Socialism for dummies (updated)

I don’t understand my country. None of its political labels make a damn bit of sense. Too many of them are outright falsehoods. And at least a couple have been maligned by so much propaganda that they may not be salvageable. “Liberal” is one. The word itself has become weaponized to the point where even liberals often eschew it in favor of “progressive”. I’m still not sure what that even means. Progress is cool, i suppose, but requires direction and a destination. And then there’s that pesky Zeno and his paradox: is progress even possible for a monkey with fancy thumbs? “Libertarian” is pretty bad these days too. Far too often the word is invoked as a dog whistle for social Darwinism and neo-liberalism. Liberty being best wholly described by “free” markets and possibly gun ownership. “Conservative” is the biggest laugh. Aside from conserving fetuses and the holy sanctity of heterosexuality (airport bathrooms and male prostitutes being the acceptable exceptions), i’m still at a lost for how these people got or retain the label.

In all actuality, “Conservatives” in America — especially as represented by the Republican Party — are neo-liberals to the core. Ignore the morality play talk about God and the rhetoric used to move the masses. Look at what they do. Neo-liberalism from front to back and top to bottom. Funny that they spend most of there time employing Alinsky techniques on their political enemies and branding them as the dreaded “Liberal”. Takes one to know one i suppose. The people who bare the brunt of “Conservative” attacks, at least the ones represented by the Democratic Party, probably deserve it…not the moniker, the attacks. They’re mostly neo-liberals too.

Heads i lose, tails you win

Since we’re only allowed to vote for two parties in the Land of Pleasant Living, the power centers are quite happy with the present political arrangement. We’re all neo-liberals, whether we want to be or not. Those of us who don’t want to be (and don’t want anyone else on the planet to be subjected to that maliciously steaming pile of bubonic plague infected feces) aren’t left with a whole hell of a lot of choices.

The best one we have is also the most maligned. It somehow gets directly associated with fascism and its attendant mustache styles. Or turns into a clubfooted, paranoid dictator forcing people into slave labor and keeping them from the latest in refrigerator technology. Try saying “socialism” in polite company; then try explaining how the USSR wasn’t really socialism in action at all. (See; clubfooted, paranoid dictator) Attempt to show how there’s a whole continent that practices varying degrees of socialism while remaining home to profitable companies, flat screen TV’s and even democracy.

You’ll get blank stares; strange, historically inaccurate ramblings that will descend into contradiction and incoherence; and if you’re really unlucky, the threat of patriot blood being spilled to water the tree of liberty. I’d say that offering the example of labor unions is a good counter-punch, but now that we have our weekends and would rather work anyhow because we really need the latest in refrigerator technology (or we have to because we fell for the neo-liberal shuck and jive), we feel that unions are unnecessary. Or worse, they’re rending the very fabric of America and what made her great with their blood sucking. Work isn’t something that should command respect and a living wage; it’s a god-damned right.

But what do i know. I’m just a guy raised in a UAW town who was able to enjoy the blessings of an education and chose to keep my neck red and my collar blue. I do, however, know of another redneck who gets it and he publishes books. So i’ll let Joe Bageant take it from here and explain socialism:

To my mind, socialism is this:

A community and national philosophy, a commonly shared and not necessarily politicized way of life wherein the first priority is the fundamental well-being of the people (also known as “the masses,” a term you have probably been programmed to wrinkle your brow in ominous suspicion of.) “Fundamental well-being” means that everyone eats well, enjoys safe and adequate homes and a common standard of good health. It means that children are educated to do more than just the rote tasks that serve corporate empires. It means the man actually doing the work man negotiates the value of his labor. It means that somewhere in the last third or quarter of his life, that working man, after enjoying his freedom, bacon and common work, and diligently sustaining his fellow men, is released from his toil. Released into security and peace and modest but guaranteed sustenance. He is free to nurse his aches, chase old women or take up Bourbon or Buddhism. Or both, as I have. Whatever he chooses as a free man in a free and benevolent socialist society.

Don’t let the ideologues, demagogues and half-assed spoiled little middle class jerks who call themselves socialists in this country fool you. Socialism has to do with man’s innate longing for justice, the undying heart within us, and all that is generous and good in that heart. That’s why so many have so willingly died for it, and will continue to do so in corners of the world we will never see or hear about because we are not allowed to, but which are never the less part of this world, and therefore affective of this world.

And then there’s this:

“No Obama, no miracle of ‘green science,’ no national genius will emerge to lead us. We have only the simple, direct, undeceived intelligence of ordinary men and women to rely upon. We must regain respect for the seemingly meager and often lonely powers an individual does have, and choose work and a way of living upon which we can all rely.”[my emphasis]

Maybe i’m crazy but that sounds pretty god-damned conservative to me. Not that shit that pretends at being conservative while being worse than regular liberal, but the kind of conservative that comes from holding the fruit of your labor in your hands…that is, having something to conserve. The kind of conservative that you might hear an old farmer express when he says that his first job is to leave the land a little better than he received it for the benefit of those who work it after him. The kind of conservative that comes from looking around your neighborhood, town, city or nation and finding common cause with all the other poor fucks trying to get by, and wanting to keep the neighborhood instead of sell it to some slick asshole in an expensive suit for a new refrigerator.

Read the rest of Joe’s thoughts

~ by Lex on January 26, 2010.

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