"Socialism" in the Air
With socialism such a buzz word with even mainstream media addressing it I've been using my WAVE column to try to sort things out for the poor right wingers who might come across my column --- 75% of my neighborhood voted for Trump.
As I write this I'm waiting for a national news segment on NPR's Weekend Edition on Ocasio-Cortez. I know she's striking while the iron is hot but I also think there may be a bit of a blow back when the actual vote comes in November. She needs to be seen in her district as much as around the nation because there will be some resentment and Crowley is still on the ballot on the WFP and even a modestly good showing would burst her bubble a bit.
Check this early morning On The Media segment on NPR we hear a rational discussion of socialism and some of the right - and even Democratic center hysteria over the Ocasio-Cortez win. Like Venezuela is not exactly what socialists consider democratic socialism. I love the part where the public libraries are talked about as being a threat because they show a form of socialism and government competency -- see, things can work -- I never hear complaints about the libraries.
Here's the intro:
I've been blogging about the socialist wave and how it is being dealt with in the media:
- Here's the difference between a 'socialist' and a ...
- Mainstream media grapples with a left-wing wave
- David Remnick on Democratic Socialism, DSA, Ocasio...
Here is this week's column. I'm trying to figure this stuff out myself.
Published July 27, 2018 in The WAVE -- www.rockawave.com
School Scope: The Democratic Party in Crisis: Left or Center or Gone
By Norm Scott
“Democrats, please, please don’t lose your minds and rush to the socialist left. This president and his Republican Party are counting on you to do exactly that. America’s great middle wants sensible, balanced, ethical leadership,” tweeted one James Comey, who did as much to give us insensible, unbalanced and unethical leadership as anyone.Oh to dive into the depths of these statements but I have a word limit.
“What people call socialism these days is Eisenhower Republicanism!”... Frances Fox Priven, in The New Yorker.
Last week I wrote about the election of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who defeated Queens power broker Joe Crowley, and how she is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) which has grown four-fold since the election of Donald Trump. By the amount of commentary about Alexandria who won an election that may prove to be an anomaly, she has caused people to go nuts on the right (which has gone nuts attacking her), the center – so much angst over having the first member of the House who ids as a socialist since the late 1940s – and on a fawning left. Last weekend she appeared with Bernie Sanders in red state Kansas and they attracted 4,000 people. Scary stuff even to many Democrats. As someone on the fringe of being some form of social democrat myself, but also concerned that going too far out can turn into a disaster, the debate has been fascinating. Her election has exacerbated the schism between the progressives (the Bernie) wing and the centrists (the Clinton wing) which will only grow as the race to run against Trump in 2020 heats up.
There is a lot of fuzziness between these wings and various versions of what is socialism, so I thought I’d try to clarify some of it over the next few columns as a way to get my own fuzziness cleared up a bit.
The “socialist” label is tossed around willy-nilly and those who identify themselves as socialists fume when people like Obama are branded as socialist. Anyone who views the need for government to be active is considered socialist, like Eisenhower and Nixon, I guess. Centrist Democrats like Obama, Hillary, Biden, etc. are viewed by people on the true left as neo-liberals, as far from socialist as you can get. Neo-liberals are free marketers and include both Dems and Republicans. Education is a prime example of where the neo-liberal positions of both parties align – open things up to competition like having charters and let the market decide even as we’ve seen the market manipulated. That is why both parties - until Trump – supported the free trade agreements which have devastated workers, opposed mostly by the left and some unions when they came up – again, until Trump. That is why neo-libs of both parties have been upset, though Republican neo-libs have bitten the bullet and shut up over tariffs. (Both parties generally aligned in the views on Russia – again until Trump, but more on this another time – hint: I don’t totally diverge from Trump on NATO and Russia.)
The Democrats are viewed as being pro-union since so much of their support comes from unions. In reality, the Dems have been screwing the unions as they have shifted into identify politics and downplayed class struggle (Yes, Virginia, the old 1% is screwing us all). As union influence dissipated, so did the protections workers had and it opened the way for Trumpists to gain ground – one of the main turning points in the 2016 elections – and the Dems did it to themselves. The have allowed the FDR/New Deal coalition of the working class (both white and black) and liberals to fracture.
My own UFT is knee deep in the Dem Party and the recent Janus decision allowing people to not pay union dues is a response from the right wing to chop up unions’ ability to support the Dems. Unions have generally been anti-left wing and have kept the party to the center. So their weakening might actually open up the Dems to a shift to the socialist- leaning left which is more open to supporting workers – hey, it’s socialism.
David Remnick in The New Yorker had a fascinating article on Ocasio-Cortez and the DSA, with its history – I had some commentary and the link on my blog: