A great op-Ed by Nick Kristoff at the NYT explaining how, though lacking in first rate medical technology, the infant mortality rates are actually lower in Cuba. We could take away many good practices from the Socialist, island nation so close to our shores.
Ancient Athens is revered as the birthplace of both democracy and all of Western civilization. During its democratic period of the 5th and 4th century B.C. both its power and cultural achievements were at their height. Even the word “democracy” (demokratia, literally “people power”) is rooted in the Classical Greek language. But in 338, Phillip II of Macedonia (Alexander the Great’s father) conquered Athens and much of the rest of Greek world. It was under Macedonian rule off and on until 228, and democracy was never to take hold again in the Greek classical period.
Also, Ancient Rome was first ruled by a king but then also moved to a democratic, republic-form of government. But in the latter stages, power struggles amongst the elite led to the tyrannical rule of Julius Caesar. And you know what that led to from the pages of The 12 Caesars.
So, what is the point of this shockingly short and incomplete summary of the democratic periods of both ancient Athens and Rome? The reason is that the American Founding Framers took their inspiration from the Classical period in creating and founding the United States of America. They did not say, “Democracy failed in Athens and Rome, therefore we should throw into the dustbin of history.” No, they saw the good and bad parts of each period and drew from the best of their ancient liberal values.
The most often used criticism of radical leftist political philosophies is, “Communism failed in the USSR. It will never work.” But does that mean we should throw way the whole model? I do not believe so. The Founding Framers learned from the failures of the ancient democratic regimes of both Athens and Rome. Therefore, should we never try to install a radical leftist government again if we learn the lessons of the failed Communist experiments of the past?
I hope you answer, “NO!”
The headline reads above an article from the leftist publication “In These Times”, published on February 8th, 2019, by Rebecca Burns, “Tax the Hell Out of the Rich, When They’re Alive and When They’re Dead.” Without saying, I was already on-board.
What the article outlines is a comparison of the three proposed ways that Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Sen. Bernie Sanders want to create a fairer tax system for the 99%. Here’s the rundown:
First Warren’s plan
…(A) 1 percent tax on the wealthiest 0.1 percent, or those with assets of over $20 million. Warren’s proposal would tax fewer people—those with more than $50 million in assets, an estimated 75,000 families—but she would bump up the rate to 2 percent. Households with more than $1 billion in assets would get a 3 percent rate.
Where Warren’s proposal would probably be insufficient on its own is that it wouldn’t offer a particularly aggressive corrective to inequality over time. It would raise trillions for social programs, which is crucially important and would certainly have other beneficial political effects. But, as a result of the tax, the fabulously wealthy would be only slightly less fabulously so.
But right now, correcting the immense rate of economic inequality in American society is not going to fix itself with one tax plan. So, don’t get down, writer Rebecca Burns. That’s going to take something truly radical to happen (hint, hint).
Second, AOC’s plan as outlined in a “60 Minutes” interview,
“You look at our tax rates back in the ’60s and when you have a progressive tax rate system. Your tax rate, you know, let’s say, from zero to $75,000 may be ten percent or 15 percent, et cetera. But once you get to, like, the tippy tops—on your 10 millionth dollar—sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent.”
By even the most optimistic estimates, this would bring in only a quarter of the revenues Warren’s plan would generate.
So, once again, it will not cure the economic inequality in our society as Warren’s will neither. Yet, it is a starting point and one that may be more palatable to everyday-progressives.
And lastly, the Sander’s plan,
Bernie Sanders’ plan involves restoring top marginal tax rates on inheritances to where they were in the 1970s: 77 percent for estates over $1 billion.
The plan would also decrease the threshold for the inheritance tax from $11.18 million to $3.5 million and impose a 45 percent rate on this lower (but still very rich by any normal standard) tier. Even with this new threshold, just 0.2 percent of Americans would ever pay an estate tax. Thus, in the style of Occupy, the plan is called “For the 99.8 Percent Act.”
Again, Sanders’ plan would probably raise less revenue than Warren’s: About $315 billion over a decade.
Then it continues,
But by taking aim at the ultra-rich as a class, it also singles out the kind of dynastic wealth that allows a few families to wreak havoc on our political system. Just three families with multi-generational wealth—the Waltons, the Kochs, and the Mars—have a combined fortune of $343 billion, more than 3.5 million times the median wealth of U.S. families. And they use that wealth to fund all manner of right-wing policies.
The Sanders plan makes the least revenue for the government and will not even come within seeing distance to the eradication of the exspanse of inequality in the United States. But it could be the most acceptable not only to progressives but even centrists if the argument is framed properly by Sanders.
What I am trying to do up above is, first and foremost, to educate everyone on the strides made by modern politicians (two of the three deeming themselves so-called “socialists”) towards income equality which would have been unimaginable 10 years ago. It’s almost amazing, when you really think about it.
Yet my main point comes out of the analysis of the Warren plan, namely, that her plan is the most effective regarding a shrinking of the income gap in this country, but it does not really even make a scratch. As Burns was writing above, “the fabulously wealthy would be only slightly less fabulously so.” That’s all. And this is the reason why we need real change in this nation. We need real radical leftists in power, not just democratic socialists, but real revolutionary thinkers. That is the only way to get any immediate help with the income gap in the U.S. and, later, around the world.
So, I am greatly impressed with the ITT article by Burns in that, first, it has a cool title and, secondly, she respects that even these so-called sweeping tax plans will not truly affect the disparity between the rich and the poor in this nation.
But it’s a start…now let us take advantage of it.
Brand CEO Veronica D’Souza on creating a ‘different ecosystem’ in fashion and the launch of a new Thai silk collection made in a maximum-security prison
— Read on www.forbes.com/sites/maryjanewiltsher/2019/01/28/prison-made-brand-carcel-reimagines-fashion-from-the-inside-out/amp/
What are so-called “fair wages”? Is there any choice not to produce clothing for the rich?
Prison work is slavery. It is not dignifying.
From the AP: https://apnews.com/6c66de0a22944b58b276d43eef91c093
The suffering of the Venezuelan people is heartbreaking. But:
A) This is not a result of a failing socialist system but rather an economic strangling committed by the U.S. and the International community, who are in our pocket, through strong sanctions, and,
B) If Maduro lets in the U.S. aid, it would be seen as a gift from Guaido which would strengthen him immensely. And Guaido would be a U.S. puppet.
The only thing that should solve this is the delivery of aid by Russia or China. Where are they at?
In my previous post, I expressed the opinion that a major mistake made by Communist nations, both past and present, is that they moved too fast to make radical economic changes after their respective revolutions. Stalin’s “Five Year Plans”, Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”, and the very radical economic and societal moves made by Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge left tens of millions dead. What I propose instead is that once a revolution is won here in the U.S., and a vanguard/transition party is established, we then move slowly into a socialist system.
Now, we can make major societal changes regarding human rights issues like LGBTQ issues, women’s equality and abortion rights, and of course, minority rights. And we should also start socializing major industries, like utility companies, the medical system, and other day-to-day human rights issues. But the last thing we want to do is something as radical as eliminating the money-based system or forcing people into collectives.
The reason for this is because the people are not yet informed about the nature of the Socialist/Communist system as of today. We need to create a new hegemonic culture based on equality and the new government-to-citizen relationship first. Italian scholar and Communist Antonio Gramsci iwrote about how capitalism is the hegemonic culture. So everything we know is based on that brutal system and, therefore, it is hard to think outside of it, especially in America where the entire history of our young nation is nothing but capitalism. We don’t have the history of a feudal system. Other nations do. So they have something to fall back on, culturally. So that’s why we need a vanguard/transitional party so immensely.
In conclusion, we must make a gradual change in our economic system. This will help the masses ease into a new leftist system. I arrived at this notion because, according to scholars, it took France’s democratic system to work itself out all the way from the storming of the Bastille in 1789, until 1898. So we must be patient and live with a gradual economic change. Plus, Ionce comfortable with the socialist system, the masses can then move into a Communist system for they will be educated in terms of the next steps towards emancipation.
So we cannot have a radical economic change in the U.S. after a far left revolution. The people need to be eased into a new system. Then we will be ready for a Communist system in the a post-socialist stage… even if it takes 100 years.
In my previous post, I argued that a socialist system is the best form of government we can live under at this stage in history, and that we must smash the current so-called democratic system controlled by the rich.
What should the new revolutionary government look like?
The best strategy available to us at this point is to put into power what Lenin and Trotsky called a vanguard party. They will serve as a sort of transition government moving us from capitalism towards socialism. We must support these responsible leaders to take us through the ideological battle with those who will want to keep the old “democratic” system in place, namely, the rich and powerful.
But during this transition we may sacrifice some of our freedoms for a short period of time during the certain conflict with the powerful. Freedom of the press, freedom to demonstrate, and some other forms of free speech may be suppressed for a time because they are all controlled by the capitalist’s dominant ideology. This is what Trotsky put forth in his famous work Dictatorship vs. Democracy.
Yet, we must watch the vanguard leadership very closely.
The USSR tried this idea out, and it led to Communism’s greatest monster, Josef Stalin, into power. Stalin used the above suppressed rights to become an authoritarian leader who committed so many crimes against humanity they are too many to list here.
Take this warning seriously. The government of and for the people can be hi-jacked if we do not pay enough attention to what our leaders are doing in our name.
In conclusion, what the people need to do is smash the currently corrupt system and replace it with responsible leaders who can lead us through the war of ideas, and probably against a violent suppression by the 1%. And this will mean a crackdown on some of our most cherished freedoms, but they will be returned in time once the rich and powerful have their control over us destroyed. Yet we must keep our eyes on this transition party because a rising leader or group could use the loss of these freedoms to create an authoritarian governmentclaiming to be revolutionary.
This is an outline of what we need to do if we wish to make any successful revolutionary movements at this time.
Over the past few months, I have been publishing a podcast on working class issues. Yet I returned to Sparking The Left because the number of listens were very low. But in some episodes I began with editorials trying to convey the radical-leftist approach. So I’ll be posting a few of the essays here, in easy to understand language, to outline STL’s far-left point of view:
As I have stated above, this blog now comes from a radical leftist point of view. And I know what people think of when hearing of far-left governments:
- Mass starvation
But those are results of authoritarianism rather than a radical-leftist government (another post for another time).
A true form of socialism, much less communism, has yet to be practiced in history. And what a true form of a radical leftist system is about is putting power in the hands of the workers. Workers should own the companies they work for because they are the ones who are engaged in the labor.
Right now major stock holders on Wall Street own and control the factories and corporations. But they do nothing but sit and collect the profits while we get the crumbs. They don’t unload trucks, sort freight, work a cash register, fill orders, or what-have-you, for often more tha
n 40 hours a week. The fruits of our labor have been usurped from the rightful owners; and that is us, the working class.
Now, I hear you saying, “How can a corrupt system like ours ever turn over all of the power to the workers?”
The answer is we smash the current capitalist oligarchy; or our so-called democratic system.
It must go.
Now which form of a far-left government we construct is up for debate. And in all honesty, I’m not sure which one it should actually be. But what I do believe right now is socialism is the best form of government we have available to us at this time.
So, in general, we must leave behind the Gulags, purges, and mass starvation, and enact a socialist government. Though it sounds extreme to complete this feat, but our current so-called democratic system must be smashed.
Any ideas or thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
Some friends and I will be meeting at Shelby Park in Old Louisville at 1:30pm, Sunday, for a General Assembly of the new Louisville Socialists political group. Come for a great discussion of some new ideas for collective action. You can RSVP at Meetup.com and become a new member. Hope to see you there!
A writing by Mao Tse-Tung, the late Chairman of Chinese Communist Politburo. This piece is an excerpt is from Book V called “Revolt.” This chapter pertains to “The struggle to abolish injustice; the battle cries of the new army which is gathering for the deliverance of humanity.”
The revolt of the peasants in the countryside disturbed the sweet dreams of the gentry. When news about the countryside reached the cities, the gentry there immediately burst into an uproar. When I first arrived in Changsa, I met people from various circles and picked up a good deal of street gossip. From the middle strata upwards to the right-wingers of the Kuomintang, there was not a single person who did not summarize the whole thing in one phrase: “An awful mess!” Even quite revolutionary people, carried away by the opinion of the “awful mess” school which prevailed like a storm over the whole city, became downhearted at the very thought of the conditions in the countryside, and could not deny the word “mess.” Even very progressive people could only remark, “Indeed a mess, but inevitable in the course of the revolution.” In a word, nobody could categorically deny the word “mess.”
But the fact is, as stated above, that the broad peasant masses have risen to fulfill their historic mission, that the democratic forces in the rural areas have risen to overthrow the rural feudal power. The patriarchal-feudal class of local bullies, bad gentry and lawless landlords has formed the basis of autocratic government for thousands of years, the cornerstone of imperialism, warlordism and corrupt officialdom. To overthrow this feudal power is the real objective of the national revolution. What Dr. Sun Yat-Sen wanted to do in the forty years he devoted to the national revolution but failed to accomplish, the peasants have accomplished in a few months. This is a marvelous feat which has never been achieved in the last forty or even thousands of years. It is very good indeed. It is not a “mess” at all. It is anything but an “awful mess.”