Earlier today I walked past a couple of signs. The first said "Capitalism We Have A Problem" and the second "Make Love Not Capitalism" and thought how typical this was of anti-capitalist sentiment. The message is clear: capitalism is bad, evil, uncool, etc. communism/socialism is cool. It's the romantic unexplored, rebellious, compassionate road not taken (never mind that it has been taken over and over and never with good results) but despite the hipness of being left wing in NYC I've never met a single person who could explain to me HOW communism would make anything better.
I once asked a couple representatives of the "Communist Revolutionary Party" how their system would play out on a day to day basis, for instance, could I still be a clown? After a couple attempts to dodge the question the communist with neatly trimmed hair and a shirt and tie told me that, no. the government would dictate what I did for a living (apparently he didn't consider this slavery) & the scary skinny, apparently unbathed, t- shirt wearing communist with unnaturally black hair that badly needed cutting as well as combing launched into a diatribe about how "Instead of worrying about whether (I could) be a clown, (I) should be worrying about workers in sweatshops in China town cuz that's a **** of a lot more important" never mind that the practices of the China town sweatshops are likely already illegal, this- in a nutshell- is the most common "argument" given for destroying the "capitalist system" : There are people in need. Some people are rich while others are poor. This is wrong and...it logically follows that any wants/needs/desires beyond mere survival are frivolous and something we're all obligated to sacrifice to the "greater good" of feeding and clothing those who are probably in this country illegally in the first place.
I've noticed that card carrying communists like to talk about equality and how capitalism is the root of all evil that holds us back from a better world but they don't generally want to talk about how this better world would be acheived. They'll happily suggest books. Maybe that's because it's easier than saying "first we need to seize the wealth of all the rich people - and kill them if they resist" but actually I think, quite possibly they just haven't really thought about it.
Outright communism paints a revolting picture: toil and drudgery undertaken for the mere sake of surviving or for , as Che Guevara puts it "a new society in which individuals would have different characteristics: The society of communist human beings." This bizarre notion that communism could somehow create a super enlightened race would seem to to have little or no appeal for most Americans, but looking at "The Che Reader", Guevara seems to acknowledge this natural aversion and addresses how to overcome it:
" To build communism, it is neccessary, simultaneously with the new material foundations, to build the new man and woman..... Society must be converted into a gigantic school."
Chilling words, as I consider the many manifestation of this "school" in our own country and particularly in my city: the "free economics" class I started to take at a school here in NY , the "anti war" rallies, the campaign against the PATRIOT Act that I was heavily involved with until I realized it's actual agenda (which the woman who started it flat out admitted to me) factions of "the Green Party", etc. all of which were used to promote communism. Then there are other institutions that don't neccessarily promote communism,per se, but do lean in that direction: the MSM obviously, but also unions including- to my dismay- Actor's Equity Association. Hollywood, public education,...the usual suspects.
The hard truth is it seems to be working - not 100% , of course, as America has too long a history of freedom and enterprise but more and more Americans seem to be losing their instinctive aversion to socialism. 3 illusions that are fairly prevalent in my anecdotal experience:
#1.Thinking Socialism and a Free Market are Not Mutually Exclusive:
An April 11th Rasmussen survey found only 53% of Americans still believed capitalism is superior to socialism, 20% disagreed and 27% were not sure BUT here's the weird part: in a slightly earlier survey fully 70% said they prefer a free market economy. This would suggest that at least 17% of the population think that "socialism" and "a free market economy" may not be mutually exclusive. But this doesn't just show itself in surveys. I have friends who enthusiastically support Obamacare in general but who passionately agree with me that it's wrong to have an individual mandate - but, of course, they want people to be guaranteed access to insurance no matter what their preexisting condition. One friend talked about "the criminally high price" of individual insurance but likes the community rating system that causes those high rates.
There's a sort of consistency in that these friends don't want to hurt the poor or middle class and individual mandates is the part of Obamacare that would raise expenses even on those making $19,000 a year (which you could barely live on in New York City even without health insurance) but they don't seem to consider that without the mandate Obamacare falls apart. ( I expect Obama knew that during the primaries and simply lied) If insurance companies are forced to cover people no matter what - why not wait till you're sick to buy insurance?
Too many folks just aren't thinking things through. It's like they think we can create some ideal, utopian society by grabbing piecemeal, the parts of communism that they like and somehow it won't compromise our freedom or productivity. The hard truth is, you have to make trade offs in life, to decide between one course or another. Too many Americans want to have their cake and eat it too.
This actually ties in with the next illusion:
#2. Not Recognizing Communist Ideas as Communist in Nature
I've met Green Party members who talked about how we should have a planned economy as if it was a totally new concept, not connected to anything else in history and somehow ideologically neutral "it's neither left, nor right, it's forward" (which, of course, sounds a lot like "progressive") and still others who said the tax structure should be arranged so "everybody makes about $50,000 a year". Aside from the moral question of whether this would be right- those who support it seem not to give the slightest thought to how it would actually be acheived. "Everybody" making at least $50,000 a year would ( I assume) mean every couple gets $100K. (An income that would've put them in the upper 20% of American households in 2007) How they would bring everyone up to that rather comfortable (in some areas, downright well off) standard of living while removing all incentive to work doesn't concern them and they seem to miss the next logical step ... forcing people to work at the point of a gun - just as guaranteeing insurance to the already sick means forcing healthy people to buy insurance they don't need .
#3 The Maddening and Absurdly Inaccurate Notion that Cuba is Thriving Under Socialism
This topic really needs its own diary. Briefly, as I'm sure you all know, the left loves to promote the idea that Cubans love socialism (which I guess is considered interchangable with and the more pc term for communism) they do this generally by posting misleading statistics taken out of context.
One common claim: Cuba has virtually no homelessness. 85% of Cubans own their own homes and mortgage payments can't exceed 10% of a household's combined income. Let's consider these claims in light of this information from "The Housing Dimension in Cuba's Urban Crisis: Havana as a Case in Point"
"Even a superficial visitor would be impressed by the deterioration and outright destruction that this once proud and beautiful city has experienced since 1959. The visual aspect of the older part of Havana resembles in many places the destruction experienced by cities in Europe during World War II. The complete collapse "derrumbe" of buildings, or the partial derrumbe leaving only its external structure, is impressive. Rubble from those "derrumbes" often is left in place for long periods, obstructing the streets and sidewalks. No less impressive is the generalized state of disrepair in the form of lack of paint and peeling of the external structure and the outright partial derrumbes, with buildings that have gone without adequate maintenance for decades."
Official statistics corroborate the visual perspective. According to 1997 statistics, metropolitan Havana had over 2,200,000 inhabitants living in 560,000 dwellings. Of these, half were ranked as defective or in bad condition, while 60,000 were beyond repair and should be demolished. There are 75,000 with "apuntalamientos" and over 7,800 are waiting to be "apuntaladas" to prevent their derrumbe. (San Lazaro) According to the same source, by 1996 there were 188 marginal neighborhoods, lacking the most essential services, comprising 23,000 dwellings and 76,000 residents. Another official report indicated the presence of 1,500 (ciudadelas-cuarterias), 1000 of which were ranked in bad condition. Due to the derrumbes, a total of 6,000 families needed shelter (albergue), while only 350 had received it; also 500 multidwelling buildings were in great risk of a derrumbe and 40 were considered to be "miracously" still standing."
If this research is accurate, then that would mean many of the "85%" who own "their own home" actually own it jointly with other members of their family and that at least half are living in horrible conditions. This carries out over other statistics as well.
It's better to rent a house than own a hovel.
More to say about Cuba but it's going to need to become it's own post.