Newsweek: None of Us Are Really Socialists, Still

Real-life socialist Paul Street (ZNet, 3/5/09) takes issue with a Newsweek cover story “about the Obama administration’s economic recovery and bailout plan… that ‘…has already–under a conservative Republican administration–effectively nationalized the banking and mortgage industries.'” Though the piece bore “the remarkable title ‘We are All Socialists Now,'” Street lists “four key things missing from this remarkable Newsweek report”:

1. Any remotely accurate understanding of socialism as it is grasped and advanced by its modern-day adherents: democratic workers’ and peoples’ control of economic and political life in the interests of social use, equality, and the common good instead of private gain and social hierarchy….

2. Any survey or other opinion data showing that most Americans think of themselves as “socialists.” No such data exists, thanks in part to U.S. cultural and ideological authorities’ longstanding success in identifying left-democratic and libertarian ideals with the arch-authoritarian, fake-socialist tyranny of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and the like.

3. Discussion with a single solitary actual U.S socialist to get his or her take on whether or not the broad mass of Americans have now suddenly embraced a socialist worldview and program.

4. Any reasonable understanding of the fact that capitalism and capitalists have long relied on state protection, subsidy and regulation–that supposedly “free market” capitalism has always been state capitalism.

Wondering “why on Earth they would advance” such a strange and “transparently false” claim, Street comes back to old motivations: “Part of the explanation, I suspect, is simply that they wanted to sell issues with a spectacular title” that “strike[s] a chord amidst the deepening capitalist economic crisis and in light of the Republican Party and right-wing media’s hysterical neo-McCarthyite claims that the Obama administration is introducing, well, ‘socialism.'”