Back in 1912, the Socialist candidate for President of the United States, Eugene Debs, got a LOT of popular votes, though he didn’t win any states. Five years later, something happened in Russia. A couple of years later, it became clear that that something wasn’t going to just conveniently go away.
That something was the Russian Revolution. The Communists had taken control of a major power. They had a very anti-capitalist platform, you know, power to the people, workers should rule, capitalism is doomed, etc. And they were apparently successful.
What might happen here???
The American PTB collectively(pun intended) said “Uh-oh! Can’t have that! What can we do?”
One of the longest propaganda campaigns in American history was launched. At its core, it said “America was founded on the principle of Freedom for All(pun again intended, FDL poster Freedom From All)”, and “America was founded on Judaeo-Christian principles,” and “America is About Equal Opportunity,” and “Capitalism Provides Equal Opporunity, Therefore America is Capitalist,” and “Therefore, America Represents The Will of God,” and “Therefore the Will of God and Jesus is for America to be Capitalist,” and “Therefore, in Order to be American, YOU Must Be a Supporter of Capitalism!”
Otherwise, you’re just a Godless Communist.
This theme has been incessantly repeated in this country since at least 1919. Oh, there are variations, the excesses of capitalism must be reined in by government, aka the New Deal and Great Society, but the fundamental principle of capitalism, the profit motive itself, cannot be allowed to be questioned, oh no!
Well, I question it. The profit motive is based on individual human greed and self-interest. I admit that human greed can never be eliminated by anything humans do. But the motive for ever-increasing profits CAN be substantially curtailed. By all sorts of things. Redistribution of wealth. Truly progressive taxation(seems to work pretty well in Scandinavia). An educated and vigilant public(again, seems to work pretty well in Scandinavia). Strong worker rights and protections. A sense of community, common purpose, and loyalty to one’s own people, land, and environment.
A sense of COMMON GROUND. The Anglo-Saxons shared this principle, as illustrated by their concept of the “commons,” where all could share the land and the wealth thereof. The Vikings understood this. The Native Americans certainly understood this. Even the early European-American settlers did, with their provisions for providing for the Common Defense and the General Welfare.
Those concepts have absolutely nothing to do with capitalism or the profit motive, but they are as American as the Stars and Stripes. In fact, because they are for the good of society as a whole, they are downright socialist.
So, whenever someone says that socialists want to “take down” or “destroy” America, remember that America was founded before capitalism even existed. Remember that America was founded on the principles not only of individual political and religious liberty but on those of the common good and the common purpose.
“If we don’t all hang together, it is most certain that all of us shall hang separately.”
Remember that capitalist propaganda is composed of every bit as much horsehockey as Stalinist propaganda ever was. Remember that America does NOT equal capitalism, or vice-versa. Any more than Russia equals Communism or Germany equals Nazism. America is, no more and no less, the country shaped by what its inhabitants allow to happen. What they make happen. What they create.
America is, ultimately, what WE make it. We The People DO have the power to make America what we wish. We may disagree on what that is, but don’t let a bunch of corporato-fascists tell you that America must be capitalist. That’s a bald-faced lie. America is what Americans make it.
And what Americans make has changed before, and will change again. I have faith that America, and the human race, and the universe, will evolve in the way that they were intended to do. Sometimes, evolution requires action.
Capitalism is doomed by its own contradictions and cannot survive. What will replace it? I’m not sure. But that does NOT mean that America is doomed. Call me an idealist or an optimist, I don’t care.
But don’t you dare call me anti-American.