Opinions & Editorials

OP-ED: Socialism, Perhaps A Better Choice?

The Guardsman

Alex Schmauss

A ghost is haunting global capitalism – the ghost of socialism.

The more boastful supporters of our current economic system declare capitalism guarantees freedom, democracy and opportunity, but the falseness of their claims is becoming increasingly obvious.

The global recession that began in 2007 affected a significant reduction in most people’s standard of living – even in the world’s wealthiest country.

According to a Sentier Research report, real median annual household income in the United States declined by 9.8% during the period from December 2007 to June 2011.

“We’re now living in a world of zombie economic policies – policies that should have been killed by the evidence that all of their premises are wrong, but which keep shambling along nonetheless,” Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said last month in the New York Times.

Krugman argues that relentless budget cuts to public education and social services in a depressed economy are “self-defeating; by shrinking the economy and hurting long-term revenue, austerity . . . makes the debt outlook worse.”

A “global perfect storm” looms for 2013 in which the U.S. economy could fall back into recession and the euro area will begin to break up, economist Nouriel Roubini said to CNBC last week.

Roubini, who has worked for the Federal Reserve, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, was compelled in August to admit that Karl Marx had it right.

“At some point, capitalism can destroy itself,” Roubini said to the Wall Street Journal. “You cannot keep shifting income from labor to capital without having an excess capacity and a lack of aggregate demand. That’s what has happened. We thought that markets worked. They’re not working. The individual can be rational. The firm, to survive and thrive, can push labor costs more and more down, but labor costs are someone else’s income and consumption. That’s why it’s a self-destructive process.”

But Roubini is no revolutionary, he aims to use Marx’s ideas to save the system from itself.

Marx, however, thought that an alternative to capitalism could only begin to be built through a revolution that overthrew the oppressor class and opened up space for the working class and its allies to reconstruct democracy.

Such ideas also have deep roots in the United States.

During his life Martin Luther King Jr. was received by the oppressor class with the most furious hatred and an unscrupulous campaign of lies and slander.

But after his death, attempts were made to convert King into a harmless icon, to canonize him, to hallow his name, while omitting, obscuring and distorting the
revolutionary edge of his words and his revolutionary soul.

King understood that racism, war and exploitation were natural to American capitalism. In his 1967 “Where do we go from here” speech, he addresses capitalism by saying that in order to free ourselves “the whole structure must be changed . . .  America must be born again!”

Changing the whole structure of a global society dominated by American capitalism is a huge undertaking, but one made urgent by eminent threats of further financial crises that will only get worse.

Occupy Wall Street pushed the problems of inequality and class toward the center of political debate and highlighted the possibility of an alternative to society based on exploitation and oppression.

But the organized forces of the international revolutionary left are numerically insignificant and largely inexperienced in struggle, so we have to work hard at reconstructing working class movements and organizations.

If you think an alternative to capitalism is possible and want to get involved in the struggle to unite the workers of the world, please contact the International Socialist Organization: iso@norcalsocialism.org

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The Guardsman