In an article distributed by “Truthout” today, Eleanor J. Bader, a teacher, freelance writer and activist from Brooklyn, NY, makes this observation:
It’s obvious that if you repeat something often enough, in an authoritative voice, listeners will begin to believe what you say. That’s the theory behind both advertising and conservative media.
The oft-repeated barrage of verbal assaults lobbed at Barack Obama – that he’s a commie/foreigner/infidel/Nazi – confirm this. Indeed, an April 2010 CBS/NY Times poll found that 52 percent of Americans believe that the president is moving the U.S. toward socialism, something they clearly regard as bad, and maybe even dangerous, for the U.S. and its people. What’s more, The Huffington Post reported in February that 78 percent of Republican leaders consider the Commander in Chief to be a full-blown pinko.
In the face of such a brainwashing triumph, thoughtful people can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by hopelessness. What can you do but throw up your hands and cry, “Lord, what fools these mortals be”?
What is it about accurate information that repels the vast majority of Americans? Why would they rather have their prejudices reinforced than their eyes opened?
That’s a question to be answered by someone a lot smarter than me.
But I’m smart enough to know that Obama is no Socialist, and I am beginning to wonder whether America – and the world – would be better off if he were.
Reviewing “The Case for Socialism” by Alan Maass, Bader recalls the Socialist heyday in America during the early 20th century. And she notes that once again capitalism isn’t working – “not in the U.S. and not in other parts of the world.”
She cites this passage in the Maass book:
Almost half the world’s population – more than three billion people, the equivalent of the population of ten United States – live on less than $2.50 a day. A billion people are undernourished and go to bed hungry each night. Two in five people around the world lack access to clean water, and one in four lacks basic electricity.
And she adds:
Here in the U.S., whole communities are being decimated by evictions and foreclosures, healthcare is a shambles, and hunger and homelessness are at near-record levels. Twenty percent of children are born into poverty, and illnesses correlating with inadequate nutrition are epidemic. At the same time, Maass reports that in 2009, the world’s 793 billionaires had a combined worth of $2.4 trillion. This translates into “twice the combined gross domestic product of all the countries in sub-Saharan Africa.”
Maass charges that “Capitalism is built around organized theft – the theft of a portion of the value of what workers produce by the people who employ them.” That’s an extreme view, but it’s not entirely inaccurate.
To counter Maass, you could cite the many failures of Socialism over the years. It usually has not worked as advertised. In most cases, bureaucrats have taken over the privileges that the wealthy used to enjoy, and the mass of the people have been no better off.
Indeed, under the so-called Socialism of the Soviet empire, they were a lot worse off. But no one in their right mind would advocate the brutish Communist system today. I am sure the advocates of Socialism have in mind something a lot more democratic, something like the Scandinavian governments.
You certainly would not claim that the capitalist system is fair or compassionate. It’s based on a dog-eat-dog philosophy that insists society as a whole benefits from the selfish pursuits of individuals.
Come on, be honest. Do you still believe that the capitalist philosophy works, after all that’s happened? After the economic collapse and the futile bank bailouts? After the bursting of the housing bubble? After the deaths of those workers in that West Virginia mine accident? After the explosion of that BP oil well in the Gulf?
The truth is that capitalism – as we know it – has failed.
Yet as U.S. President, Barack Obama is doing everything he and his advisers can think of to keep it alive. I don’t see how anyone can call him a Socialist. The way I see it, he’s engaged in a futile battle to save capitalism from itself.
It may well be time for America to try something new – if not Socialism, something close to it.