Do You Have to Be a Socialist to Disagree With Corporatism?
Compassion is not weakness, and concern about the unfortunate is not socialism."
-- Hubert H. Humphrey
Nothing in Extremes Looks Acceptable
I am not an expert in matters of economy, and even less a politically minded dude—so following are just some superficial observations of someone who has lived in both arrangements, socialist and corporate.
What first hits the eye is this peculiar tendency of folks to exaggerate with extremes, prompted by strong propaganda from both sides of the political scale—which prevents them from trying to pursue a golden middle which might be so much more fair to the majority. Indeed, it's like an obese person defending their condition by saying that they "don't want to starve themselves to death"—and a bulimic one using the excuse of "not wanting to look like a blimp".
Likewise, corporatists are talking about the boogieman of socialism where a mass of social parasites are abusing the system, living off social services, lazy to work, and not contributing to the national welfare in any way. Socialists, on the other hand, curse the rich elite that's exploiting the masses and tailoring all policies, domestic and foreign, with government being just their puppets.
And guess what—both symptoms of a dysfunctional arrangement could be seen around, but they get so exaggerated by both sides' propaganda that no one is in the mood to seek something in the middle.
Namely, what we certainly see a lot is clear signs of a corporate America, as well as a mass of unproductive folks—both coexisting in an unhappy marriage. It's for the corporatism that the middle class is dying out, with small businesses hardly surviving, basically having turned into a society of those rich and those struggling.
And it's obvious that corporatism is spreading its ambitions globally, with tendencies of neo-imperialism, as the super-rich are insisting on a political and economic hegemony. Means of achieving that never excluded a war, and just about everybody knows these days that wars are not started because of "ideological differences", or because of "concerns over an inhuman regime of a country"—but because of the big buck as a motivation.
With two countries of equally inhuman regimes, one will be our good friend, and another we'll treat as a foe. Also, it's O.K. for our friends to occupy others' territory, but it's something sharply condemned when our political foes do it.
Well, ask me, an overcooked political cynic, if I give a rat's ass about who is doing what in this global political circus. If I was commenting about a TV episode of a sitcom, I just might be more emotionally engaged than I am now, but I simply love giving a satirical treatment to matters which others are taking too seriously.
Like, for example, those who die in such wars of highly questionable motives, are proclaimed as "heroes who gave their life for their country", whereas in reality, they died defending the interests of the ruling class. Indeed, "patriotism" has reached a strange meaning.
Really, folks, imagine a "national tragedy" of a regime which would not condone global military interventions—with that big military industry suffering huge losses. One that would suddenly dare to give some meaning to the words "we, the people". A regime that would go crazy focusing on spending every taxpayer's dollar for the well being of the people.
What wrath of gods would befall us, if we just left the world alone and minded our own, much neglected business?
You can't have "equal opportunity" if you put thumb on the scales in an effort to force equal results.
-- A.E. Samaan
Life Turning a Routine—Politics Follows It
Well, who am I to argue? People must like it this way if they keep having it. They must love their rich folks, seeing in them something like a symbol of national prosperity. No one can impress them with a fact that American standard of living is far from the global top, and a great majority of Americans don't really enjoy the status quo.
But they will maintain their loyalty to the economic tradition of cherishing those icons among themselves as a symbol of "how far up one can go in this country". It somewhat reminds me of sports fans who can't play the game, but go nuts about their favorite teams.
Maybe it's the right time for me to identify myself, not only as a hardcore political cynic, but also as an individualist, immune to the propaganda of this or that political stream. So, according to my simple individualism, one can be either a rich dude or a homeless one in any system—corporate or socialist.
For my first 23 years I lived in Croatia, then part of socialist Yugoslavia, a federation that eventually fell apart, with its 6 republics turning capitalist. I left as a legal immigrant to Canada, never in agreement with the socialistic extreme.
But not entirely against a healthy mix of capitalism and socialism, which would allow private enterprise, even the rich class, but also allow middle and small business to thrive, and the middle class to prosper. Even taking a humane care of those unfortunate ones. For Pete's sake, what's a regime where even house pets live better than some folks?
Again, no system is there to guarantee anyone to either end up rich, nor to exclude a possibility of their going homeless. It's all up to our individual efforts which we invest in life, but the system has to be fair for both—those with exceptional talents and abilities, and those who were "not born to get rich", not born smart enough to attend schools or to develop skills. Not all of those are abusers of the system.
So I see the claim of corporatists as full of crap when they say that "equal opportunities are given to everyone". No, they are not. It would be like saying that a basketball club is an "equal opportunity" picker for their players—meaning those over 6 feet tall, and those 5 feet tall.
Fascism is when corporations become the government.
-- Bill Maher
Having a Superior Military -- or a Mass Prosperity
At the other extreme, there is no question about a sizable mass of folks abusing the system, which includes some of those illegal immigrants and those who simply want others to work for them, while they enjoy all the same rights. Trust me, I had a chance to see many of those in the socialist regime, hearing a lot of complaints by those who had to work for such lazy asses.
I always saw something of a criminal mind in that attitude, although with something of a crude realism in their excuse that "if the bureaucratic parasitism is allowed with them not contributing to anything -- why a little guy wouldn't do the same". A lame excuse of a lazy ass, because "two wrongs don't make a right".
Indeed, it's for such abusers of the system that socialism got its bad name -- not that all of its tenets were unacceptable. For example, when the government of America prefers spending trillions on military advancement and bribes to the countries where they keep their military bases, rather than on something as basic as full medical coverage for people, then it doesn't sound alright.
Just think about how much it costs to maintain those over 70 bases around the world. Not to mention NATO, which is totally a stupidity, since no one in these times of horrible nukes as ultimate defense will attack one America. It's all about the "image of a bully" useful in the ambition of the global supremacy.
My point being that money does exist for that aspect of "socialism", while we could keep our capitalism intact. And money for free education exists, and for many of those social services which we see in some Scandinavian countries with a standard of living way above the American. By the way, according to statistics, they are named the happiest people on earth, with strong family values, and knowing what they really want as a society.
The question from the title of this post might as well be repeated—do we have to be extreme "socialists" by making our system fair to the majority? And, is the nation defined by that majority, or by only a few? If those patriots who ever died for their country came from that majority, not from sons and daughters of the rich, why keep those few so privileged, with tax cuts and their ridiculous influence in legislation, while they can afford any medical expenses, get any education?
In one interview, a billionaire was asked: "When is enough?".
"It's NEVER enough" -- he answered seriously, meaning it.
The trick is to make sure you don't die waiting for prosperity.
-- Lee Iacocca
Is a Golden Middle Possible?
I am so perfectly aware, while writing all this, how many of you reading this will ignore each of my claims that "I am not a socialist" simply because that's all they see, a black-and-white option. So, according to them, you are either cheering at this exact status quo in the United States—or you must be a socialist.
I see that kind of stiff close-mindedness in every other aspect of life. For example, how many of you have heard a dude ordering a burger say: "No mayo, please." And how many of you found something idiotic about it, like I did?
For, that burger, plus the white flour bun is enough to give us much more cholesterol than that thin spread of mayonnaise. Moreover, our liver produces about 6 times more cholesterol than the food we eat, and that mayo just might be the most nutritious part of that burger.
In other words, we are so brainwashed by some partial facts which by themselves mean nothing. That includes the word "socialism", which, ever from the times of communist witch hunt in the US, kept its boogieman significance.
It's O.K. not to jump into a system which was defined by Plato as one where "everything belongs to everybody, so nobody treats it with care".
Here in Canada we oftentimes get Liberals in power, which in America gets called "socialism". People just don't like the name "liberals". Let me give you an example. I could bet my monthly pension that the great majority of Catholics can't tell what Protestants are all about—but they will readily criticize them as "not being real Christians". You see what I mean?
But hey, we have our rich, actually very rich folks around here. So, not everything is "socialism" that is not a typical corporatism. And we even have corporations as well, but we can still afford a pretty nice medical coverage for all. I can practically go for a brain surgery without paying for it, and I can see a shrink, without paying, along with so much more. Is our medical system "perfect"? Of course not, but again, you don't junk an idea because it's not perfect, in favor of one that's far from qualifying in that race.
Ironically, I haven't seen a doctor for some 13 years at this age of 75. So, I would be doing just fine in the United States, I guess. Well, back there I tried being sick, and didn't like it, so I chose health, it feels much better.
Back to my main theme, I can't finish this article without mentioning again, how all this is not meant to criticize, but merely to express my thoughts about this obvious and prevalent tendency to view possible political alternatives in their extremes, instead of finding a happy combination somewhere in the middle.
As far as I care, let each nation choose for themselves what they want, who am I to argue? However, from time to time I think about stuff that has nothing to do with my life. I would say, we all do.
Anyhow, it may be due to a stereotype close-mindedness that this world, even as a whole, is not really moving in some fresh directions that would offer new models of living. There is no such thing as a "perfect" system, simply because people are not perfect, but that shouldn't prevent us from trying something new. Don't you agree?
© 2020 Val Karas