Few events in history rival the gap between exuberant optimism and tumultuous reality, great dreams and vain illusions, as the spread of socialism. Its rise and fall constituted one of the most tragic episodes of the last century. It has created unparalleled violence, millions of innocent victims, modern slavery, and environmental disasters of biblical proportions. The movement has gone from spectacular triumphs to humiliating defeats – from victory in Russia in 1917 and the conquest of Eastern Europe and China in the 1930s and 1940s to what seemed an unstoppable march in Africa and Latin America in the 1960s and 1970s, and then to the spectacular implosion of the Soviet Union, the liberation of Eastern Europe, and the economic liberalization of China.
What is socialism? Who are American socialists, and what are they fighting for? Socialism is a political philosophy and economic system that promotes egalitarianism – a theory of economic equality. It is usually defined as “common ownership of the means of production,” which is in the ballpark of the definition given by Karl Marx.
Lenin defined socialism as a society organized on the principle “from each according to his abilities and to each according to his work [contribution].”
But Barack Obama nailed it. In his speech in Berlin, Germany on July 24, 2008, he declared:
This is the moment when we must build on the wealth that open markets have created, and share its benefits more equitably.
The Problem with Socia... Best Price: $9.49 Buy New $12.82 (as of 01:40 EST - Details) Obama clearly was talking about not wealth creation, which would be capitalism, but wealth distribution, which is socialism.
It was an astonishingly ambitious vision for the future president of the United States. And it was not just a vision; he had a plan, and he had a strategy.
Obama, who adopted Marxism as a young man, grew gradually convinced (he had to) that the general theories of Marx, Engels, and Lenin outlined in Das Kapital, The Critique of the Gotha Program, What Is to Be Done, and other communist publications could not be directly applied to the contemporary United States of America. According to Marxist dogma, the transition to socialism and subsequent distribution of wealth must be accomplished by expropriation of the means of production with the imposition of a “dictatorship of the proletariat.” Yet the proletariat – organized masses of working people, who, according to Marx, had “nothing to lose but their chains” – ceased to exist a century ago.
As an ardent Marxist, Obama had read more deeply in Marxism than most contemporary Marxists and came to the conclusion (correctly) that the main purpose for the expropriation of the means of production was not the distribution of wealth, but the subjugation of the population to the government control.
As Leon Trotsky put it, “in a country where the sole employer is the state, opposition means death by slow starvation. The old principle, who does not work does not eat, has been replaced with a new one: who does not obey does not eat.”