Socialism. Its a word that when people hear they either jump up in joy or run for their lives. There are none that are in between when it comes to this word, you either have a clear opinion of it or you do not. I personally cannot blame people to much. Over the twentieth century so many things used the socialist title that its pretty diluted from its true meaning. Socialism is defined as the means of production being in the public hands instead of the private. In laymans term this means that industries such as your local energy company and your job are under your control. Usually through democratic means. In theory it often involves a mixture between the common persons control over their work-life and how resources are allocated through the nation. Unfortunately far left, and just leftist policies in general have been succumbed to witch hunts in recent years and all have but completely left the political frame work.
There is still very much a reason for focus on empowering the modern worker and giving them much more control over the elite. The growing inequality in the first world, the handling of the Great Recession, the growth and power of the modern corporation. All these things need no explanation.
However it is incredibly obvious that performing such a change in a rapid manner can be very dangerous as demonstrated throughout history. I feel that I do not need to explain the horrors that occurred in many of the iron curtain nations. Yes you can say “Well that was hardly socialism” or “It was just a flavor of it”, but I think what people should take away from the iron and sickle era was the dangers of mixing untested extreme ideas with groupthink. A bloody revolution may sound cool and sexy, but at the end of the day modern history has shown that this isn’t how things should be done.
This article focuses on what the route the far left should take and the types of policies it should aim for in the twenty-first century What the far left should focus on is how to realistically bring these changes to their nation. They should be done through modern democratic institutions. Socialist politics should focus on three principles:
Getting key and powerful parts of the economy under the control of citizens.
Focus on installing cooperatives or at least reinventing the relationship between labor and business.
Further pushing social programs and encouraging them to be open for everybody.
In Iceland the people won. After the mass protests due to the recession, they not only had significant reform in their banking system but had their main banks nationalized. In theory this is suppose to give them further control over the banking system as they can elect presidents and parliament members to implement changes. However I feel that this doesn’t give people quite enough power. I feel that installing an official acting similar to something as a head banker of the industries who can be recalled if not elected by the citizens would work best. I also feel that this should be done in other industries as well such as energy with electricity, oil, and when its ready solar. I also feel that there should be a host of state companies dedicated to filling the shortcomings that private companies do not. Companies that work on fill the potholes in the street, clean local beaches, build roads and bridges, etc. A return to the FDR era. And just like banking and energy I feel that people should have the power to elect or at least recall head officials.
The second point is immensely important. A key tenet, and arguably the entire point, of Socialism is to have worker control over in workplace. I find it very strange that where ever “Socialist” revolutions followed worker control didn’t. The only exception to this was Yugoslavia which was inarguably the most successful far left revolutionary state in existence. Citizens should push for government to adopt legislation that encourages cooperatives such as the one introduced during the Argentina recession of workers taking control of bankrupted factories. Imagine if similar legislation was put in the United States during this recession? Possibly if retail cooperatives gain more experience we could have done the same with many mismanaged stores.
There is also the matter of the general setup of unions, which I feel, have to be radically restructured. Unions exclude other workers who are not part of the union, obviously. and because of this its common for some of these workers to feel discontent as they may believe that the unions only work for actions that benefit the union and not the general workers, which is at times true. It comes to no surprise why the average American citizen is getting less fond of unions. I’m going to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure what to do of this situation but I imagine that unions talking and even giving some power within the union to general workers could resolve some issues.
The third point deals with expanding social programs and encouraging them to be available to everybody. I feel that abig reason why some people have such distain for things such as food stamps and reduced energy and whatnot is because they are not receiving any reward from these programs. Does a middle class American get anything from food stamps? This may sound kind of stupid but stop to think of all of the social programs the other social classes do support: medicare, tax credits (such as child claims), and of course social security. Notice a trend here? It seems that when people all benefit from something they are more reluctant to give it up, surprisingly. Imagine instead of food stamps, free food pantries that are located around the area and government subsidized grocery stores. Community centers that have waves a free activities and groups such as swimming pools, boxing classes, and sports teams where middle class youths can go to be on the local soccer team and parents in the lower class can drop their kids off so they can have some healthy hobbies they otherwise wouldn’t be able to have. Not only would this help the problem with the lower classes, but it would also help support the left wing narrative of “we all pitch in, we all receive”.
The left wing in general has it rough in the world over the past few decades. Neoliberalism has become the norm in first world nations, workers rights have been trampled on, welfare and other assistance programs have been squeezed out, inequality has risen, all the while the middle class stagnated or even declined while the poor get swallowed up. Its up to the people to search for alternatives so we can move the world forward.