Friday, June 11, 2021

Is America "Turning Socialist" or Could It Something Else?

In today's world of information overload, we are constantly receiving conflicting talking points, be it dealing with some product (which tastes better, gets your clothes whiter, or makes you lose weight and look buff without really trying). It's probably worse when it come to politics or the economy, which are so interlaced that they're really one in the same, that we don't know what or who to believe.

Some want you to believe that America is headed down the path to socialism (or Marxism or Communism), while others will tell you we're falling under the influence of fascism or some modern construct of it just as the media will try to convince you that racism is rampant and everywhere; lurking just around the next corner.

Who to believe? Of course, it all depends on what agenda these groups are pushing, but whatever they claim the problem is, you can bet that someone else is to blame and they have a solution that requires nothing more complicated than your credit card number.

The ones who tell you we're headed down the road to some form of socialist dystopia are typically on the political Right, and the further to the Right they are the worse they make it seem. Meanwhile, those on the Left will tell you just the opposite. They'll say that America is shifting to the Right and pretty soon we'll see hobnail jackbooted goons goose stepping down the street.  Of course, both sides will point their finger at the other and yell "Nazi!" since they're the catch-all for everything vile and evil.

So, what's the truth? In fact, is there a single "truth" anymore or has everything become so distorted that reality has merged into a murky illusion? Our national heroes have proven to be all too mortal and flawed.  Third rate piss ant dictators and sexually repressed religious fanatics routinely threaten us without fear. We no longer know what we stand for. Captain America's shield has turned to rust and Wonder Woman is turning tricks on the corner to buy her next fix. How the mighty has fallen.

They say that truth does a soul good, so let's be truthful with each other. Is America really becoming socialist like some claim or are turning fascist as others say? Well, first off, they aren't the same. Socialism (including democratic socialism), along with Marxism, and Communism, are on the Left side of the political spectrum. Fascism and its first cousin, Nazism, are on the Right.

Under Communism, there is no private ownership of capital. That means no corporations. No "mom and pop" stores. No private property. No private ownership of almost anything. Everyone works for the state because the state owns everything. You exist solely to serve it. Everyone is educated by the state. The state strictly controls the economy and money supply, which functions on a five or ten year plan.

There is a single "official" political party, though in theory, both the state and the party are to gradually fade away over time. In a few cases, small political parties might be allowed to exist, but they have no impact. They control the media and everything that's comes out of it, at least as it pertains to the government, the economy, and the party. Any active opposition is strictly forbidden.

In "democratic socialist" countries like Scandinavia, there is a limited form of socialism. Private ownership of businesses and property are encouraged, however, they are highly taxed, as are wages. The average personal tax rate is 48.75% (Sweden and Norway have a flat tax). The much of the revenue goes to public services like subsidized housing, healthcare, education or to infrastructure support. While their corporate tax rate is lower than America's, they have a mandatory minimal rate that all corporations pay. We don't. Here, many large corporations, like FedEx or Nike, pay little or nothing.

These countries are typically ranked at the top when it comes to general health (which emphasizes preventive care), longevity, happiness, quality of education. They have mandatory "mental health" leave in addition to liberal vacation time. They encourage physical fitness, have generous paid maternity leave for mothers and fathers and provide for child and elder care. Part time work is encouraged.

Their education systems are top notch, especially in math and science. In addition, they tend to have strong unions with excellent benefits, a large number of employee owned co-ops. They also tend to have very liberal laws when it comes to certain recreational drugs (especially  marijuana).

Politically, they have proportional or parliamentary style governments, so all parties are represented. The average voter turnout is 82.5%.  In the United States it's averages 60%; often lower, 40% during midterm elections. In terms of freedom of the press, the Scandinavian countries all rank at or near the top while the U.S. has dropped from a high of 20th in 2010 to 47th in 2016.

Here in America, we need to remember that the 40 hour work week, OSHA laws, Social Security, unemployment benefits, minimum wage, anti-Trust laws, child labor laws, union organizing, the various environmental laws, Title VII (which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, age, gender, ethnic group, religion, or sexual orientation), wage protection, and voter laws (starting in the 1920's which prohibited "poll tax" through the 1965 Voting Rights Bill) were all viewed as "socialist" or simply "Un-American" at the time; every single one of them!

Yet, can we imagine not having them? Sadly, it seems that any changes which affect the interest of the wealthy Status Quo (or their bottom line) is always viewed as somehow "Un-American" and whatever other tag we care to add to it. We tend to get caught up in the perception of something rather than its intent.  That brings us to the second part of this article, fascism.

Fascism, in its many variants, has existed throughout history.  Many see it as a type of militaristic oriented government such as ancient Rome under the Caesars or the Vatican during the Middle Ages, and there's some truth to that. They did create a very authoritarian and orderly society, often with a strong military. Society itself tended to have strong special interest groups too, such as merchant, shipping, or banking guilds, often comprised of wealthy elites like the Medici.  

Modern fascism owes its origins to the industrial state and the rise of powerful and wealthy businessmen who were able to buy the influence of whoever they wanted, be it governors, senators, representatives, or even presidents. The Robber Barons of the 19th and early 20th century or the modern corporate raiders of the 1980's are prime examples.

In the early 1920s, following WWI, a socialist turned conservative nationalist newspaper writer, Benito Mussolini, created the Fascist Party of Italy (the "PNF") by merging elements of the political Left and Right, with the interests of wealthy corporate class. The government was run by a council of business and political elites who elected Mussolini as its "President". Competition was suppressed or eliminated, both politically and in business. The media flourished, provided it wasn't critical of the government.

Education was subsidized so that everyone went to school and teachers were well paid, provided a state approved curriculum was taught. Workers were well paid, hours fixed, and benefits provided, but no strikes or walkouts. Thus, fascism borrows from the both sides of the political spectrum and merges the government into a symbiotic relationship with big business. Sound familiar?

What about Nazism? Isn't it "socialist" since it's their name? The short answer is "no". It comes from both a misunderstanding (often deliberate) of Hitler's use of the term and our lack of political knowledge (not to mention history), not to mention that it's a great scare tactic!

Nazi stands for "National Socialist German Workers Party"---NSDAP in German (prior to Hitler, it was originally the "German Workers Party" or DAP). Hitler was a huge fan of Mussolini and his Fascist Party. In the 1920's Hitler decided to model his NSDAP on the Fascist ideal, however, instead of governing council, it would be a governed by a political party and Hitler would be the head of it. As the saying went, "Germany is the party. The party is Hitler. Hitler is Germany".  

Hitler's use of "socialism" meant community, which included many social programs popular at the time such as unemployment insurance, health benefits, housing for homeless, public supported schools, plus they promoted public hygiene. He also merged all unions into a single state union.

No one in the 1920's, 30's, 40's or decades afterwards ever considered the Nazis to be anything other than a Right Wing party. As an aside, when they came to power in 1933, it was as part of a coalition of conservatives parties which included the DNVP (German National People's Party), and the Centre Party (the conservative Catholic party).

The Nazis were also part of the Patriot Movement, which consisted of numerous smaller political and special interest groups opposed the Versailles Treaty, as well as the Racist/Volkisch Movement which saw the German speaking peoples as the dominate people of Europe. They were also anti-Semitic.

Given that the Left leaning Democrat Socialists, whose leadership was mostly Jewish, agreed to the despised Versailles Treaty and reparation payments, along with hyperinflation which had hit Germany hard in 1922/23 (their average inflation rate was 322% per month. A loaf of bread in early 1922 cost 160 Marks. By late 1923, it was 200,000,000,000), followed by the severe economic depression starting in 1930.  It's little wonder the Nazis and their partners obtained power or blamed the Jews so easily.

Many groups falsely claim that the Nazis took everyone's guns. No so! Gun control was implemented by the Democratic Socialist in the 1920's as a way to reduce the likelihood of an armed revolt against the government  just as the Providential Government in Russia had done in 1917 following the February Revolution. The Nazis actually restored private ownership of guns to most ordinary Germans (except to those who opposed the government, habitual criminals, and, naturally, to Jews and Gypsies).

They also didn't burn the Bible as many of these same groups also claim. They burnt books written by Jewish authors, pacifists, Communists, Socialists, Marxists, liberals, the Talmud, democracy, and even the works of exiled German authors or those who promoted homosexuality...but, alas, no Bibles.

In fact, they didn't oppose the Catholic church or most Protestant denominations. Some practiced a distorted form of Christianity called "Positive Christianity" which deleted any Jewish references and denied Jesus' Jewishness. Even the belt buckles their soldiers wore read "Gott mit Uns"---God is with us.

Today, the media seeks to confuse and divide us. Why? Because 96%+ of total media is controlled by just six mega corporations. They are part of the ruling Oligarchy behind the Corporatocracy which has replaced our Republic. They have an agenda. To make that agenda work, we have to be divided and at each other's throats. United, we're powerful because we can't be controlled, and we're looking at them.

An Oligarchy is, by definition, a interlocking partnership between government and big business. It's not "socialist", "Marxist", or "Communist", which seeks to destroy corporate power by increasing government control over them. Do you see that happening? Do you think Wall Street will throw in the towel and hand the keys over to Congress? No stocks? No bonds? No lobbyists?  What about the government ending private ownership of property or everyone working for the government? Hardly.

However, they will do their best to scare you with the word "socialism".  They will condition you to equate "socialism" with the horrors of Nazism on the Right or Stalinism on the Left. They want us to see only a divided America, be it Democrat vs. Republican, Liberal vs. Conservative, or black vs. white, vs. brown and whatever else you've got. They don't want us to see that we have more in common than not. They don't want us to see how communities are organizing and working together, or how badly both parties are hemorrhaging voters and becoming Independent or joining third parties.

There will always be "useful idiots" , be it the Klan, Antifa, or BLM, that unwittingly follow hate filled agendas, just like there will always be those who try to suppress "think for yourself"  blogs like this one. That's the last thing they want. America isn't going down a socialist path, and even if it were, history has shown that not all socialist policies are bad just as not all conservative ideologies are good.

Our Republic is gone. In its place stands a Corporatocracy. The government is an Oligarchy. Oligarchies are, by their very nature, fascist or neo-fascist since they are about acquiring power and consolidating control, be it of assets, resources, or people. Our job is to restore our Republic.

 

Insights into the Tax Systems of Scandinavian Countries

 

National Fascist Party


55 Corporations Paid $0 in Federal Taxes in 2020 Profits


FairVote: Voter Turnout