions, etc.

Yes, horrified right-wingers, I'm advocating democratic socialism, something I'm certain Barack Obama is too timid at heart to ever truly embrace.

Yes again, I favor eating the wealthy to nourish the impoverished. That's far better than the rich endlessly sticking forks into workers, to perpetuate their obscenely privileged status.

Here's the most compelling case for radical, indeed revolutionary change:

General Motors is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, contending that only a government bailout and/or nullification of its labor contracts can keep it from going under.

No consideration is being shown the good men and women whose blood, sweat, and tears have created the central industrial wealth of America for decades. They're about to be served up on a sacrificial platter for GM's executives and shareholders to greedily gobble down.

If the only way capitalism can survive is by robbing taxpayers and hiring low-pay, benefit-less scabs, after unionized workers are callously cast aside, then capitalism unquestionably needs to be tossed into the scrap heap of history.

Remember, iconic GM symbolizes the American way of doing things, and any pattern it sets will be followed throughout the business community.

Must we wait for radicalizing consciousness to emerge only after we're all destitute and probably homeless?

Or will we now clean socialism of the vilifying mud that's been long thrown against it, and appreciatively recognize it as our only, true salvation?

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the '60s.