The rebirth of Socialism in the U.S.: The blood thirsty monster that refuses to die

It took decades to defeat and bury the monster of socialism, but not until it had already taken over 100-million innocent lives. And then just when you think the monster is finally dead, it comes back from the grave to once again terrorize humanity.

Matthew Continetti in National Review:

What to Do About the Rebirth of Socialism

“The most important political event of the twentieth century,” wrote Irving Kristol in 1976, “is not the crisis of capitalism but the death of socialism.” Plenty of self-described Marxist and socialist regimes existed throughout the world, Kristol recognized. It was rather the ideas behind such regimes that had reached a moral and intellectual endpoint. Nor was this passing away entirely to be cheered. “For with the passing of the socialist ideal,” Kristol went on, “there is removed from the political horizon the one alternative to capitalism that was rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition and in the Western civilization which emerged from that tradition.”

The inheritors of the socialist ideal were totalitarian states on one hand and stagnant social democracies on the other. By the end of the twentieth century, these too had passed. China (and later Vietnam) decided that to get rich is glorious, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact states collapsed into squabbling nationalities and kleptocracies, the socialist autocracies that had depended on Moscow for support receded into irrelevance. What Kristol called “a dwindling band of socialist fideists” remained behind, the last remnant of a dwindling faith. “People who persist in calling themselves socialist, while decrying the three quarters of the world that has proclaimed itself socialist, and who can find a socialist country nowhere but in their imaginings — such people are anachronisms.”

Not anymore. If the death of the socialist idea was the most important political event of the last century, then the rebirth of this ideal must rank high in significance in the current one. Just as nationalism has reasserted itself on the political right, socialism has grown in force on the left. In the 21st century, the two ideologies are estranged and antagonistic twins, paired in Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, Jeremy Corbyn and Brexit, Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. The Democratic victory in 2018 has elevated socialism to a height it has not reached in the United States in more than a century. Only in recent weeks, however, have defenders of democratic capitalism become aware of how great the socialist challenge really is. Only now are we beginning to formulate a response.

Take your pick of the headlines. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the most talked about Democrat in the country. Her fellow member of the Democratic Socialists of America, Rashida Tlaib, opened the 116th Congress by saying, “Impeach the mother****er.” Their comrade Ilhan Omar apparently wants to offend every Jewish American by the end of her term. The Green New Deal, Medicare For All, eliminating employer-based health insurance, marginal tax rates of upwards of 70 to 90 percent, requiring corporations above a certain size to obtain a federal charter, the expropriation of wealth, heavy inheritance taxes, free college, universal basic income, abolish I.C.E., the anti-Semitism that has long been socialism’s fellow traveler — what was once radical and marginal is now embraced and celebrated by a large and vocal part of the Democratic party.

Why? The answer goes a long way toward explaining the resurgence of nationalism as well. In “Socialism: An Obituary for an Idea,” the essay quoted above, Kristol exhumed the ideology’s intellectual remains. He explained that the ideal of utopian socialism offered “elements that were wanting in capitalist society — elements indispensable for the preservation, not to say perfection, of our humanity.” Socialism supplied the values, aspirations, goals, and mechanisms of meaning that democratic capitalism could not.

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