By Manifesto Joe
It caused me great pain and consternation to see a CNN anchor trying to interview a Tea Party leader during the big 9-12 march on Washington on Saturday afternoon. The anchor stammered something about the U.S. being a "democracy" and that capitalism is our system of government, or something to that effect.
It was appalling that the Tea Party fool had at least been paying some attention in high school civics and was half-right about one thing, in contrast to the anchor. He said that the U.S. is a "not a democracy," but rather "a republic." He was somewhat right on that point.
The U.S. is generally described as a democratic republic, with the former word the modifier in that there is a great deal of democracy, direct and indirect, codified at different levels. As a republic, it is offset by federal checks and balances, and by the fact that we are largely governed by representatives rather than through direct referendums and such.
But then the Tea Party fool veered off in the usual phallus-headed direction, saying something to the effect that the Constitution does not allow things that should be personal responsibility, such as the provision of health care. The CNN anchor kept stammering and was totally ineffectual at shooting down this pig dung, which is precisely what media professionals are supposed to be trained to do.
The U.S. Constitution does not address issues such as health care, one way or the other. It is silent on the subject, neither prohibiting nor institutionalizing a federal role.
If there were anything there that the federal courts could construe as a prohibition of any kind, then Medicare and Medicaid would both have been declared unconstitutional long ago. Even when the Supreme Court has had conservative majorities, as it has mostly had in recent times, there's no way they were ever going to go there, because it simply isn't there.
Medicare and Medicaid are both single-payer systems for specific groups, and could therefore be described as "socialized medicine" for the benefit of qualifying people. There is nothing in the Constitution that forbids certain sectors of the U.S. economy from being "socialized."
This brings me to some of the salient points that this CNN anchor, and the Tea Party cretin with whom he was botching an interview, fail to grasp in the least.
Democracy, and Republics, are POLITICAL systems. Capitalism and socialism are ECONOMIC systems.
There is no intrinsic relationship among any of the above. There are democratic republics that one would characterize, in economic terms, as semi-socialist -- to wit, the Scandinavian countries, and to a lesser extent the rest of western and central Europe. There have been many dictatorships that have not only tolerated capitalist enterprise, but have encouraged it.
Moreover, redistribution of income does not constitute socialism. ANY sort of taxation and appropriation redistributes income. It is strictly a question of to whom. The basic definition of socialism is ownership of the MEANS OF PRODUCTION by either government or cooperatives.
Contrary to wrongheaded right-wing attempts to link socialism with all authoritarian governments, Nazi Germany operated with the loyal support of Germany's industrialists, such as IG Farben. In fascist Italy, Mussolini, a one-time socialist, outlawed strikes, hammered down wages and put a lot of socialists in jail. Capitalist enterprises had no problems operating, with gracious deference, in Franco's fascist Spain.
To summarize, there are:
1. Semi-capitalist dictatorships
2. Semi-socialist/mixed system democratic republics
3. Socialist dictatorships (the old USSR, etc.)
4. Countries like China (commies-in-name who make American capitalists look like warm fuzzy liberals)
5. Mostly capitalist republics like the U.S., with lightly mixed economic systems and which feign democratic institutions, but are mostly ruled by big-ass money (plutocracies).
In short, political and economic systems, while related, are to some extent two very different animals. They can, and have been, mixed and matched in all sorts of ways, according to the mores of their populations and ruling elites.
Now here is a point that will modify most of what I've written above:
There has never really been, and probably never will be, an economic system in the world that is either purely capitalist or purely socialist.
Read your history, and check out the current world situations. They are pretty much all mixed systems, merely differing in the mix. The U.S. is the perhaps the world's prime example of a system weighted very much toward capitalism. But even here, much has changed in about a century, and it was arguably of necessity. Can you imagine what daily life would be like for a very large minority of the population if we had no Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid? No GI Bill? No workers' comp? No OSHA? Or even lacking some of the less-popular programs, such as food stamps and AFDC?
I can tell you one huge truth -- the fact that we eventually got those things is the main reason that communist movements never took hold in this country the way they did in other parts of the world. To wit: During the 1930s Depression/Dust Bowl era, Oklahoma had a surprisingly large and active Communist Party membership, inspired no doubt by a lot of hungry bellies. About 75 years later, that state is one of the most Republican in the country.
Want a vivid picture of what America looked like, circa 1905, from the viewpoint of an underclass worker? Read The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. It's on a lot of American literature reading lists.
You want to really fight communism? Support a measured, reasonable welfare state.
To wrap up, it was very dismaying to see a "professional" TV journalist getting his ass pathetically kicked by a Tea Party half-wit. It doesn't take a degree in either economics or political science to grasp most of these concepts. The 100-200 level of courses, plus some common sense and a willingness to read a few of the pertinent books, is what I would expect of any person professing to become a real journalist.
Unfortunately, what we largely have on the current scene are a lot of pretty-faced DJs with amnesia.
Manifesto Joe Is An Underground Writer Living In Texas.