By Caleb T. Maupin
To more and more people in the world, it is abundantly clear that the capitalist system doesn’t work. At least not for the majority. The system that generates war after war, that allows millions in the U.S. to be unemployed, millions more to go without health care, while fomenting racism, sexism, and anti-lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer bigotry, and offering no future to the next generation is a disaster for the workers and oppressed people inside the U.S. and worse yet for the rest of the world.
In this time of crisis, as capitalism shows its true face, many are thinking and talking about the alternative system — socialism.
It is important to point out that there are many political parties around the world, especially outside the United States, whose name is “Socialist Party,” although they may have no relationship at all to socialism as defined by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels or as developed in the Soviet Union starting in 1917 or in the People’s Republic of China or in Cuba.
The rightist sections of the media have made a big deal out of the fact that Dominque Strauss-Kahn is part of the political party in France called the “Socialist Party” (PS) since its founding in 1969. DSK, as he is known, is facing charges in New York that he raped a housekeeper in a luxury hotel where he was staying. He was, until his recent resignation, the head of the capitalist International Monetary Fund — which brutalizes the working class, indeed entire countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America and now even those in Europe.
DSK is not a socialist, but a quintessential capitalist, who possessed personal wealth, the power that comes from being the director of a major imperialist financial institution, and the possibility of being elected president of France on the PS ticket. The PS’s only connection to real socialism is historical, as it stemmed from parties that were members of the part of the socialist movement known as social democracy.
These social democratic parties — the PS in France, the Social Democratic Party in the Federal Republic of Germany, the Labor Party in Britain, for example — sometimes ran administrations governing these countries after 1945. Sometimes they even delivered social benefits to the European workers. But they ran these administrations on behalf of the capitalist system and the capitalist rulers, never challenging their source of power.
Today these parties don’t even pretend to advocate socialism. They are little more than an alternative to center-right governments, much as the Democratic Party in the U.S. is an alternative to the Republican Party. Thus the governments of Portugal, Spain and Greece, although socialist in name, are all imposing austerity programs on the workers of their respective countries.
Example of social democracy Labor government
There are historical examples of social democratic parties in office offering concessions to the working class, but these too are not real socialism. For example, in 1945 after World War II, much of Britain had been destroyed by Nazi bombs. In order to rebuild the economy, the Labor Party government took control of important sections of the economy. ….
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