Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1410, (20 - 26 September 2018)
Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Issue 1410, (20 - 26 September 2018)

Ahram Weekly

Socialism, back from the wilderness

William Morris
William Morris

The clamour for socialism throughout the world is turbulent and thunderous.

Forgotten is the desperate and sad reality of people held captive by socialist regimes.

Focusing on the ethical appeal of socialism, politicians like Bernie Sanders (US), Jeremy Corbyn (UK), Pauline Hanson, (Australia) among others, hide the repressive single-party lifestyle, touting the promise of free benefits.

They call for free college education, free healthcare, free transportation, free housing, etc, as a right for every citizen. Free entitlements sound very attractive, especially to the under-30 segment of the society who have no recollection of the enormous personal price for those free services.

Too young to know that nothing is free. 

They have no recollection of the world wars of the early 20th century, of the rise of communism or of the dreadful onset of the Cold War.

The first two decades of the 20th century were socialism’s heyday. Even in the hallmark of democracy and capitalism, a socialist party headed by workers’ union leaders was established. It grew rapidly, much like its sister parties in Europe and elsewhere.

With the rise of communism and the onset of the Cold War, socialism began to lose its lustre. The world celebrated the fall of dictatorships and monarchies and hailed the democratic rule… one man, one vote.

Socialism, however, was lying in wait all these years and now it has come roaring back… to the left.

A good deal of credit is given to an old man with spiked grey hair, an old trench coat and a booming voice calling for free tuition for college students. An army of young students applauded his message. 

A self-described socialist, the longest socialist serving in congress, he caucuses with the democrats, but seldom agrees with them. He was never taken seriously until he almost defeated Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. She could never evoke the same passion in her followers who were embarrassingly few while he had a tremendous national following for his socialist ideas.

When did it become acceptable for Americans to back an avowed socialist?

An almost identical situation occurred in Britain when socialist Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party and the Opposition almost won over PM Teresa May… again his voters were 18-25. 

Are younger people actively left wing? No, but being left wing is the default state. “In effect it has replaced Christianity as people’s moral anchor.”

Aided by an academic elite, left wing teachers, bureaucrats, writers, who, like Sanders, never soured on the ideology of socialism, are now raising a millennial generation with no knowledge of the horrors perpetrated by the real world.

Have we not tried this route before?

Have we forgotten how terrible life was under socialism? Have we not seen the desperate attempts at defections by leading musicians, artists, poets, athletes from Hungary, East Berlin, Czechoslovakia etc.

Who needs Big Brother watching over you?

A new generation with no memory of all this, of the collapse of the Berlin War, is being led blindly to a new Utopia.

Socialism is older than democracy and has succeeded in some form or another in the Nordic countries and the Netherlands. Still it implies an unqualified rejection of capitalism. Private property does not exist but personal property will remain, meaning your lipstick and your shaving kit.

It applies the same Marxist manifesto: “From each according to his ability to each according to his needs”. Yet it was Karl Marx who remarked: “All I know is that I am not a Marxist.”

English Utopia Socialist William Morris said: “Between complete socialism and communism there is no difference whatever in my mind. Communism is in fact the completion of Socialism, when that ceases to be militant and becomes triumphant, it will be communism.”

This is the fear of most as they watch the rise of socialism. It either fails or evolves into communism. 

Echoes of such ideas are heard repeatedly by the intellectual elite, the new- wave thinkers, college professors, writers, journalists who try to distance their movement from the historic stigma and forecast a new form of socialism “that speak to the challenges of the day”. Is that possible?

Are you ready to have factories, offices, banks, natural resources, utilities, communication and transportation infrastructure all socially owned.

Even if the new generation has no memory of the 20th century failures, can it not see how Venezuela, North Korea, Cuba, Laos, Viet Nam the only remaining communist states are such glaring examples of how it works or does not work. As they say: “Like prohibition, it is a good idea but won’t work.”

As for Russia and China, rather than eliminating class they have both created a small enormously wealthy party cliques that profit from state-owned enterprises. They are nothing more than big deceptions.

Without a well formed ideology, this new form of socialism conveys an unapologetic attitude of empathy for the needy without providing the means to cover all the free entitlements they offer.

Whatever happened to democracy, the rule of the people, to discuss, decide and vote.

 This ideology was borrowed from the French: Liberty, equality and fraternity.

Socialism may offer equality and fraternity but where is the liberty we all cherish. It would clip our wings… a state rejected by all born free.

Alexandria Ocasia Cortez, the young socialist running for Congress, has been seen wearing a $3,500 designer suit.

She too was born free.

“The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.”

Aristotle (384-322 BC)

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