Check out the new socialism

Greg Schwartz's view

A powerful myth threatens mankind’s future — the myth that capitalism equals democracy. This institutionalized propaganda sounds good on the surface — free markets encourage competition and innovation, and this drives the evolution of civilization. It’s true to a degree, but it also stifles creativity because most workers have little time to do anything besides slave away to make ends meet.

The result is a ruthless paradigm that values profits of a global elite over the welfare of the masses. This irrational and unsustainable system increases global poverty and is leading toward an imminent planetary crisis that endangers us all.

Organizations like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund basically act as legalized global racketeers. These undemocratic institutions control economic aid to poor countries and use their loan shark type power to demand government policies to their liking.

This generally involves “structural adjustment programs” that force countries to privatize state-run companies and services. Corporate CEOs make out like bandits as poor nations sell out future interests in their own resources to obtain desperately needed immediate aid. (See for more.)

There is an alternative based on the simple notion that the vast resources of society should be used to help meet people’s needs — socialism. Socialism gets a bad rap because previous attempts have been commandeered into communist dictatorships. But that’s not real socialism.

Enter Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. A leading proponent of the truth that capitalism will not solve the problems of hunger and poverty in the world, Chavez came to power in 1998 via a platform to use profits from his country’s oil reserves — fifth largest in the world — to help his people. Rather than capitulate to Big Oil, Chavez channels more money toward social programs such as free health care, education, land reform and small business loans.

Receiving a hero’s welcome at the recent 2005 World Social Forum, Chavez said, “We need to reinvent socialism. It won’t be the socialism that we saw in the Soviet Union, but it will emerge as we develop systems that are built on cooperation, not competition … Capitalism can only be transformed via genuine socialism — a just and equal society. But this can only be achieved through democracy. But we have to clarify what we mean by democracy, and it is not the type of democracy practiced by Bush.”

Chavez’s views have led the Bush regime’s Condeleeza Rice to declare him a “destabilizing influence” in Latin America. Chavez boldly countered that Bush “is the big destabilizer in the world, he’s the threat.” Chavez now understandably fears the Bushies will try to assassinate him, as Uncle Sam’s CIA has often covertly done to leftist leaders that don’t play ball with corporate profiteering (see for more).

The Democratic Party has sold almost as much of its soul to the corporate robber-barons as the Republicans have, and the duopoly is too invested in the current system to change anything. Those who are concerned about the corrupt state of the capitalist paradigm should investigate socialism.

The Kent State chapter of the International Socialists Organization meets at 8 p.m. every Thursday night in the Student Center. Tonight’s meeting features visiting ISO Midwest coordinator Sherry Wolf, speaking about abortion rights. If you feel disillusioned by the direction of American politics, come check it out.

Greg Schwartz is a graduate student in journalism and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].