Thursday, August 7, 2014

I Make No Apologies for Labeling Myself "Socialist"

I make no apologies for labeling myself "socialist."

I adhere to the fundamental belief of the left that all people are created equally, as opposed to the far right view that contradicts this. As far as I'm concerned, every child born on this planet has an equal claim to basic human rights - food, water, shelter, clothing, companionship, leisure, enjoyment, and so on and so forth.

But the system we live under isn't a system of government. "Conventional wisdom" tells us that here in the United States we live in a democracy - that we, the people have a say in our own destinies. To an extent, this is true. A prosperous country like this one affords many opportunities to its citizens that a less free nation does not. But make no mistake, the system we live under is Global Capitalism, and it's easily shown that this system does not work for the majority of humans.

Global Capitalism turns the world's gears, with cooperative governments greasing the axles. This is plain to see from the macro to micro-economic levels, from the revolving door between the SEC and Wall Street lawyers to glad-handing council members cheerily approving exclusionary development projects while cutting education funds.

Our government is referred to as a "representative democracy." We regularly hit the voting booth to choose other folks to make all the big decisions for us. When you look at presidential and congressional approval ratings, it's pretty clear that the will of the people is of little concern to those in power. When you look at the polls it's clear that our government is far from achieving the "consent of the governed," one of the principles found in the U.S. Declaration of Independence that is all but forgotten. In practice, it's a far cry from actual democracy.

"But socialism doesn't work."

You may point to the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China to illustrate. The histories of those two countries and their systems of government bear little resemblence to true socialism, or even communism, for that matter. Real socialism is a system that has never really been tried on a large scale. It's based on common ownership of the means of production rather than private, for-profit ownership. It doesn't have to mean more government, or state ownership of factories and farms. It could, in practice, through any number of well-conceived institutions, mean exactly the opposite.

Global Capitalism is demonstrably responsible for environmental degradation, unending war, governmental corruption, the vicious cycle of inequality, and a host of other destructive practices that just might plague us to extinction. Governments are expected to fall in line, to follow orders, and pass legislation that supports the system. Those that refuse, e.g. Venezuela, end up on the wrong end of the club, as Chomsky might say.

I stand with those who would like to try something different.