Why I am a Socialist

For starters, it sounds quite contrarian, antiquarian even, in this day and age, to assert one’s “socialism” in the obvious face of History, which changes its make-up several times a decade, anymore: a dab of recession here, a little more war-paint there.

Well, lipstick traces of all possible revolutions notwithstanding, it seems that most advanced Capitalist nations are, in fact, Socialist to a large degree; ironic that a country like China has emerged as an avatar of Capitalism after over half-a-century hatching a billion-plus plots behind its Great Wall of Communism.

The Man-in-the-Street might say: “Communism? Capitalism? It’s all Chinese to me…” Yet, in the West, it used to be Greek, as in Democracy, that most sacred of secular words, except that the man-in-the-street never got Greek: it all just sounded like “Bar-bar-bar”: a barbaric blur of barliamentary politics.

But I digress… In a nutshell, it seems to me that every Capitalist is a Socialist, yet the vast majority of Socialists are not Capitalists: or, at least, not very good ones. Capitalists, that is. Statistically stated, the so-called 1% depend upon the other 99%, in the same way that any given 1% of society—be they rich, poor, or possibly undecided—depend upon the other 99%, no matter how we slice the socio-economic pie. Ain’t nobody rowing the ship of Civilization alone.

Take away the other 99%, for example, and the remaining 1%–or the uncommonly wealthy—will have to work very hard, indeed. Hey: Who’s going to pick up the trash? Even the possibility of a high standard of living vanishes without the help of the other 99%. In reality, this “help” amounts to the most basic, and extensive, case of Welfare there can be.

The fact of affluence itself is entirely relative: one literally gets rich at the expense of all the others. Which is to say: everyone else foots the bill for one’s uncommon wealth. If you are outnumbered 99 to 1, it stands to reason that you will absolutely require more than a little acquiescence, or “help,” from the other 99 in order to produce and maintain your privileged status. Thus the curious paradox of our system, that the most affluent among us represent the most dependent class.

To restate things a scoche: everyone in society is by definition a Socialist; the Capitalist—strictly a fancy pants kind of Socialist.

Being a Socialist, for me, then, simply involves a basic reality check, which I would rather cash in the denomination of actual affirmation, a positive disposition. If I were to look in the mirror and declare: “Hey there, you Capitalist, you!”—that would be an exercise in sheer denial, a frivolous vain conceit. Narcissists, famously, don’t get along well with others, unless those “others” are mirrors.

Being a Socialist, then, is good for the self-esteem, and I recommend it—although 4 out of 5 doctors may disagree. Much better to recognize yourself as something you are, a social being, than to define yourself in terms of something you are, in all probability, not. Moreover, for the self-aware Socialist, the Future is Today: interest-bearing grave plots, not so much (how now: a Pyramid for your bones?) Co-operation, not Competition, is the engine that runs every society: how things get done. Competition itself is a derivative of Co-operation, and is meaningless outside of a co-operative framework to support it.

In conclusion, I’ll note that describing myself as a socialist does not imply any particular political party affiliation. It merely involves a critical awareness of the way things stand. Democrats and Republicans, for example, are all equally Socialists, too, no matter how many times they hit the snooze button on their “dogmatic slumber.”

Now, ever mindful of the Fairness Doctrine, beyond the landscape of this socialist analysis, I will propose an alternative model for your consideration: If the Owners, the Stakeholders, that exceptional One Percent, are still seen as “Capitalists,” then the rest of us, we Ninety-Niners, might be more accurately labeled as Table Scrapitalists.

So: “Trickle me down, Elmo; Trickle me Now!”

Todd Smith lives, writes, and observes the Brave New World Order in St. Louis. He can be reached at bartlebydick@yahoo.com. Read other articles by Todd.