I’m writing in response to your Thursday, December 26 editorial column by Cal Thomas, “Socialism’s Cyclical Appeal,” in which he attempts to patronize the public with simplistic, 60-year-old Milton Friedman talking points, perpetuating the myth of free markets and the “jealousy of success” that have undermined cross-class solidarity since the day FDR dared float the idea of a future free from fear.
Thomas is projecting when he says that “Socialism is a false doctrine” and lies that it promises “free stuff.”
It is, in fact, the realization of a fully participatory society, where we get what we all pay for in shared social programs that make life livable, that corporations are compelled to participate in the societies that chartered and materially nurtured them, rather than be used as raw material to be exhausted and abandoned. It means that the dignity of longevity community matters more than the speculative asset portfolios of .01% of people on top, where the rich pay their fair share of taxes which are not then stolen by a coopted government in the service of corporate power, rubber-stamping the relentless flow of capital to the managers of a suicidal economy.
It is capitalism, not socialism, that performatively runs its-self into the ground every 10 years so the already precarious lives of people barely holding on to their homes can be preyed on, and those poor and working-class, 53 million of whom are workers making under $18,000 can be further pushed to the margins. It is capitalism, not socialism that flattened wages and destroyed pensions for 3 generations, replacing proportional growth with easy credit at loan sharking rates and creating an imaginary middle class that’s drowning in consumer, medical, and school debt. It is capitalism, not socialism that’s responsible for 3 straight years of lowered life expectancy in America. Unfettered capitalism ripped the heart out of every manufacturing town in America since the assent of neo-liberal privatization while the right wings of both political parties rigged trade deals that left us with Walmart as the nation’s largest employer. Socialism isn’t the reason an avalanche of white-collar criminality goes unpunished while the poor sit in jails because they can’t afford bail for minor infractions, nor is it the reason we have become one of the most socially isolated and atomized societies on earth in the last 30 years. It is not an accident that the largest group of donors to Bernie Sanders campaign are Walmart workers.
Their renewed interest in Socialism is a sign of life. It means that people want to be part of society where they can work hard at meaningful jobs or at least earn life-sustaining wages while having actual time with their friends, family, churches, and schools and not live in fear that they’ll lose everything if they get sick. People are realizing interconnected communities that believe in justice offer more vision and joy than spending our exhausted few free hours with cheaply produced celebrity media that mocks the latent despair of both the stars and the audience. For some, it means finding peace in admitting we were wrong and the realization that we want to wield real power but understand that a muscle isn’t built of a single strand. There is an inspiration in the idea that we don’t have to do this alone. The powerful will always gaslight the country with propaganda from the cold war because it temporarily protects their interests, but globally, capitalism is again crumbling under the weight of its own contradictions and this editorial was in service of an authoritarian future they pretend we should fear from Socialism. But even Thomas must know this isn’t true. Fascism is the natural byproduct of this unsustainable system and it will lead to more horror than most American’s would like to believe we are capable of. We want is a way out of this and Democratic Socialism, solidarity with our neighbors, and power from the ground up that gives working people control of a government that represents them is neither childish nor impossible. Given the environmental and societal upheavals we face, learning to love solidarity is both a joy and a national emergency.