Capitalism v. Socialism Two-Pack
The great radical historian Howard Zinn once told me, half in jest, that one of the
greatest disasters to befall socialism was when the Soviet Union put it in the official
name of the country: The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I asked him to explain
and he said, The USSR, which had little to do with socialism, it was an authoritarian
state, wanted to capitalize on the almost universal good name that socialism had.
And the capitalist countries played along by smearing socialism and conflating it
with the USSR. If you expressed interest in socialism the response would be: “Why
don’t you move to a gulag in Siberia? Today, because of growing wealth and income
inequality and the Bernie Sanders campaign, he got more than 13 million votes,
there is a resurgence of interest in socialism. Many young people are fed up with
predatory capitalism and are looking for alternatives. Worker-owned and operated
coops are springing up. These initiatives can proliferate and grow. And as Howard
Zinn always said, authentic socialism must be small “d” democratic.
The present phase of capitalism is a great success story for the uber rich. Torrents of wealth flow overwhelmingly to a sliver of the population. Millennials in large numbers are seriously questioning the existing economic order. They are even willing to, hold your breath, consider a socialist alternative. The Bernie Sanders campaign made a huge impact on many young people and sparked interest in socialism. When millennials hear the term capitalism they think about Wall Street bailouts, corporate greed, off shore accounts, and a tax code riddled with loopholes for the well connected. For far too many the vaunted invisible hand feels like a death grip. Now is the time to think outside the box. As George Monbiot writes in The Guardian, “It’s not enough to oppose a broken system. A coherent alternative has to be proposed.”
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