Time Out for all Socialists
What is socialism. The American college dictionary by Random House says it is “an organization which advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production, capital, land , etc in the community as a whole”.
I think the key word here is an organization. Too many times we think of the entire government as an organization. We do have the organizations of education, police, fire department and forestry management, to name a few, within our government. These are mostly setup as socialist organizations as we all think we as a people own these organizations. In fact most of them claim they are here to help ALL the people.
Some countries entire governments are setup as socialist. We in the United States think of our government as a “Republic”. It was never a democracy, but there are many people within our country that would like to see us become a real democracy, including myself, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Al Franken. There is a television and radio program called “Democracy Now.”
Part of the organizations within our government are socialistic. That is, they are organizations that advocate control and ownership to the communities at large.
There are several movements within the United States to make our entire government a socialist government. Certainly Franklin D. Roosevelt was trying to do that with his Second Bill of Rights. In 1944 during his State of the Union Address, he suggested the nation should implement these rights as they are guaranteed by the constitution and the existing Bill of Rights was inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness. He suggested eight rights that would guarantee the people in the United States:
Second Bill of rights:
- Employment, with a living wage
- Food, clothing and leisure
- Farmers’ rights to a fair income
- Freedom from unfair competition and monopolies
- Medical care
- Social Security
In his address he said having these rights would guarantee American security, and the place of the United States in the world, depended on how far these rights were carried into practice.
Most of us will agree that Capitalism has not kept us free from unfair competition and monopolies. As the giant large worldwide firms move into our small neighborhoods with their products they have purchased in bulk, they underprice the small businesses and sometimes force them to close all over the United States. Some people in the United States suggest we need to have a social democracy where this second bill of rights is put into place. They have been branded with the name socialists and even communists.
In the late 1800’s Edward Bellamy had a vision of a new world. This new world was his idea of a utopia. In his book ‘Looking Backwards’, he tells a story of a man that falls asleep in the late 1800’s and similar to the story of Rip Van Winkle, doesn’t wake up for over 120 years. He fell asleep in a basement he built for privacy, and when he wakes up he finds his home above the basement was burned to the ground and now a medical doctor and his family live in the home that was built in its place. The year is 2000 and the world is a world of the people, by the people and for the people. Sound familiar?
Karl Marx was a newspaper reporter in the first part of the nineteenth century and he became the editor in 1842. Poor people were taking wood out of the forests. The forests were not under control of the government and the poor people were charged with thievery. Marx wrote about it in the paper and took the side of the poor because all they were trying to do was stay warm. His heart went out to the poor people in his editorials so the Prussian state suppressed the paper and re-established it without Marx. (In other words he was fired).
Deon as Marx
I performed as Karl Marx in a rendition of Marx in Soho locally in Northern California in 2013. The play was written by Historian Howard Zinn. You can find the play on youtube.
"Marx in Soho"
Basically Howard Zinn says what Marx called communism is closer to what we today call social democracy. Instead of a representative form of government like we have now, Marx thought the best kind of government would be chosen by all of the people; not by representatives of the people. For a brief while this kind of government was established in France, as the Paris Commune of 1871. Howard Zinn in his play “Marx in Soho” has Karl Marx coming back from the grave and telling about this situation in France. In the Paris Commune they formed what was called a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The economic and industrial powers stopped it before it could gain any ground.
You Be The Judge
In 1874 the U.S. socialist political party called themselves the Social Democratic Working men’s party. Today it is called the socialist party. Also today (2015), we have a Revolutionary Communist Party in the United States led by Bob Avakian. Avakian has brought forward a model of socialism as a vibrant and dynamic society – characterized by great ferment, dissent, experimentation, and initiative – which claims to be a revolutionary transition to communism. The new synthesis also comprehends a breakthrough in the strategic approach to revolution in today's world, in particular an orientation for making revolution in the imperialist countries such as the U.S.A. His group (revcom.us on the web) claims to be manifesting a new kind of social relationship between men and women and a new morality that fosters mutual respect and equality. You be the judge. For me, they are too warlike. That’s why I say ‘Time out for a socialist’. Can’t we accomplish something like FDR wanted without a revolution?
Most people do not want to give up home ownership. Most people like having control over what they buy and who they buy it from. The capitalist system has many fine attributes. However, with the large corporations having the same rights as independent people as we have now what is a small business to do? Unfair competition and monopolies are rampant in our U.S.A. society today (2015).
We started a small business back in the nineties and found the wholesalers could not get us retailers the same price the large corporations were selling items for. In other words we could go to the large retailers and buy products for less than what the wholesale price was. Manufacturing has been moving out of the United States since Ronald Reagan was our President. Corporations are buying in bulk and shipping extremely large quantities of products and disseminating them around the world so they have better prices than the small businesses. According to Mother Jones 2/3 of US corporations pay NO federal income tax. In our small business we HAD to pay taxes. How do small businesses compete with that? So much for capitalism.
There is hope! It’s exciting to see some movement towards cooperatives. The Mondragon company is one of the leading Spanish business groups, integrated by autonomous and independent cooperatives with production subsidiaries and corporate offices in 41 countries and sales in more than 150 countries.
I get most excited about an organization where every worker participates in the decision making of an organization. Now that’s a step toward democracy.
Can it happen in the United States? We already have the Arizmendi bakery in San Francisco that follows the Mondragon model. Their web page says it’s the business model for the 21st century.
The San Francisco Bay area of California’s region has more in common with Europe than much of the rest of America according to an article by Georgia Kelly in the Solidarity-Economy.net via the Huffington Post.
Innovation and creativity are things we all value. In our culture in the United States, competition has a high value. One of my Republican friends said, “I don’t care who’s right or who’s wrong, I care about who wins.”
Certainly creativity and innovation are needed in private and public businesses. So how do we encourage this?
Whether you are sympathetic to socialism or not, people who are motivated by sharing the wealth and creating jobs have created co-ops all over our country. A co-op is a store setup in a cooperative manner where workers become owners and have a say so in the organization.
For those who claim worker-ownership can only develop in countries sympathetic to socialist ideas or cultures where cooperation is highly valued, the success of worker-owned businesses in the San Francisco Bay Area and in many other parts of the USA demonstrate that people who are motivated by sharing the wealth and creating jobs can create coops anywhere.
According to Kelly’s article coops tout substantial living wages for their workers; a robust medical plan that includes dental and vision; Retirement plans where they do not match the contributions; and excellent healthcare plans that include preventative care, fitness and even massage.
Let's Make It Happen!
Georgia Kelly is the Executive Director of the Praxis Peace Institute. Their mission is impressive.
I called this article time out for socialism, because there may be a better way than a complete social order revolution as the U.S. Communist party wants to have happen. A revolution might be okay if there is no violence in the revolt. Can we make it happen intellectually? Can we keep from calling each other names and putting each other down. These are methods of bullying and intimidation. Take time out if you have socialist desires or leanings. Cooperatives might be a way to have the benefits of socialism within our existing republic. There may even be other ways to accomplish what we all want in our government without violence. Did you vote in the last election? Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren say we need to fight for our rights. I am sure they don’t mean fisticuffs or killing or bullying each other. Remember when emotions are in control, logic goes out the window. A fight with logic would be ideal. We don’t care who wins. We care about who and what is right. What is the best government for our future? Can we have a government of the people, by the people, and for the people in this 21st century? We all want the best for our kids and grandkids. Let’s make it happen!