The Good Fight: The Case for Socialism in the Twenty-First Century

By Tucker, Scott | The Humanist, March-April 1994 | Go to article overview

The Good Fight: The Case for Socialism in the Twenty-First Century


Tucker, Scott, The Humanist


New World Order

Any survey of the bipartisan crusade for a New World Order, and of the prospects for democratic socialism in the twenty-first century, must acknowledge both the clearest and fiercest continuing class struggles, and the most elusive and evolutionary forms of social change. Peter Berger, in his book Pyramids of Sacrifice, wrote: "A humanistic approach to development policy (and just as much to the other areas of politically con, trolled social change) will be based on the insight that no social progress can succeed unless it is illuminated with meaning from within." Within and between persons, taking care to tell our stories as truly as we know how, and to hear each other out.

The surveyor must disavow any claim to Olympian objectivity; even the Greek gods acted with all-too-human motives. Politics is not simply biography writ large, but my own motives for being a democratic socialist have much to do with the working, and middle-class struggles of my own family, with growing up in the Caribbean and South America, with my resistance to the draft during the Vietnam War, with the lives and stories of my friends and comrades, and with my work as a gay health-care activist during the AIDS epidemic. My motives have much to do with experiences such as visiting the Terezin prison camp and crematory with my Jewish lover; climbing a mountain overlooking the Incan city of Machu Picchu with my dad; and keeping vigil beside too many dying friends.

Those are all experiences of human limits and possibilities. I have yet to find a good reason why the particular provincialism of the American ruling class and its technical advisers is essentially more "objective" and "universal" than my own experience --or that of a Philippine sex worker or of a Danish lesbian doctor or of a Guatemalan peasant. I don't claim that God, History, or Science is on the side of democracy and socialism, and I am mightily impressed by the great number of human sacrifices which parties and states have made to those and other bloody idols in this century. Socialism will never provide heaven on earth, but a decent degree of communal care and peace is possible.

The New World Order is a sin against basic human solidarity. That amounts to a confession of faith: I do believe the most persuasive arguments for socialism are fundamentally moral. If anyone should insist on a "scientific" rationale for socialism--an orthodox Marxist, perhaps, or an orthodox monetarist--then the answer must be: no such science exists for human choice and action, especially as human nature is always socially potential and emergent. Does this disclaimer leave socialists all at sea, in dark and fog, and without map or compass? On the contrary. All opinions are not created equal, and distinctions will still be made between truth and falsehood. Loyalty to a cause becomes dangerously sectarian, however, whenever exclusive claims are made to religious or scientific authority. Paul Goodman wrote: "In a culture a superstition may have an overwhelming social consensus and so predetermine all thought and literature, like religion in ages of faith or the present-day belief in the omnicapability of Scientific Method to deliver truth or happiness"

The New World Order is founded upon belief in the Holy Trinity of capitalism, science, and democracy--an occult unity of absolute and equivalent values. Any doubt cast upon one of the three is therefore a failure of faith in the Three-in-One. Though the very words New World Order became part of the Republican rhetorical arsenal as communist regimes began collapsing in 1989 and thereafter, the doctrine itself is still substantially expounded by the current Democratic administration. And the New World Order is not, in fact, all that new. The doctrine was most clearly crystallized during the early Cold War as a deliberate counterresponse to the decolonization of the Third World. Thus George Kennan, in a US. …

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