By J. Stewart Cook
I was somewhat taken aback, but not entirely, when I read the latest poll by The American Culture and Faith Institute regarding the rise of “socialism” in the USA.
Should one be surprised? I think not! There are all kinds of reasons why people “flirt” with changing the social or political systems of one’s country. Some reasons are very superficial, others are profound. Yes, some will flirt with the idea, while others will use subversive treasonous ways to reach their ultimate goal.
In contrast to socialism is capitalism. Is one system superior to the other? Or does one system perform better than the other depending on the country and its people? Perhaps a blend of socialism and capitalism is the ideal system for any country.
In a nutshell, socialism is defined as “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”
On the surface, it sounds like a viable system where all should be content and prosper! Nevertheless, without getting into a long discussion of the merits of socialism, or its weaknesses, let us look at the rise of socialism in the United States.
For the most part, the leaders of our educational systems have never hesitated to espouse the benefits of socialism, especially at the university level. The educators like to sit in their ivory towers and contemplate a world of peace where a “socialist” system would be ideal for the country. Convincing those who are to be the “learned” of society, that socialism is the most advantageous system, only reinforces the concept that socialism brings peace to a society. Of course, history has proven differently!
So, why now one asks. It’s not really now. It always has been, however, certain “conditions” within society will trigger thoughts as to the manner in which a country should be governed and which system is better suited for the country.
The USA is probably the most “capitalist” country in the world. Like any system, there is always room for abuse, or should one say a system which is more favourable, advantageous to some than to others. Have the benefits of capitalism been concentrated within one grouping of society or dispersed amongst all? Have the benefits been exaggerated? Have corporations and individuals been rewarded with huge sums of monies, which truly do not reflect the efforts made to justify such monies?
Over the many decades, we have seen vast amounts of monies flow into the pockets of individuals which may not be justifiable. For example, those in the entertainment industry have reaped the benefits of its success with vast amounts of monies. This could also be said of the technology industry. As well, those in the sport’s industry saw great wealth being created. The advertising industry soon became the major beneficiary of the sports and entertainment industries over the past years. Very young people, including those without education or experience, have been the beneficiaries of the capitalist system. Don’t get me wrong, there are many others who have been large contributors to the well being of society within a capitalist system. They deserve to be well rewarded, nonetheless, a imbalance has occurred with more people seeking an adequate standard of living but are unable to reach such a goal.
In the present context, the last election gave an opportunity to those espousing socialism to convince the electorate that this was a viable change and long overdue. Bernie Sanders was the ultimate crusader for socialism. Not a “true” socialist, though perhaps at heart, he did convey some of the more beneficial aspects of socialism throughout the election. He spoke of other countries governed by socialism which eradicated poverty. Bernie Sanders basically “stirred the socialist pot” and drew the attention of those who wished to live in a democracy and at the same time share the wealth amongst all. Even President Trump talked extensively about the elite and wealthy running the Capital and the country for too long. Not that he was making a case for socialism, but rather emphasizing the need to better distribute the wealth amongst all citizens.
What is somewhat alarming are the polling numbers which confirm “that 40% percent of Americans now prefer socialism to capitalism.” And this “could spell major change to the policies advanced by legislators and political leaders and to the interpretations of judges ruling on the application of new and pre-existing laws.”
We must keep in mind that our values have changed. Many of them are “socially” based. For example, abortion, same-sex marriage, homosexuality, etc. all contribute to the movement towards socialism. Will these new values lead to a socialist system for the USA? I do not believe so. Some may believe so, but with a caveat…”not in my backyard, thank you!”
The American Dream…”the idea that all people can have happy and successful lives if they work hard.” This idea has faded over the years. “This concept has been subject to criticism, because some people believe that the structure of society in the US prevents such an idealistic goal for everyone. Critics often point to examples of inequality rooted in class, race, religion and ethnicity that suggest that the American dream is not attainable for everyone.”
One prominent American once gave a speech known as the “I have a Dream” speech. It wasn’t about capitalism, nor about socialism, but it was about equality for all Americans. Perhaps this will be the new “American Dream,” the equal distribution of wealth and benefits for the well being of all Americans.