What is socialism? For academics, it is a systematic way of organizing the distribution of goods and services. Former President Harry S. Truman said, referring to opponents of socialism: “Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps everyone.” Dr. Martin Luther King later ironically observed that, in light of America’s racial and economic inequalities: “We have socialism for the rich and a robust free enterprise capitalism for the poor.
To speak the word in public in America today is to open a hot box of worms. People who cannot quite define socialism use it as a convenient curse. But it doesn’t have to be that way. In the spirit of 2009 by Michael Moore Capitalism: a love story, the energetic new documentary from director Yael Bridge The big scary word “S” builds its argument for socialism – perhaps the most misunderstood political / philosophical system in our society – on a case-by-case basis, at ground level, with a lot of help from history books and public figures such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Philosophy Professor Cornel West and Sociologist Adaner Usmani.
Bridge’s entertaining history lesson makes it clear. The friction between cooperative life and ownership interest began around the time that hunter-gatherers were first informed that someone else owned the land they considered open to everyone. With the consecration of private property and the motive of profit, labor became a salable commodity and the concept of rent made its appearance. Taken to its extreme, this fundamental inequality has finally led to the current situation, where the five richest people on the planet – go ahead, guess who they are – have more wealth than 3.5 billion of their peers.
Economic inequality in the 21st century United States is, of course, shockingly widespread. The battle between hard-core capitalism – and its apologists – and workers dates back to the beginnings of the industrial revolution at the end of the 18e century. Surprisingly, socialist thought has deep roots in the United States. Organized labor, workplace rules, workplace safety regulations, social security, minimum wages and unemployment compensation are just part of the legacy of socialist action. Poet Walt Whitman was an American socialist, as were disability rights activist Helen Keller, scientist Albert Einstein, civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr., author James Baldwin and Francis Bellamy, who wrote the Pledge of Allegiance. One of the doc’s talking heads points out that Teddy Roosevelt’s presidential campaign platform was to the left of that of Bernie Sanders.
Here are some facts to chew on: The abolition of slavery by the United States during the Civil War was the biggest transfer of wealth in human history, according to one of the doc experts. Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party – the last-day hideout of corporate hacker Donald Trump – was founded on the principles of anti-slavery socialism. Additionally, Lincoln and Karl Marx, the founder of Communism, exchanged views on the problems of slavery and labor in 1865 – their letters were published in newspapers in the United States and Britain.
However, the owner class continues to fight tenaciously against workers’ rights. Low wages and debt, the twin enemies of American workers, have been destroying families since the 1970s. The 2008 Wall Street bailout, also known as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, left everyone behind. behind him, while saving the bankers. The current coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated inequalities. “Capitalism can even destroy the possibility of human life [through climate change], warns sociologist Vivek Chibber.
What should an American employee in difficulty do? The first challenge seems abstract but makes sense: rebuilding faith in ourselves for a more equitable economic / social system. Support organized labor and collective bargaining. Keep in mind Harvard sociologist Usmani’s plan for just economics: in the best of all possible worlds, we wouldn’t have preconceived ideas about each other, and we’d all be in the same boat so equal. This Labor Day weekend, see The big scary word “S” and take a long look around you.