Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why Republicans Would Fail Any Test on the Basics of Marxism

by Norman Markowitz

I saw something yesterday that even brought a chuckle to the CNN news team. A newswomen in Atlanta,who reminded me a bit of a minor league Sarah Palin, read these words to Joe Biden "From each according to his ability to each according to his need" and then asked Biden if Senator Obama's tax program wasn't Marxism. Biden asked her if she were seriously asking him that and then laughed and she looked angry and disgruntled.

Actually, given the way the media has dealt with communism, socialism, Marxism, it wasn't so funny. What the McCain campaign, and Palin especially, is trying to do as their position grows more desperate, is to convince voters that Republican tax cuts for the rich and the corporations have really been for them, to help them keep their "hard earned money," and that Senator Obama's moderate and modest call for a return to progressive taxation (he and we have a long way to go to undo the damage of the Reagan Bush tax policies which fostered lower incomes and higher regressive taxes for the majority) as "socialism" which will take money away from them.

First, as any Soviet school child in the past, or Chinese (I hope) or Cuban school child today could tell the Republicans, the principle of socialism is "from each according to his ability to each according to his work" in a planned publicly owned economy. Under capitalism, those who work "hard," work for others who profit from their work by keeping their labor costs as low as possible. Those capitalists who work work at managing their money, their investments, which is the wealth that the working class produces. Furthermore a whole industry of "financial planners" exists for them and the upper management of the corporations function as "organization men" (what capitalist journalists still call "apparatchiks" when the are dealing with functionaries under socialism) whose personal wealth derives from their service to their CE0 and CF0s, not from "hard work."

From each according to his ability to each according to his need, again as any school child who grew up in a socialist country could tell the Republicans, is the ideal of Communism, of a future society that can come into existence after a long period of socialist development, meaning a long period in which the productive forces have developed on the principle of each according to his ability to each according to his work, a period which has seen people with special skills and abilities rewarded differentially on how much their labor has benefited the society as a whole, the common good or as the constitution of the U.S. says, the general welfare, not what their stock portfolio is, or what they can sell in a marketplace.

David Gergen, a man I usually don't listen too much since he reminds of a political bookie (someone who worked for Nixon, Reagan, and Clinton as a political consultant) looked pained on CNN as he listened to this nonsense and said that said that the Democrats hadn't answered the "charges" too well, mentioning Theodore Roosevelt's support for progressive taxation (unfortunately, outside of his foreign policy positions, the present day leaders of the Republican party would call Theodore Roosevelt a socialist, which, by the way, some old guard rightwing Republicans did when he was President).

But Gergen did have a point which showed that he had retained his faculties after working for Nixon and Reagan, itself something that is pretty impressive.

Socialism as a system, and there are many varieties, has at its center public ownership and public planning for production and distribution of goods and service. Regulation and taxation come into play where there is a private sector, but there is no need to tax productive public property under socialism and no real need to tax personal property (automobiles, homes, anything else) owned for personal use. Wealth is in effect reorganized under socialism, not redistributed, returned to the producers of wealth, labor.

But I don't expect the McCain campaign to understand any of that, although they view private property the way socialists view public property, and have not only preached, but much more importantly have practiced enormous redistribution of wealth from the general population of wage and salaries earners to the corporations and the rich, which is why some critics(not me, since I think it sullies the word) call their policies "socialism for the rich."

P.S. As I finish this article I have just heard that McCain has called upon Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska, convicted yesterday on seven counts of lying about "gifts" he received amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, to resign from the Senate. From my readings, Stevens was Sarah Palin's most important political ally in the Republican establishment in Alaska. Perhaps he should talk to his running-mate before he makes such statements (but, has he ever talked to her about much of anything).