Socialism for the USA

I once saw a young boy’s football roll into the street, where it was loudly flattened by a passing car. The child wept as if a family member had died. He realized life as he’d known it — with its specific, attendant happiness — was over.

Why can’t we muster a similar sense of finality concerning our popped economy?

Despite joblessness and foreclosures uncontrollably soaring, we still think capitalism has a future. The Big Three auto makers are about to go bust, states and municipalities across the country are broke, and leading retailers are shuttering their doors. Great Depression II looms. Still, we think there can be a “turnaround.”

Not so, friends. We need a brand new ball, and an entirely different, safe playing field.

Well over a century ago, Karl Marx analyzed the contradictions of what we’ve gloriously euphemized as “free enterprise,” and correctly concluded that capitalists are their own gravediggers.

They just can’t stop shoveling.

Private owners of the means of production always seek to increase profit, chiefly by freezing or diminishing the wages of the laboring proletariat, i.e., you, me, and Joe Six Pack.

Ultimately, the boss gets so rich from the stolen value our toil creates, and we so commensurately poor, that we can’t afford to buy back what society collectively produces.

Thus whiz-bang technological gadgets on Circuit City shelves begin to gather dust, and nobody stops by, to buy, at the local Chevrolet dealership. So it goes, throughout the dying economy.

Meanwhile, the boss-class constructs a house-of-cards financial apparatus that gets buffeted by the cross currents of a thousand and one greedy desires, and schemes, leading to an eventual collapse. Even the wealthy wind up losing their shirts.

Picture a stray dog peeing on the ruins of a city laid waste by some terrible catastrophe.

Not much more than that is the best we can hope for by clinging to the capitalist delusion.

During the awful years of the ’30s, FDR thwarted socialist rebellion via the expedient of the New Deal, with its alphabetized public works programs and other initiatives that improved people’s lives enough to keep them from storming oligarchy’s bastions.

Still, while things got gradually better for the suffering masses, it wasn’t until WWII’s enormous armament production kicked in that our country finally became prosperous again.

Barack Obama may put forth a new New Deal, and the relief it would give hard-pressed Americans would be most welcome. However, there are those who feel, with strong reason, that the present crisis will be even more devastating, and longer, than the original Great Depression.

Also, Obama could turn out to be much more accommodating toward even the most reactionary part of the ruling class than we progressive would like. Instead of the big Band-Aid that a fresh New Deal would represent, maybe we’ll get just a bunch of the little, essentially useless ones, applied almost haphazardly here and there.

Other questions: What if war once again emerges as the only real way to fire up the nation’s manufacturing sector? Who would we fight, and at what horrendous cost across the globe? What fraudulent, immoral excuse would “justify” our action?

Wouldn’t it be far better to root out the ruthless motive that drives capitalism, ultimately into the ground, as is happening today?

Why not nationalize at least the key sectors of America’s economy — under popular control — and make public profit the operative factor in our country’s everyday life?

Combine that with coordinated planning and time-tied national goals predicated on serving the common good, and we’d finally be getting somewhere.

You, I, and Joe Six Pack would jointly own America’s productive processes, as well as the banks, and we’d all share in the abundant profit that eliminating thieves and middle men would assure.

No one would get filthy rich, but we’d all live comfortably, with guaranteed health care, education, pensions, etc.

Yes, horrified right-wingers, I’m advocating democratic socialism, something I’m certain Barack Obama is too timid at heart to ever truly embrace.

Yes again, I favor eating the wealthy to nourish the impoverished. That’s far better than the rich endlessly sticking forks into workers, to perpetuate their obscenely privileged status.

Here’s the most compelling case for radical, indeed revolutionary change:

General Motors is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, contending that only a government bailout and/or nullification of its labor contracts can keep it from going under.

No consideration is being shown the good men and women whose blood, sweat, and tears have created the central industrial wealth of America for decades. They’re about to be served up on a sacrificial platter for GM’s executives and shareholders to greedily gobble down.

If the only way capitalism can survive is by robbing taxpayers and hiring low-pay, benefit-less scabs, after unionized workers are callously cast aside, then capitalism unquestionably needs to be tossed into the scrap heap of history.

Remember, iconic GM symbolizes the American way of doing things, and any pattern it sets will be followed throughout the business community.

Must we wait for radicalizing consciousness to emerge only after we’re all destitute and probably homeless?

Or will we now clean socialism of the vilifying mud that’s been long thrown against it, and appreciatively recognize it as our only, true salvation?

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, Wisconsin, has been writing progressive commentary with a Heartland perspective for various outlets since the '60s. Read other articles by Dennis.

24 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Don Hawkins said on December 6th, 2008 at 10:16am #

    I am very sure it is the only way that is if human civilization is to survive. It has already started one little problem the money is going to these so called elites. Power corrupts.

  2. Tree said on December 6th, 2008 at 10:28am #

    “Must we wait for radicalizing consciousness to emerge only after we’re all destitute and probably homeless?”
    Dennis, you ask a question I ask myself all the time. I believe there are people in this country with great ideas that if implemented would change the way we live for the better but it seems these are the people drowned out and/or ignored by the rest who demand we continue on course, using the same old ideas that have clearly failed us.
    There is so much potential for positive change in all this mess, I just hope we can overcome the greed and ignorance in order to move forward to a better society.

    Maybe the workers of GM should do what was done in Argentina, co-op the business.

  3. Ron Horn said on December 6th, 2008 at 12:26pm #

    “Must we wait for radicalizing consciousness to emerge only after we’re all destitute and probably homeless?”

    I fear that the answer is yes. The many decades of capitalist media have carefully cultivated a false consciousness that greed is good, that private ownership of economic (and socially produced) property is sacrosanct, that what is good for GM, Citi Bank, Goldman Sax, etc is good for America. It is going to take a lot more suffering for people to wake up and begin to see reality as it actually is, and to take the right measures to create a healthy, just, and sustainable society. With all the police state measures in place together with the shredding of the constitution, I’m not at all sure that we will ever get to “the promised land”.

  4. Doug Page said on December 6th, 2008 at 1:55pm #

    Dennis: Thank you for a great article. As I have written on these pages, I agree that national and global capitalism has self-destructed for the reason you state. The idea of leaving our national and global economies to the dictates of the market has been totally discredited. It is thus idiotic to spend our money in a vain effort to restart it at that level. The bailout appears to be no more than a way for the top 1% of our wealthy to feather their nest at our expense while the getting is good. We must be on guard against another War, but we also must be on guard against increased repression here in the US, the possible labeling of those of us who spell out the dynamics of capitalism as “terrorists” to be dealt with under FISA.

  5. John Hatch said on December 6th, 2008 at 1:56pm #

    I found it instructive that when Mr. Obama spoke of ‘sharing the wealth’ with the middle class (through a modest tax cut), there were outraged howls. Socialism!

    But when the banksters need a trillion and the automakers need billions, that’s simply an ‘adjustment’.

    Well that’s what one can expect of a nation of ‘Christians’ which sees nothing wrong with invasion, torture, and murder.


  6. Lloyd Rowsey said on December 6th, 2008 at 4:47pm #

    “Or will we now clean socialism of the vilifying mud that’s been long thrown against it, and appreciatively recognize it as our only, true salvation?”

    Why don’t you try answering your own totally vacuous question, Dennis? Where is an example of socialism, now or throughout history, in your humble if poetic imagination? I’ll even throw in the “emergency governments” of some 20th century nations during wartime. But no, they were run by and for capitalists. Or do you speak of communes and such, things below nation-state level, during this, last, and every century since l-o-n-g before capitalism arose, in, what the 15th century? Or perhaps in the 19th century, could your historical ignorance be so complete that you think a socialist country existed then?

    What you are evidently recognizing as “our own true salvation” has as much historical reality as the kingdom-come of religious devotees. By which we recognize them for their sincerity and devotion, but then we shake our heads when contemplating this world, its atrocities, and possible change.

  7. Lloyd Rowsey said on December 6th, 2008 at 6:33pm #

    The modern world has been under an ocean of capitalism for at least 500 years, with islands of non-capitalism rising up occasionally, demonstrating that “it need not be so.” But to judge the nature of a modern world without capitalism by the nature of these islands, is to predict the nature of the continents from islands.

  8. Glenn said on December 6th, 2008 at 7:30pm #

    Thanks Dennis.
    It indeen seems true that the ideal way to operate our society, including the economic sphere, would be to work for the benefit of all.
    However, there is a selfishness in man that is impossible to deny; that turn to dust our best efforts at forming such a society.
    It seems to me as a Christian that the only way such a society could exist is if we ALL were united in our values and care for each other, and such a path requires a united faith.

    And John, this world is so full of noise, of conflicting messages, that people become easily mislead. Please do not confuse Christianity with the deceived acts of man. “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:7-8

    Many people do things in the name of God. But search first their motives. And don’t seek or expect perfection on this earth, because you wont find it.

    A final comment: one of the greatest impediments to justice on this earth is patriotism. It is one of the most powerful tools of control political leaders have at their fingertips, that pits nation against nation in ignorance, and prevents us from sharing and giving and helping. An expression of selfishness writ large.

  9. Jeremy Wells said on December 6th, 2008 at 10:16pm #

    “Must we wait for radicalizing consciousness to emerge only after we’re all destitute and probably homeless?”

    Destitute and homeless conditions do not inevitably point masses to a socialist direction. More than likely in the U.S. under present conditions, a form of fascism would emerge, as it did after WWI in Europe.

    In this country, the vast majority – the working class – are the victims of capitalism. The “unsuccessful” are forever blamed for their impoverished condition. Many non-white “revolutionary” groups blame white racism for their condition, refusing to consider capitalist class war as the root cause.

    Perhaps the Obama presidency will end this delusion of blaming the white race for the vast destruction taking place caused by capitalism. But Obama-mania runs deep.

    Check out the World Socialist Web Site to understand, at least for yourself, what an international and socialist perspective actually is all about. On-line daily, free 6 days a week, for over ten years. Sponsored by the Socialist Equality Party

  10. Deadbeat said on December 7th, 2008 at 1:45am #

    Barack Obama may put forth a new New Deal, and the relief it would give hard-pressed Americans would be most welcome. However, there are those who feel, with strong reason, that the present crisis will be even more devastating, and longer, than the original Great Depression.

    I haven’t checked the data so may comments is based on a supposition. The reason why the current situation is worst than the Great Depression, IMO, is due to the how the working class has come to embrace capitalism since the end of WWII.

    I don’t think the working class was faced with this level of indebtedness to their bosses coming out of the 1920. In addition the level of conscientiousness against Capitalism was strong in the 1930’s. These two factors is why IMO the solution coming from the government will be inadequate. None of the proposed solution will embrace debt forgiveness. IMO the Left should take the lead on debt forgiveness for the ordinary worker just like the Left demand debt forgiveness for third world nations. This again is one of those opportunities whereby if the Left can lead on this “everyday” issue faced by U.S. workers the Left can educate the masses on the larger issue of “global” capitalism.

    Right now there is a desire by the ruling class to save the system but the New Deal “solutions” of fiscal stimulus IMO, will not work this time around.

  11. Don Hawkins said on December 7th, 2008 at 8:57am #

    The smartest people in the World we call Earth. I have questions?
    The top 100 living geniuses was compiled by a panel of six experts in creativity and innovation from Creators Synectics, a global consultants firm.

    The company emailed 4,000 Britons this summer and asked them to nominate up to 10 living people who they considered geniuses.

    Each genius was then awarded scores out of ten against criteria which included: paradigm shifting; popular acclaim; intellectual power; achievement and cultural importance.

    1=Albert Hoffman(Swiss)Chemist27
    1=Tim Berners-Lee(British)Computer Scientist27
    3George Soros(American)Investor & Philanthropist25
    4Matt Groening(American)Satirist & Animator24
    5=Nelson Mandela(South African)Politician & Diplomat23
    5=Frederick Sanger(British)Chemist23
    7=Dario Fo(Italian)Writer & Dramatist22
    7=Steven Hawking(British)Physicist22
    9=Oscar Niemeyer(Brazilian)Architect21
    9=Philip Glass(American)Composer21
    9=Grigory Perelman(Russian)Mathematician21
    12=Andrew Wiles(British)Mathematician20
    12=Li Hongzhi(Chinese)Spiritual Leader20
    12=Ali Javan(Iranian)Engineer20
    15=Brian Eno(British)Composer19
    15=Damian Hirst(British)Artist19
    15=Daniel Tammet(British)Savant & Linguist19
    18Nicholson Baker(AmericanWriter18
    19Daniel Barenboim(N/A)Musician17
    20=Robert Crumb(American)Artist16
    20= Richard Dawkins(British)Biologist and philosopher16
    20=Larry Page & Sergey Brin(American)Publishers16
    20=Rupert Murdoch(American)Publisher16
    20= Geoffrey Hill(British)Poet16
    25Garry Kasparov(Russian)Chess Player15
    26=The Dalai Lama(Tibetan)Spiritual Leader14
    26=Steven Spielberg(American)Film maker14
    26=Hiroshi Ishiguro(Japanese)Roboticist14
    26=Robert Edwards(British)Pioneer of IVF treatment14
    26=Seamus Heaney(Irish)Poet14
    31Harold Pinter(British)Writer & Dramatist13
    32=Flossie Wong-Staal(Chinese)Bio-technologist12
    32=Bobby Fischer(American)Chess Player12
    32=Henrik Gorecki(Polish)Composer12
    32= Avram Noam Chomski(American)Philosopher & linguist12
    32=Sebastian Thrun(German)Probabilistic roboticist12
    32=Nima Arkani Hamed(Canadian)Physicist12
    32=Margaret Turnbull(American)Astrobiologist12
    40=Elaine Pagels(American)Historian11
    40=Enrique Ostrea(Philippino)Pediatrics & neonatology11
    40=Gary Becker(American)Economist11
    43=Mohammed Ali(American)Boxer10
    43=Osama Bin Laden(Saudi)Islamicist10
    43=Bill Gates(American)Businessman10
    43=Philip Roth(American)Writer10
    43=James West(American)Invented the foil electrical microphone10
    43= Tuan Vo-Dinh(Vietnamese)Bio-Medical Scientist 10
    49=Brian Wilson(American)Musician9
    49=Stevie Wonder(American)Singer songwriter9
    49=Vint Cerf(American)Computer scientist9
    49=Henry Kissinger(American)Diplomat and politician9
    49=Richard Branson(British)Publicist9
    49=Pardis Sabeti(Iranian)Biological anthropologist9
    49=Jon de Mol(Dutch)Television producer9
    49=Meryl Streep (American)Actress9
    49=Margaret Attwood(Canadian)Writer9
    58=Placido Domingo(Spanish)Singer8
    58=John Lasseter(American)Digital Animator8
    58=Shunpei Yamazaki(Japanese)Computer scientist & physicist8
    58=Jane Goodall(British)Ethologist & Anthropologist8
    58=Kirti Narayan Chaudhuri(Indian)Historian8
    58=John Goto(British)Photographer8
    58=Paul McCartney(British)Musician8
    58=Stephen King(American)Writer8
    58=Leonard Cohen(American)Poet & musician8
    67=Aretha Franklin(American)Musician7
    67=David Bowie(British)Musician7
    67=Emily Oster(American)Economist7
    67=Steve Wozniak(American)Engineer and co-founder of Apple Computers7
    67=Martin Cooper(American)Inventor of the cell phone7
    72=George Lucas(American)Film maker6
    72=Niles Rogers(American)Musician6
    72=Hans Zimmer(German)Composer6
    72=John Williams(American)Composer6
    72=Annette Baier(New Zealander)Philosopher6
    72=Dorothy Rowe(British)Psychologist6
    72=Ivan Marchuk(Ukrainian)Artist & sculptor6
    72= Robin Escovado(American)Composer6
    72=Mark Dean(American)Inventor & computer scientist6
    72=Rick Rubin (American)Musician & producer6
    72=Stan Lee(American)Publisher6
    83=David Warren(Australian)Engineer5
    83=Jon Fosse(Norwegian)Writer & dramatist
    83=Gjertrud Schnackenberg(American)Poet5
    83=Graham Linehan(Irish)Writer & dramatist5
    83=JK Rowling(British)Writer5
    83= Ken Russell(British)Film maker5
    83=Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov(Russian)Small arms designer5
    83=Erich Jarvis(American)Neurobiologist5
    91=. Chad Varah(British)Founder of Samaritans4
    91=Nicolas Hayek(Swiss)Businessman and founder of Swatch4
    91=Alastair Hannay(British)Philosopher4
    94=Patricia Bath(American)Ophthalmologist
    94=Thomas A. Jackson (American)Aerospace engineer 3
    94=Dolly Parton(American)Singer 3
    94=Michael Eavis(British)Organiser of Glastonbury 3
    94=Ranulph Fiennes(British)Adventurer 3
    100=. Quentin Tarantino(American) Filmmaker2

  12. Don Hawkins said on December 7th, 2008 at 9:01am #

    Anybody have some people who just maybe could have been on the list?

  13. Don Hawkins said on December 7th, 2008 at 9:15am #

    A big crowd of environmentalists gathered on the grass at Crissy Field on Saturday to send a message to world leaders gathered for climate talks in Poland. Organized by Greenpeace, the event brought about 300 people together to unfurl a banner that said, “Dear World Leaders, We Are Ready to Save the Climate.”

    Event coordinators said they want to urge the United States to commit to finding ways to reduce global-warming pollution.
    A helicopter hovered over the huge postcard while a photographer hired by Greenpeace took aerial photos of the 30-by-50-foot banner. Organizers said the photo would be sent electronically today to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change that is running until Friday in Poznan, Poland. SF Gate

    300 people to save the climate and human civilization I guess that’s enough with a new way of think.

  14. Don Hawkins said on December 7th, 2008 at 9:27am #

    Rupert Murdoch, Prince, Bill Gates, Henry Kissinger, Meryl Streep, Paul McCartney, George Lucas, Dolly Parton, Quentin Tarantino. I picked these names from the 100 Smartest and probably could have put more to help human civilization last say another 50 years. Rupert is one of my favorite.

  15. Alan L. Maki said on December 7th, 2008 at 9:30am #

    This Letter to the Editor was submitted to the Minneapolis Star Tribune for publication which refused to publish it.

    November 12, 2008

    First Wall Street Bankers. Now the Big Three automakers. Who is coming for a handout and free lunch next? The lobbying industry? Maybe the health insurance companies will come looking for a “free lunch?”

    The government is prepared to let the St. Paul Ford Twin Cities Assembly Plant and two-thousand jobs go down the river because there was no money to save this one plant and now tax-payers are being told, not even asked, that they will be bailing out the entire auto industry.

    Obviously free enterprise has failed. Why should tax-payers bailout the Big Three when in a few months the price of each of the Big Three’s stocks should be less than one-dollar a share.

    Tax-payers will have the opportunity to purchase the entire automotive industry for a real bargain for far less than what the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are costing us.

    A board consisting of all the stake-holders could be brought together and we could finally produce quality products which are environmentally friendly… not to mention affordable.

    Capitalism hasn’t worked; socialism will.

    The Big Three cry poverty after they have taken the wealth created by North American workers and invested that wealth in quest of cheaper labor and resources overseas.

    I don’t believe politicians would even consider turning over one penny to these greedy corporations without even having had the opportunity to see their books… all the books, including their international operations.

    What tax-payers finance, tax-payers should own.

    Nationalization under public ownership is the solution to the problems of the auto industry.

    The time has come to put People, Jobs and the Environment Before Corporate Profits!

    Alan L. Maki

    58891 County Road 13

    Warroad, Minnesota 56763

    Phone: 218-386-2432

    Cell phone: 651-587-5541

    E-mail: ten.letyrutnecnull@000ikama

    Check out my blog:

    Thoughts From Podunk

  16. Don Hawkins said on December 7th, 2008 at 9:33am #

    Oh I forgot the Earth is getting colder and in some way’s that is very true.

  17. John Greenwood said on December 7th, 2008 at 9:47am #

    What a ridiculous article. We’ll be like Zimbawe if we follow
    Mr. Rahkonen’s advice. No thanks

  18. Ramsefall said on December 7th, 2008 at 12:40pm #


    with all due respect, instead of littering these discussions with your consistent environmental rambling on which is often completely irrelevant to the topic at hand, why not write something of your own innovation and get it posted/published, hell, start a blog for fuck’s sake. Will nobody listen to you, is that the problem for your incessant talk about anything other than the article on which people comment?

    Sweet baby Jesus, help!

  19. bozh said on December 7th, 2008 at 1:40pm #

    have u forgotten free speech? let the speech go. talk ab anything; in whatever wise one wants.
    its ok to repeat a lesson or message as new readers may come along.
    i often iterate, also. thnx

  20. Don Hawkins said on December 7th, 2008 at 2:11pm #

    I am very sure it is the only way that is if human civilization is to survive. Socialism Democratic socialism. I am going to change my comment name to Bob did anybody see the movie what about Bob it was very good. Bill Murray played Bob and Richard Dreyfuss played Dr. Leo Marvin. Remember the ending it was wonderful. On second thought Don is Ok.

    Bob Wiley: …baby step onto the elevator… baby step into the elevator… I’m *in* the elevator.
    [doors close]

    Bob Wiley: Excuse me, Phil, but with these particular symptoms, is Prozac the right choice?
    Lily Marvin: You think Prozac is a mistake?
    Bob Wiley: Well, with this kind of manic episode, I would think Librium might be a more effective management tool.
    Phil: You could be right. I’ll rewrite the prescription.

    Bob Wiley: [riding in Leo’s car, speaking as Leo drives] It was an interesting morning, fruitful. But it lacked the intensity that you and I generate together, the sparks that we get one-on-one. We just gotta figure out a way to work around your schedule. Could we work afternoons? Two to four? Three to five? Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday?
    Dr. Leo Marvin: AHHHHHH!
    [slams the brakes, gets out of the car, walks around, and opens Bob’s door]
    Bob Wiley: Are you saying you’d rather work mornings?

  21. Don Hawkins said on December 7th, 2008 at 4:31pm #

    The Hubble Telescope has captured an amazing glimpse of more than 100,000 stars moving about closely together in the M13 globular cluster some 25,000 light-years away. The ball of stars, which resembles a sparkling snow globe, has some of the oldest stars in the universe.

    Hummmm some of the oldest stars in the Universe. I wonder how old are they? Are they older than some stars I see on TV doing commercials for reverse mortgages? We must keep asking ourselves the hard questions. So how old are the starts in the Universe? Wait both kind of starts are in the same Universe. Ok the stars that are 25,000 light-years away. Are they 7 day’s old or 8.000 years old or 12 to 13 billion years old. A hint it is a smaller number than was given to AIG for the big bailout and bigger than the number of policy makers it takes to screw in a light bulb. Democratic socialism.

  22. Ramsefall said on December 7th, 2008 at 4:51pm #

    Golly bozh,

    free speech, what a novel idea!

    Dennis has his heart in the right place — communal thinking with equality and balanced distribution of necessities with public ownership. It was a good read, no doubt.

    However, until corruption and greed are exposed to some advanced chemotherapy, they will continue to constitute the symbolic pair of human variables that makes any equation/system imbalanced beyond anything which could be construed as humanitarian. When embracing ethics, socially and environmentally, becomes a priority for all mankind, we might be able to develop a system/ism which effectively serves the whole. Until then…

    Best to all.

  23. bozh said on December 8th, 2008 at 7:20am #

    ur observations r correct.
    i’d just like to add that once the oldest profession (cheating/deceiving) took roots, lower/weaker classes were doomed to eternal serfdom.
    thus, what is happening in US today, had happened and is happening now all over the globe.
    since when? no one knows. nor r deceivers ab to provide funds to study their own usurpation of freedoms; enslavement/enserfment, etc.
    as i have said before, the idea is to raise pigs and not lambs; US’ ‘education’ being more successful in this deception than any other empire is or had been. thnx

  24. Ramsefall said on December 9th, 2008 at 3:11am #


    so long as we’re not raising Orwellian pigs. US education, a bitter oxymoron.

    Best to you.