Socialism for thee but not for me

 

Trump appears to have found the theme for his 2020 presidential campaign–Socialism is bad!!!

“We are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” said President Donald Trump in his State of the Union address. “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

Unfortunately for Trump, the continuing deterioration in economic and social conditions for most Americans has resulted in an increased hostility towards corporate capitalism, Wall Street and what more and more citizens correctly perceive as a plutocracy masquerading as “democracy”. Moreover, this desperate maneuver by Trump to use socialism as a bogeyman is unwittingly a signal that America’s elite does actually view the resurgence in class politics and socialism as a real threat.

What’s funny is that after years of unrelenting hostility, socialism is more popular than ever thanks to the efforts of this very same elite. It seems as if the alienation from the myth of the “free-market” and the “American Dream” has resulted in a growing receptiveness among ordinary citizens to socialism. Polls now show majorities of US public expressing a positive identity with socialist politics. It is no longer a taboo concept. This is quite a shocking achievement in the US, where decades of government, news media and academic propaganda have tried to expunge any notion of socialism from the American mind.

I’ll let you in on a little secret–we already have socialism in the US but this particular form of socialism is reserved for the wealthy and corporations and financial institutions they own, while the rest of us are force-fed austerity.

For instance, the same neoliberal crew who depicted any expansion of government as a step on the path toward socialist dystopia, was clamoring for a government backstop for insolvent banks in the wake of the 2008 Wall Street Crash. We find more evidence of corporate socialism in the military/industrial/complex (MIC), where a small number of so-called defense firms get no-bid, cost-plus contracts to manufacture largely worthless, planes, ships, and weapons systems. Then, there’s the socialism for Amazon, who just walked away from its planned new HQ in Long Island, eschewing the 3 billion dollar subsidy (bribe) that the city of NYC and state of New York were offering.

This story of Amazon pitting various cities against each other in a desperate bid to grow their economies is the latest itineration of this all-American class-based socialism. For too long, powerful corporations and politicians have promoted policies and projects that asked  working-class Americans to sacrifice their meager benefits and social services for the supposed greater good of the economy.

For years, our leaders have informed us that the economy is first and foremost for the wealthy, who might share their riches with the rest of us. We’re told that if developers get to shape the city, with ‘consultation’ and subsidies from the people; and your children will benefit from the shared prosperity the rich somehow summon. My favorite example of this phenomenon is wealthy sports team owners holding a city hostage by threatening to move the team if the captive city doesn’t pony up billions of dollars to build a new stadium.

Basically, the message has been–we must provide socialism for the rich so that the wealth they create will trickle down to the rest of us. And, furthermore, there’s no alternative.

I kinda think that this arrangement will be up for discussion in 2020.

 

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