January 20, 2014
'Imagine: Living in a Socialist America'
That's the title of a new book by Fred Jerome, a compilation of essays from these and other noteworthies:
This anthology features essays by revolutionary thinkers, activists, and artists-including Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore, civil rights activist Angela Davis, incarcerated journalist Mumia Abu Jamal, and economist Rick Wolff- addressing various aspects of a new society and, crucially, how to get from where we are now to where we want to be, living in a society that is truly fair and just.
I suppose that's one way to describe their vision. I might ask the question, "fair and just for whom"? But that would make me a party pooper.
An excerpt of the book appears in Salon. It's long, but well worth the read. Sometimes, it's hysterically funny, sometimes just hysterical, and sometimes it makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Jerome paints a picture of America that is so pathetically naive, so childishly simple minded, that you finally begin to understand the sheer power that this vision holds for the masses. You don't have to think critically to become entranced with the notion of "workers" running everything.
In fact - you don't have to think at all:
But what will the media be like in a socialist USA? There is no blueprint, but in a society that has erased corporate control, the articles in newspapers and magazines and online will not be filler between ads for teeth whiteners and weight-loss pills. There won't be TV commercials for Coke, cars, or million-dollar condos. There will be no private corporations to create and sponsor the news.
Most of us could probably manage to struggle through life without Coca-Cola and Colgate, but who, then, will pay for the news? Who will pay the salaries of reporters, camera people, technicians, announcers, maintenance staff, online journalists, professional bloggers, and videographers?
In a socialist society a portion of the media would be reserved for news disseminated by the democratically elected governing bodies, that is, working people elected by and for working people.
Throughout this nightmare fantasy, Jerome uses the terms "worker" and "working people" as if they really exist. Presumably, that would mean using draconian measures to prevent "non-workers and non-working people" from running for office.
Yeah - real democratic, huh?
So news (and views) in a socialist society will be brought to you by a plethora of noncommercial sponsors. The government media will report on and discuss, for example, the major government plans for production, how to improve education, and more. But other media-newspapers, TV and radio stations, and Web sites sponsored by workers' organizations, cultural organizations, youth groups, sports teams, and neighborhood groups will report on issues specific to their interests.
Socialist media will be multisponsored and multifaceted and reflect a range of opinions even when there are disagreements and arguments.
But what about the cost? Can workers' organizations such as labor unions, tenants' organizations, or citywide parent-teacher associations really afford to pay for daily and weekly newspapers, magazines, TV and radio newscasts, blogs, and online audio-and video-streaming techniques?
In most cases, workers could meet the cost of media-making with add-ons to union dues, but that may not always be needed. New technology has drastically cut the costs of producing media. Smaller, easier-to-use cameras, recorders, and other airwave technology, as well as the electronic publication of books, newsletters, and blogs, have brought media production within the reach of almost everyone.
Note that it is still going to be about who has the money to get their message out. Just because you create these fictitious "worker" publications, doesn't mean that opposing viewpoints will be heard. Thinking otherwise is stupid and naive - like this:
But what about bias? Can a newspaper or TV news program run by the autoworkers' union, for example, provide critical reports about that union's problems and weaknesses? When workers on one section of an auto assembly line feel that the line is moving too fast for safety-perhaps it has already caused some minor injuries, and they believe a major accident is inevitable-while union officials are publicly boasting about their plant's speed and "socialist efficiency," will the union's TV program invite the complaining workers on the air to discuss their issues? Indeed, will "Autoworkers News and Views" on TV have a regular segment devoted to union members' criticisms?
Why not? Who better to discuss and debate problems inside a union than the members who live with and often suffer from those problems? If unions or neighborhood councils are truly trying to make things better for their members, what more effective tools than media outlets to spur such improvements?
See what I mean about hysterically funny? In Jerome's America,the UAW has their own TV and radio networks, newspapers, blogs - and they're going to allow potential safety hazards to be discussed and criticize the union openly for all to hear?
Has Jerome taken a hard look at the UAW lately? I thought so.
Read the whole thing because this is what real socialism looks like - not the redistributive, class warfare nonsense being spouted by Obama and the Democrats. Words have meanings and calling Obama a "socialist" is meaningless in the context of the real socialism as imagined by Jerome.
There is a superficial logic to Jerome's vision, which is another reason it's so powerful. But digging deeper, beyond the thrilling notion that "workers" would actually run things in a socialist "democracy," you find the inexorable logic of revolution and the elimination of those who disagree, the marginalization if not elimination of "counter revolutionaries," and the frightening prospect of really using "racism" and sexism" as political weapons:
And there will be stories of continuing struggles to make sure that the revolution represents the entire working class-especially struggles against the old but adhesive attitudes of racism and sexism. In a society where racism and sexism are as widespread as they are in the United States, they will not evaporate simply because revolutionaries nail a "closed" sign to the door of the New York Stock Exchange.
Discussions, debates, even battles will continue, and social justice committees will be elected by the union membership to look into complaints and to dig up and root out capitalist, racist, and sexist weeds that continue to grow.
Get that? You are probably a "weed" that needs to be "rooted out." Your neighbors will be encouraged to report your anti-revolutionary behavior - or report you for that because you kicked their dog.
On such trivialities and metaphors are people lined up against the wall and shot.
America has a lot of problems. But thinking they can be solved by putting mythical creatures like "workers" in charge - when what Jerome really means is that the workers' overseers will be calling the shots - won't help matters a bit.
But, as in all socialist experiements that have been tried the last 100 years, hope springs eternal. This time, we'll get it right! This time, we'll put good people in charge - not the corrupt oligarchs who came to power in Russia and eastern europe. This time, it will be different!
Will they eventually convince enough people in America to try it? I wouldn't bet against it.