We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, November 1, 2015

America's Unofficial Religion - The War on an Idea

The Real News produced the video below which provides us within 29:10m an excellent history of the war that US capitalists have waged in all their ideological institutions against anyone arguing the notion of public ownership and control of the economy. At the same time they have essentially elevated the economic system of capitalism to that of a religion. Those who question or dissent from this religion are subject to many forms of "excommunication" such as ridicule, ostracism, unemployment, poverty, and killing if necessary.

(On a personal note, as an activist in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1960s and 70s, I knew of Richard Becker, a leader of a leftist party, who spoke at many rallies. Brian Becker, who recounts a lot of socialist history in the video, looks astonishingly identical to him.)

I disagree with Brian Becker with respect to his portrayal of Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Party's campaign. Our ruling class is simply using Sanders to continue their re-definition of "socialism" as "social democracy" (capitalism with significant welfare and public spending programs)--which they can barely tolerate--in order to divert people's attention away from public ownership and control of the economy. In the context of electoral campaigns they often do this to bring unwitting dissenters and activists, who have difficulty with harsh austerity policies, back into supporting the Democratic Party and its candidates. 

Our ruling capitalist directors have so successfully managed to conflate socialism with the nice sounding label of "social democracy" that many Americans today confuse social democracy with socialism. Historically I think this began in the 1930s when Norman Thomas was a perennial candidate of the Socialist Party of America which by the 1930s, due to issues related to the Soviet revolution of 1917, had become largely transformed from a radical anti-capitalist party to a social democratic type of party. Thomas collaborated with, and supported, FDR's attempts to introduce a variety of social welfare and public spending programs.