Let us never forget the unbelievable hypocrisy of Wall Street, the high priests of unfettered capitalism.
In 2008, after their greed, recklessness and illegal behavior created the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression — with millions of Americans losing their jobs, their homes and their life savings — Wall Street’s religious adherence to unfettered capitalism suddenly came to an end.
Overnight, Wall Street became big government socialists and begged for the largest federal bailout in American history — some $700 billion from the Treasury and trillions in support from the Federal Reserve.
But it’s not just Wall Street that loves socialism — when it works for them. It is the norm across the entire corporate world. The truth is corporate America receives hundreds of billions of dollars in federal support every single year, while these same people are trying to cut programs that benefit ordinary Americans.
If you are a fossil fuel company, whose carbon emissions are destroying the planet, you get billions in government subsidies including special tax breaks, royalty relief, funding for research and development and numerous tax loopholes.
If you are a pharmaceutical company, you make huge profits on patent rights for medicines that were developed with taxpayer funded research.
If you are a monopoly like Amazon, owned by the wealthiest person in America, you get hundreds of millions of dollars in economic incentives from taxpayers to build warehouses and you end up paying not one penny in federal income taxes.
If you are the Walton family, the wealthiest family in America, you get massive government subsidies because your low wage workers are forced to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing in order to survive — all paid for by taxpayers.
If you are the Trump family, you got $885 million worth of tax breaks and subsidies for your family’s housing empire that is built on racial discrimination.
When Trump screams socialism, all of his hypocrisy will not be lost on the American people. Americans will know that he is attacking all that we take for granted: from Social Security to Medicare to veterans health care to roads and bridges to public schools to national parks to clean water and clean air.
When Trump attacks socialism, I am reminded of what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “This country has socialism for the rich, rugged individualism for the poor.”
And that is the difference between Donald Trump and me. He believes in corporate socialism for the rich and powerful.
I believe in a democratic socialism that works for the working families of this country.
I take the image below as visual confirmation of Taylor’s claims here:
This is a useful discussion of the Communist Manifesto from a book review by Terry Eagleton at https://www.lrb.co.uk/v33/n05/terry-eagleton/indomitable
“Indomitable” (excerpts) by Terry Eagleton
In 1976, a good many people in the West thought that Marxism had a reasonable case to argue. By 1986, most of them no longer felt that way. What had happened in the meanwhile? Were these people now buried under a pile of toddlers? Had Marxism been unmasked as bogus by some world-shaking new research? Had someone stumbled on a lost manuscript by Marx confessing that it was all a joke?
…. Under capitalism, we’re forced to enter the market just to live. The libertarian sees the market as synonymous with freedom. But socialists hear “the market” and think of the anxious parent, desperate not to offend the insurance representative on the phone, lest he decree that the policy she paid for doesn’t cover her child’s appendectomy. Under capitalism, we’re forced to submit to the boss. Terrified of getting on his bad side, we bow and scrape, flatter and flirt, or worse — just to get that raise or make sure we don’t get fired.
The socialist argument against capitalism isn’t that it makes us poor. It’s that it makes us unfree. When my well-being depends upon your whim, when the basic needs of life compel submission to the market and subjugation at work, we live not in freedom but in domination. Socialists want to end that domination: to establish freedom from rule by the boss, from the need to smile for the sake of a sale, from the obligation to sell for the sake of survival.
From an essay by Elizabeth Breunig, published in today’s WashingtonPost, which is directly relevant to the things we’ve been discussing in class.
In fact, both Sullivan’s and Mounk’s complaints — that Americans appear to be isolated, viciously competitive, suspicious of one another and spiritually shallow; and that we are anxiously looking for some kind of attachment to something real and profound in an age of decreasing trust and regard — seem to be emblematic of capitalism, which encourages and requires fierce individualism, self-interested disregard for the other, and resentment of arrangements into which one deposits more than he or she withdraws…. Capitalism is an ideology that is far more encompassing than it admits, and one that turns every relationship into a calculable exchange. Bodies, time, energy, creativity, love — all become commodities to be priced and sold. Alienation reigns. There is no room for sustained contemplation and little interest in public morality; everything collapses down to the level of the atomized individual.
“Give me a hundred capitalists just as you find them here in Ohio and let me ask them a dozen simple questions about the history of their own country and I will prove to you that they are as ignorant and unlettered as any you may find in the so-called lower class. They know little of history; they are strangers to science; they are ignorant of sociology and blind to art but they know how to exploit, how to gouge, how to rob, and do it with legal sanction. They always proceed legally for the resaon that the class which has the power to rob upon a large scale has also the power to control the government and legalize their robbery.”
— Eugene V. Debs, The Canton, Ohio Anti-War Speech (this is the one that got him charged under the Federal Espionage Act, the same law that Bush II, Obama, and Trump have used against whistleblowers).