Most people who are not unemployed or insufferably liberal know that socialism is a terrible socioeconomic system. It’s a life where we’re all equal in the sense that we all suffer together, where the state ultimately runs out of everyone else’s money to fund the endless slew of social programs that dole out sub-par aid to its citizens. We’ve seen 21st century socialism in action, but one Washington Post op-ed writer said it’s time to give it a try:
In the United States, we’ve arrived at a pair of mutually exclusive convictions: that liberal, capitalist democracies are guaranteed by their nature to succeed and that in our Trumpist moment they seem to be failing in deeply unsettling ways. For liberals — and by this I mean inheritors of the long liberal tradition, not specifically those who might also be called progressives — efforts to square these two notions have typically combined expressions of high anxiety with reassurances that, if we only have the right attitude, everything will set itself aright.
Hanging on and hoping for the best is certainly one approach to rescuing the best of liberalism from its discontents, but my answer is admittedly more ambitious: It’s time to give socialism a try.
That capitalism is inimical to the best of liberalism isn’t a new concern: It’s a long-standing critique, present in early socialist thought. That both capitalism and liberal governance have changed since those days without displacing the criticism suggests that it’s true in a foundational way.
Not to be confused for a totalitarian nostalgist, I would support a kind of socialism that would be democratic and aimed primarily at decommodifying labor, reducing the vast inequality brought about by capitalism, and breaking capital’s stranglehold over politics and culture.
I don’t think that every problem can be traced back to capitalism: There were calamities and injustices long before capital, and I’ll venture to say there will be after. But it seems to me that it’s time for those who expected to enjoy the end of history to accept that, though they’re linked in certain respects, capitalism seems to be at odds with the harmonious, peaceful, stable liberalism of midcentury dreams. I don’t think we’ve reached the end of history yet, which means we still have the chance to shape the future we want. I suggest we take it.
Okay—so, is Venezuela prosperous, peaceful, and harmonious? No, it’s a socialist hellhole. People are eating out of trashcans, consuming pets, breaking into zoos to slaughter animals for meat, and has an appalling lack of simple supplies, like soap and gloves for hospitals. I don’t know about you, but a system that forces doctors, teachers, and even children to prostitute themselves for food is not a path we should even indulge. And speaking of Venezuela’s children, they’re starving to death, as is the rest of the nation. The good news is young Americans’ affinity for socialism declines as soon as they find a job.
Exit Question: Will she debate Ben Shapiro on this?
Let’s debate on liberalism in person sometime :) it’s a subject I’m very interested in https://t.co/IHntzLzUif— Elizabeth Bruenig (@ebruenig) March 7, 2018