Is the U.S. on the Road to Socialism? (Part 2)

Last week, I looked at the first five planks of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and the extent to which they have been integrated into the U.S. government. This week, I’ll examine planks 6-10.

6. Centralization of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State.

Check. We have the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) and government ownership of Amtrak, the U.S. Interstate Highway System and its centralized funding, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate everything from radio and TV to telephones. Even satellite radio is regulated by the state, limiting the band to just two stations (Sirius and XM) who then had to ask the government’s permission to merge.

7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of waste-lands; and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.

President Truman socialized the steel industry in 1952, reasoning that steel was vital to America’s defensive interests. With a military-industrial complex so vast, what isn’t “vital” these days? Regardless, the Supreme Court rejected this Marx-like expropriation after the fact. Would today’s SCOTUS remain as true to the Constitution? The EPA and various environmental regulations do much of what’s included in the second half of the plank above. Overall, we’re not quite there on #7 — a half-hearted cheer (perhaps more of a whimper) for capitalism.

8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.

Both John McCain and Barack Obama favor some type of mandatory “national service.” The Army Corps of Engineers is a psuedo-industrial army. FDR’s WPA projects would certainly fit the bill, and as the current recession turns into a depression, don’t be surprised to see the next president reinstitute public works projects.

9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equable distribution of the population over the country.

Various zoning, anti-”sprawl,” and “smart growth” policies fit the bill here.

10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.

Just as with plank #5 (”Centralization of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly”), the U.S. passes this test with flying colors. Not only is education in America “free and cumpulsory,” it is also federally controlled, now more than ever thanks to the disastrous No Child Left Behind. Anti-child workplace discrimination was codified by various “progressive” reforms in the early 20th century — long after most child labor had stopped, voluntarily, as living standards rose thanks to the free market — and today’s schools meet an updated version of combining education with “industrial production” in that they’re designed primarily to train children to be “good” employees.

In Conclusion

Karl Marx was a brilliant man who properly diagnosed the ills of what he called “capitalism” — a system in which the rich and propertied classes were given legal sanction to plunder the poor and working classes. Marx believed that all nations with “capitalism” (as he defined it) would eventually disintegrate into socialism and then the true worker’s paradise of Communism. The five tenets above, along with the previous five, were the preconditions that Marx thought needed to be met before a “capitalist” nation could become socialist (and then Communist). We’re almost there.

But as brilliant as Marx’s analysis of “capitalism” was, his solution — Communism — was utterly off the mark.

What we need in America is true capitalism: a system of peaceful and voluntary exchange, wherein capital is employed in the best interests of its private owners and without government interference. To the extent that capitalism and its Invisible Hand are allowed to operate, living standards of all from the poorest to the richest are improved. To the extent that the government intervenes, we become more like Marx’s version of “capitalism” and take another step on the road to his nightmarish vision of the total state.

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