Socialism May Be Implemented Even When Rejected

The Gallup polling organization recently noted, "For the first time in Gallup's measurement over the past decade, Democrats have a more positive image of socialism than they do of capitalism."  This does not represent a dramatic shift since 2010; rather, Frank Newport suggests that "[a]ttitudes toward socialism among Democrats have not changed materially since 2010, with 57% today having a positive view.  The major change among Democrats has been a less upbeat attitude toward capitalism, dropping to 47% positive this year – lower than in any of the three previous measures."

Although the Socialist Party never won control over either house of Congress, and never won the presidency, the reader will not be surprised to observe that huge sections of its 1912 platform have been implemented during the past century.  For this reason, all righteous constitutionalists should be not only concerned, but alarmed to see a movement consciously toward socialism in one of our two major parties.  If so many socialist ideas of 1912 have been implemented while elected officials, at least publicly, disavowed socialism, how much more the danger of implementing socialism if the Democrats are "soft" on socialism, or even embracing of it?

The Socialist Party platform of 1912 was divided in four, preceded by a theoretical and emotional prologue stating the ideological position of that party.  The platform itself included the following divisions: (1) Collective Ownership, (2) Unemployment, (3) Industrial Demands, and (4) Political Demands.

The prologue of that platform of 108 years ago is filled with supercharged phrases presenting a wholly negative critique of our economic system.  Phrases and terms included were "incompetent and corrupt," "exacts an annual tribute," "greedy," "plundered," "extortionate," "crushing the class of small business," "yoke of bondage," "poisonous conditions," "perils of life," "children of the working class are doomed," and "oppression."  It vilifies the "capitalist class" (today, that would be the top 1%) and, using a classical Marxist frame of reference, declares that while there are many warring classes, the two main warring classes are the capitalist class and the working class.

In that platform, the Socialist Party did not consider the term "class warfare" metaphorical, merely suggesting a vigorous competition between and among disparate interests.  This warfare was to be taken literally.  Whatever any socialist might or might not say about violence, the language of class warfare, for Karl Marx, meant a real and intense battleground between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat for control over the means of production.  This war had to lead to violent revolution because the bourgeoisie would never relinquish control over the means of production voluntarily – i.e., under ordinary democratic or quasi-democratic processes.  The processes were considered "quasi-democratic" by Marxists because the people are manipulated and controlled by the capitalist class through the political process.  

Under the "Unemployment" category, the 1912 platform calls for large-scale public works.  Is that not exactly what we saw during the New Deal with the so-called alphabet agencies such as the Public Works Administration (PWA), the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC)?  The Socialists also called for the eight-hour work day.  At the same time, Theodore Roosevelt, running as the "Bull Moose" in 1912, also called for the eight-hour work day.  Two years later, ironically, the nine-hour work day was reduced to eight hours by the capitalist Henry Ford, and in 1916, the Adamson Act passed, establishing an eight-hour day for railroad workers.  The Interstate Commerce Commission had already established tight governmental regulatory control of the railroads by that point, a direct result of populist and socialist agitation in that direction.  Thus, while capitalism had not succumbed to government ownership of the means of production, we see in these instances how socialist ideas had begun to penetrate the corporate world, as well as both the Democrats and Republicans.  Thus, do not become complacent when you see socialism or socialists ridiculed on Fox News or read that they have lost some elections.  Ideas have a way of becoming mainstream even when they are (apparently) being rejected.

The Socialist platform in its "Industrial Demands" section called for the 40-hour work week.  This was also established for about 20% of U.S. industry under the Fair Labor Standards Act enacted under Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal.  The Socialists' platform also included provisions forbidding child labor and called for the enactment of minimum wage laws.  These are now standard provisions in our labor regulations.  Further, the Socialists insisted in this section of their platform on old age pensions, which during the New Deal became our Social Security system, which in turn was later expanded to include disabilities and Medicare.  How many are aware how deeply we have embraced the socialist ideas of a century ago?

Under the "Political Demands" section of their platform, the Socialists called for the creation of a U.S. Department of Education, imposition of a graduated income tax, women's suffrage, and the separation of the Department of Labor from the Department of Commerce.  All of these demands have been passed as law.  In the same section, the Socialists called for the end to the Electoral College, which is still a popular theme of the Democrats since Al Gore and Hillary Clinton lost their presidential elections.

The Constitution was directly attacked by their call for the abolition of the U.S. Senate and the veto power of the president, both of which features of our legal system withstood the Socialist objections.  But it is important to see that the Socialists even 100 years ago had launched a full frontal assault on our Constitution as the framework and foundation of our liberty under law.

Only in their program of "Collective Ownership" were the goals of the Socialist Party not met over time.  Instead, the people decided on regulation instead of ownership.  The Socialists wanted ownership of all banks, all transportation, all mines, all means of communication, all land, and all banking.

Beginning their 1912 platform with paragraph after paragraph using language of utter hate and contempt for all that America was and had achieved by 1912, by ignoring the power and plenty that had been achieved within the context of liberty under law, the Socialist Party revealed itself as having malignant attitudes and beliefs.  Yet, many – I daresay most – of the planks in their platform were nevertheless absorbed into the mainstream of American political life.  In one sense, this is a testimony to the flexibility and open-mindedness of the American psyche, but in another sense, it reveals a pandering to demagogues.  For the righteous constitutionalists, the idea of protecting people from exploitation or injury is legitimate, but the perils of policing society via an omnipresent government itself lead to untold harm.  For this reason, even seemingly reasonable demands made by socialists should be rejected.  Consider the source.

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