Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Good That Socialism Wrought

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The Good That Socialism Wrought

Article excerpt

Eight years ago, while everyone was celebrating the fall of the Berlin wall, I had the sneaking suspicion that, beneath the festivity, we ought to be worried. Why? The successful end of the Cold War and fall of communism? The rise of democracy in Russia? The purging of some particularly inhumane dictators, like Romania's Ceaucescu? German reunification? What's not to like?

Yes, but we successful Jeffersonians and capitalists have lost an opponent, and that opponent - while it may have failed in practice - was not without a valid take on the world, on governance and on human nature. Socialism's demise is a real deprivation: the loss of a genuinely credible alternative for organizing a government and an economy. One of its guiding principles - "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" - is a political credo that came as close as any I know to religion in action.

The sad truth is that when a movement fails, especially one that constituted a major rival - and instigator of debate - during a century-long tussle of philosophies, something vital is lost. Not only do its astute insights die, but its defeat makes the winner supremely confident. Confidence inevitably breeds pride, and if the arrogance of Western capitalism wasn't already unattractive enough before its success, imagine its bravado now. We humans are creatures of appetite, too frequently driven by the cravings of hunger, of lust, of greed. We continue to elevate the (legal) Bill Gateses and the (criminal) Michael Milkens to our pantheon of heroes - of men (rarely women) who are the natural products of untrammeled capitalism. With no controls likely to be exercised to keep these financial appetites in check, we are facing Adam Smith's great god: the unrestricted operation of the market place, at full throttle.ujsdmpc These past seven years have been, at least for a dwindling few of us, profoundly distressing, even in the face of the smug pleasure all of us have taken in freedom marches in Tiananmen Square.Mmi( Look at the decline in both the membership and clout of labor unions. Look, too, at the unchallenged sway of corporate managers, their golden parachutes glowing brighter than ever, even before deployment. …

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