The Great Recession Blog
by David Haggith
Socialism is the price Capitalism pays for unrestrained and unpunished greed, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the new face of Socialism in America. AOC refers to her Socialist revolution — for now wrapped up in the Green New Deal before congress — as the “politics of optimism,” and so it is. That’s because Socialism is the direction to which hope among the young and idealistic most often flows when Capitalism run by the old has grown corrupt and exhausted and is destroying itself with unrestrained greed and unpunished financial crimes.
AOC warned that America is grappling with the consequences of putting “profits over everything else in our society” for so long, and that the capitalist system, as it stands, is “irredeemable.”
Of course Socialism in many nations around the world, such as the former Soviet Union and Communist China, has proven irredeemable many times, too. It takes a heavy hand to force people to give what they don’t want to give and to work if they don’t have to. That history, however, does not have the ear of the young, while Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders and, to some extent, Elizabeth Warren, do. But AOC puts the nicest face on it.
She’s fun, vivacious, beautiful, energetic, photogenic, friendly, and very communicative. I have no doubt she is well intentioned and genuinely cares about the poor and middle class. Most Socialists are. However, just as Capitalism is subject to being undermined and exploited by the greedy and self-serving, Socialism has proven equally prone to being overtaken by the powerful and oppressive who need to control others.
Revolution is growing everywhere in the world because the sins of corrupt bankers were not published and the divide between the haves and have nots is growing. A Socialist revolution against the US establishment is forming on society’s Left flank where we hear its drumbeat growing. On the Right, you can hear the war trumpets of the Trumpeteers, and somewhere on the fringe of nowhere you can hear the chaos of anarchists.
All are rebellions forming against a greedy, unsinkable establishment that has managed to stuff 80% or more of the nation’s wealth into the pockets of 10% of the people. So, that, to me, is where we need to focus our attention. We need to correct the deep economic flaws that are energizing all of this.
This greedy take by the 10% (and especially by the top 1%) developed, in good part, because of reduced tax breaks for the establishment that, in most cases, offer lower tax rates than those paid by the middle class (thanks to 35 years of discounts on income earned from capital gains where the wealthy make all their money and a cap on their Social Security contributions, which also benefits only the wealthy). It also came about because of numerous tax loopholes that benefited only the rich for decades and because of corporate welfare that that transferred wealth from the middle class and the poor to the rich. It also happened because all Federal Reserve new free money was given directly to rich bankers to play with as a reward for foisting a decade of financial turmoil on the rest of the world. It happened because for thirty-five years, almost none of that wealth has trickled down.
So long as people allow that continue, revolution will find more strength.
Revolution energized by politics of hate
Some (those with plenty) would call it the “politics of envy.” I would call it the “politics of resentment.” And resentment easily becomes hatred. Like Trump, Ocasio-Cortez is tapping into racial hatred and social anger to put fire behind her movement:
The New Deal was an extremely economically racist policy that drew little red lines around black and brown communities and it invested in white America. It allowed white Americans access to home loans that black Americans didn’t have access to, giving them access to the greatest source of intergenerational wealth.
Trump taps into disenfranchised Whites, and Ocasio-Cortez into disenfranchised Hispanics and other people of color. There bases are much larger than that, but that is where they drive in their grounding rods. (Before you throw battle axes at me, no I did not just say that most Trump followers are motivated by hatred or that most of AOC’s followers are, but it is a deep negative energy both sides are tapping into constantly, driving a wedge through the heart of a broken nation as they do.)
Hatred, resentment, animosity a sense of injustice provide abundant energy sources for Socialist revolution. The banker barons who destroyed the global economy still hold the reins of political power, keeping that energy alive. Trump pumped this swamp of humanity into the White House as appointees in all key economic positions. He consulted with the nation’s biggest bankers in picking many of his other appointments; so, many of them are cherry picked by bankers, especially those appointed to the Federal Reserve. Two former Goldman-Sachs bankers even played top roles in developing his tax plan.
Bankers are the figureheads of Capitalism. Because anger over their crimes has not been justly resolved, the anger is directed at Capitalism, itself, for so constantly rewarding the most selfish people in society. It does not occur to these new Socialist revolutionaries that Socialism also rewards the most selfish people in society when corruption in Socialist societies goes unchecked. They see the American system as so hopelessly rigged that they readily believe it must be the worst of all systems to have gotten that way; but they haven’t lived under other systems that became even more corrupt and far more despotic.
That nuance will fall on deaf ears for Democratic Socialists because greed went unpunished. The “moral hazard” we were warned about when banks were bailed out a decade ago has turned out to be broader than just the fact that bankers will repeat their offenses (and have done so many times). The deeper moral hazard is that a chasm widened between the protected, powerful haves and the unheard have-nots. Capitalism, itself, now faces great hazard because moral law was not carried out against criminals who control the system to their sole advantage in thousands of insidious ways.
In the interview quoted above, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez summarizes the need for her Socialist revolution as follows:
I don’t think that an agency that repeatedly and systematically violates human rights can be reformed…I think it needs to be abolished.
Justice will find a way if none is provided
Greed stokes the fuel for its own conflagration until someone like Ocasio-Cortez comes along to strike the match. We have seen this many times in history when Socialist idealists built revolutions that took over entire nations because a Capitalist society did not punish and/or regulate the human greed that can manipulate and wreck any system for its own short-term good.
If we had heeded the biblical admonition to “let justice roll like a river” at the close of the Bush years or during the Obama years, we wouldn’t be here. Trump probably wouldn’t even have gotten elected. Instead, we rewarded them with fabulous wealth.
As John Rubino recently wrote,
The wave of populism/socialism/proto-fascism that’s sweeping the US and Europe is a direct result of the breathtaking hubris of a ruling class that didn’t know when to quit stealing. While it is possible for societies dominated by a small group of rich/connected people to endure and even thrive, they can do so only if the 99% enjoys a rising standard of living and a certain amount of upward mobility. In other words, people will accept the existence of an entrenched elite as long as everyone else does a little better each year.
The establishment in the US, however, was too greedy to allow even zthat much. Ultimately, if the wealthy milk the cash cow for everything there is, the cow’s calf dies for want of milk to sustain its own life. Then there are no cows for tomorrow and eventually no cream for the rich. So, justice finds it own way when we fail long enough to regulate and litigate the crimes born of greed.
That is to say, by eroding the middle class, the rich destroy the huge prosperous consumer base that is needed for purchasing the products that the corporations owned by the rich produce. Underneath our highly rigged stock market, corporations still have to make some kind of profit in order to maintain the illusion that they exist for some other reason than just buying back their own stocks. At some point, greed starves the economic engines of a nation of the fuel they need to run.
Currently, we are here:
Clearly the fuel gauge has hit the red mark.
Another example of the circumstances we have entered is the fact that 50% of all wages go to 5% of the population. (That’s just “wages,” not “gains” from asset trades, which have distended the bellies of the rich even more.)
On the way to cannibalizing their own peasant laborers, the establishment rich have created seething anger among the proletariat forces they are devouring. That is another way the rich fuel their own fire and justice finds its own way if society doesn’t carry out justice.
This uprising for justice is why Ocasio-Cortez is getting way more press than would seem to be a freshman member of congress’ due. The press recognizes that AOC is the best figurehead out there for the Socialist revolution coming from the disillusionment of millennials who are now coming into power. AOC is readily and successfully blaming Capitalism because she has a large, young audience angry at our society’s failings, and Trump hasn’t done any more than Bush or Obama to lock up the criminal elite. (He hasn’t even locked up the single establishment leader he promised he would.)
Even President Trump recognized the threat of “creeping Socialism” in his State of the Union address. He used it deftly to drive a wedge between Democrats in whose party that revolution rests. Several Democrats stood and cheered when the president pledged the US will never go Socialist; but it’s doubtful that even the Democrats can stop themselves from going Socialist. In fact, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said that Trump’s acknowledgment just proved how well her revolution is succeeding. She’s barely elected, and is center stage to both parties.
“I think it was great. I think he’s scared,” she told HuffPost. “He sees that everything is closing in on him. And he knows he’s losing the battle of public opinion when it comes to the actual substantive proposals that we’re advancing to the public.” The different reactions reflect a battle within the Democratic Party that Trump and Republicans are eager to exploit.
One lifetime Democrat says this about the Socialist Revolutionaries who are taking over his own party:
“They” are the new left. Debate a proper label for them if … you want – the resistance, radicals, leftists, whatever. They are why people like me, who have thought of themselves as JFK Democrats all their lives, now view that party as a hostile force. The exact list of policy positions defining them is debatable but it’s unquestionably extreme and, ominously, has become a normalized element of Democratic governance in Illinois. Start with the fringe of the fringe, socialists, who are now a serious force. “Socialists win big in Chicago” was The Nation’s headline on last week’s elections.
Bernie Sanders is too old to carry that flag. Ocasio-Cortez looks exactly like the heroine Millennials and Gen-Xers want to see — one of their own coming into serious power, taking on the establishment with brazen courage at every turn and winning attention and accolades for doing so. She just may be their Joan of Arc, seeking to remove the weight of oppressors.
A new Harris poll shows that Socialism is quite popular with the Millennials and the newest generation — Generation Z:
Generation Z has a more positive view of the word “socialism” than previous generations, and — along with millennials — are more likely to embrace socialistic policies and principles than past generations, according to a new Harris Poll given exclusively to Axios…. The word “socialism” does not carry the same stigma it did in the past, now that it has been resurrected by celebrity politicians like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The poll also showed that “Generation Z prefers ‘socialism’ to ‘capitalism.’” These two groups will make up 37% of the electorate in the next presidential election, and 39% of Americans overall are now favorably disposed toward Socialism.
We already saw the widespread success avowed Communist Bernie Sanders had when he may well have beat Hillary Clinton if not for her protectors within the Democratic Party shutting him out. Sanders launched his 2020 presidential campaign yesterday.
Bernie Sanders — undaunted by President Trump’s plan to attack Democratic “socialism” — launched his New Hampshire campaign Sunday insisting that his “radical” ideas from the run-up to 2016 are right for 2020, embraced “across the board” by his party’s candidates now…. “Those ideas that we talked about four years ago that seemed so very radical at that time, well, today, virtually all of those ideas are supported by a majority of the American people and have overwhelming support from Democrats and independents,” Sanders told hundreds of rallygoers…. “They’re ideas that Democratic candidates all across the board are supporting.” Sanders picked up where he left off during his last run for president, wagging his finger at wage inequalities, the nation’s top one percent of earners
Feel the burn that Bernie started started and add that to the youthful energizing success AOC is now having, and you can be certain this kindling of Socialist revolution is going to set fire to America. As AOC said, the old order can only be abolished because is beyond correction. (Or so it seems.)
Signs of revolution are everywhere now:
The road to Socialist revolution is also the road away from Socialist revolution
We can walk the same road back that created this situation. I don’t want to end with people mistaking this article as saying Socialism needs to come or that Capitalism needs to go. What really needs to go is the paradigm of crony capitalism. The capitalist pigs need to go. Not Capitalism. That will take the fuel out of the fire.
Unfortunately, the nation may go the way so many other nations did when justice didn’t kick Capitalist pigs in their snouts. Communism, where everyone is promised to get a fair share, took countries by storm because in a situation where wealth is divided so unequally, forced equality looks perfect. History is strewn with examples of nations where the new paradigm of Socialism took over just as it is now doing in the US, and those nations became much poorer.
Think particularly of South America, Greece, the Soviet Union, China and Eastern Europe. None of those nations got better for the poor because of their Socialist revolutions. Those nations often become more dictatorial and had fewer human rights because it takes an iron fist to force extreme Socialism down everyone’s throat.
Socialist excess, as it turns out, however, also contains the seeds of its own destruction. We’ve seen the opposite turn as well: Since the Reagan years to, we’ve seen those same nations slip the bonds of Communism to varying degrees and return to being freer markets because people like to be able to control their own destinies and retain the rewards of their labor, and because that system just delivers more to more people. It’s more efficient than central planning. Those nations did better when they became freer markets again.
I hope the anger in America will turn into something more healthy than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s well-intended but ill-informed dreams. That’s why I write this blog, but I think it may be too late. Once Socialist ferver takes hold every possible argument and justification regarding other failed Socialist experiments will be employed by the zealots to maintain their zealotry.
If we want to avoid the worst economic system in the world, then we have to protect and police the one we have from abuse. That is why I started my own “Beat the Establishment” campaign empower this blog to encourage others to do and say all they can now to stop bankers from ruling the nation and to punish their failures and to make sure they die financially with their mistakes and rot in prison for their crimes.
If we don’t, we’ll wind up with a Socialist nation because we let the rot win, and so justice found its own violent path. That means a harshly divided nation. To avoid permanent division, I recommend that, instead of fighting Socialism with rage, we apply our rage to fight the corruption within our existing Capitalist system. Burn out the termites devouring its framework and pillaging those who live under that system.
People are right to be enraged, and AOC is looking to do something about it. Trump, on the other hand, has filled the White House with swamp creatures that need to go. Turn your rage against the insidious evil more than against the benevolent misinformed.
In my next article, I’ll lay a list of simple changes that need to happen to wrest control from the bankers and bring justice to the middle class and poor. (Not simple to get, but simple in concept.) If we fail, the peasants will revolt. They are already in revolt against the most revolting class of all — the financial class. They are us, but we — the middle class — are divided along party lines and ideologies, and the banksters would love to keep us entangled there. The battle is on, and it is only going to intensify; so, it’s just a question of how you will enjoin it.
Focus on the true evil because, on that much, those who love Capitalism and those who love Socialism should be able to agree: the corruption that is crippling our current Capitalist system needs to be purged and punished. The special advantages that are designed to push wealth toward the already rich or that socialize their losses need to be terminated.
It’s going to take a lot of people, clear focus and a lot of energy to “Beat the Establishment.”
Here is the next article in this series: “Fighting Socialist Revolution: The real solution is resolution, not war.”