How Useful Are Our Isms?

As I have pointed out before, “conservatism”, “liberalism” (and, to some extent, even “progressivism”) are sheer canards

We all wish to conserve many things and also want to have liberty and progress. So, these names mean nothing. They are merely ploys to lure us into one or another political party whose bosses have their own ulterior motives and vested interests, which have little to do with our own. For over three decades, the “choice” between the “conservative” Republican Party and the “liberal” “Democratic” Party has been false, as they both were serving the robber billionaires and their mighty banks and corporations at the hands of their 40,000 Big Money lobbyists.

Lately, older isms have been dug up out of the grave of history. Capitalism and socialism are floating around in conversations again, as well as communism out of the mouths of those who wish to disparage socialism. What exactly do these terms mean and what use do they have?

Let’s first look at the darling in our elite’s narrative: capitalism. Back when traditional capitalism industrialized our nation, all Americans reaped a lot of material benefits. When, over the last several decades, predatory corporate and financialization capitalism de-industrialized our nation, the middle class declined, and poverty and inequality of wealth and income rose. The rich became even richer and more detached from the rest of us for whom they now feel not a bit of sympathy or common cause. All along we have been fed the canard that capitalism is part and parcel with democracy, when the exact opposite is true, and when another of these classical isms (socialism) matches this role much better but was demonized as a tool or source of despotism.

This trick was easy to pull off, because countries which self-identified with socialism mostly chose the communist route, and the communist road map had built into it a dangerous antidote to the historically-grown worry about “bourgeoisie” betrayal (where, essentially, the middle class which first revolted in common cause with the underclass eventually grew cold feet and backstabbed the revolution for fear that it, too, would lose assets and privileges when redistribution would occur). This antidote was the so-called “dictatorship of the proletariat” (in other words, a sole rule of the working class), which was intended as a transitional phase between the overthrow of capitalism and the probably rather Utopian goal of a communist future, in which all people were expected to regard each other as truly equal and all material goods would be evenly shared. As you can guess, transitional dictatorships have a way of becoming permanent and a whole social class can’t be the dictator, so a ruthless strongman rises to the top — a fatal flaw in the communist road map, even if fully understandable given the horrible experiences of earlier revolution attempts since the late middle ages.

Thus, the Soviet Union and other “communist” or “socialist” national or supernational structures became known for despotism and the argument could be easily sold that communism (and socialism, used as synonym) were by nature despotic and, thus, on the opposite end of democracy. And therefore capitalism (on the opposite side of socialism/communism) had to be on the side of democracy. A false logic, especially since it mixes economic models with governance models, but most people aren’t good with logic. The conflagration of socialism (basically an ideology of social justice tied to economic structures) with communism (the Utopian, radical cousin of socialism) made it easy to demonize both alike. To eliminate red flags which might have shown up the trickery, democratically-elected self-identified socialist governments (like Allende’s Chile) were quickly overthrown by our very own CIA, in the service of our economic-political “elite,” so they couldn’t prove the false thesis wrong. Other “leftist” governments, who less strongly identified with socialism and made only mild moves in the direction of socialist ideas for a fair economy – and which called themselves “social-democratic” to distance themselves – were spared such violent treatment. Thus Europe has benefited greatly from them with things like universal health care, long paid vacations, true unemployment insurance, etc. However, just like our own “Democratic” party or “liberals,” their leading politicians were successfully bribed and coerced by robber billionaires and their powerful corporations to sell out the interests of the people and become virtually indistinguishable from the corrupt politicians on the “right,” a.k.a. the self-styled “conservatives” who had sold out even earlier. In this way, only the isms are left as empty labels, while the substance is gone.

Thus, these labels have been very useful to our oligarchs in dividing us, but are much less useful to us. We, the working people of America and the world, would do much better to focus on the issues of a corrupt upper class co-opting our governments and squeezing the life out of our economies and our planet in their greedy pursuit of ever more wealth until nothing is left for anybody else to support their lives.