Friday, May 28, 2010

New Book Explains the Need for Socialism in a Brutal World

Posted by Will Moredock on Fri, May 28, 2010 at 10:56 PM

Nobody has talked about socialism in this country in decades until the Teabaggers started screaming the word every time two or more or them got together. I never thought these ignorant people understood much about socialism (or anything else, for that matter). Now a new book by Alan Maass (with an afterward by Howard Zinn) gives the lie to the Teabagger propaganda. Here is an excerpt from a review by Eleanor Bader on Truthout . Looks like a pretty good read, so don't count on many Teabaggers reading it.

Can socialism work?It cannot do any worse that capitalism has done over the last 30 years. See the whole review at http://www.truthout.org/the-case-socialism59538, then go out and get yourself a copy.


The oft-repeated barrage of verbal assaults lobbed at Barack Obama - that he’s a commie/foreigner/infidel/Nazi - confirm this. Indeed, an April 2010 CBS/NY Times poll found that 52 percent of Americans believe that the president is moving the US toward socialism, something they clearly regard as bad, and maybe even dangerous, for the US and its people. What’s more, The Huffington Post reported in February that 78 percent of Republican leaders consider the Commander in Chief to be a full-blown pinko.

That these assertions are insane - and more than a little frightening - goes without saying. But they also reveal a profound lack of knowledge about socialism, the class struggle, and theories of governance.

Alan Maass’ The Case for Socialism goes a long way in rectifying this information gap, and should be required reading in every high school and college civics class. Clearly and accessibly written, it posits socialism as a viable and necessary alternative to capitalism.

The late historian Howard Zinn, in an afterword that was originally published in The Progressive, reminds readers that in the early decades of the 20th century, a vast number of US residents were cheered by socialism’s promise. For one, more than a million people read Appeal to Reason, a socialist newspaper published from 1897-1922. Other left-wing publications - including The New Masses, The Labor Herald, and The Call - were similarly popular until the combined effects of the Palmer Red Raids and the country’s economic collapse drove them out of business. Zinn notes that prior to Palmer’s clampdown, “The [Socialist] Party had 100,000 members and 1200 office-holders in 340 municipalities. Socialism was especially strong in the Southwest, among tenant farmers, railroad workers, coal miners, and lumberjacks. Oklahoma had 12,000 dues-paying members and 100 office socialaist officer holders....

Here in the US, whole communities are being decimated by evictions and foreclosures, healthcare is a shambles, and hunger and homelessness are at near-record levels. Twenty percent of children are born into poverty, and illnesses correlating with inadequate nutrition are epidemic. At the same time, Maass reports that in 2009, the world’s 793 billionaires had a combined worth of $2.4 trillion. This translates into “twice the combined gross domestic product of all the countries in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Yes, three billion human beings have fewer resources than 793 others.

“The free market system is organized in completely the wrong way for the good of meeting the needs of the largest number of people in society,” Maass continues. “Capitalism is built around organized theft - the theft of a portion of the value of what workers produce by the people who employ them.” Buttressed by out-of-whack priorities, atrocities abound:

* World governments annually spend more than $1 trillion on war. The US government’s military budget for this year is an obscene $663.8 billion;
* The US nuclear weapon’s program cost $52 billion in 2008. This is seven-and-a-half times the amount spent on Head Start pre-school programs;
* Companies like Bud Light, Coca-Cola, and Michelob spent upwards of $3 million for 30-second ad spots during the 2010 Super Bowl. This sum is more than most people will earn in a lifetime of labor....

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