By Zach Carter
The HuffPost (7/29/18)
It’s a shame that Merwin K. Hart’s life has drifted into obscurity, because in his prime he was a real dazzler, one of the brightest stars from the Golden Age of American Paranoia.
In the 1940s and 1950s, Hart ran an organization called The National Economic Council. Neither a government agency nor a laboratory for research, the NEC served as a propaganda funnel for the anxieties of the postwar corporate elite. Men of fortune, like the du Ponts (chemical magnates) and the Pews (of Charitable Trust fanfare) would turn over large sums of money to Hart, who would in turn blast out warnings about the “three million” immigrants who had entered the country “illegally” at the close of World War II, causing a “housing shortage.” Or the “deceit” of international Jewry. Or the hidden subversive content in certain college textbooks.
“In a modern, moral and wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live.Every working-class American in this country should have access to dignified health care, should actually be able to see a doctor without going broke. It means you should be able to send your kids to college and trade school if they so choose, and no person should feel precarious or unstable in their access to housing.” — Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocastio-Cortez
Hart’s favorite freakout was socialism, and how terrifyingly close the United States was to a socialist dystopia. “Our country grew great through freedom,” he warned hundreds of university trustees in 1948. “Do we want the United States to drift into a Socialism like that of Britain, ― which many of us feel is only a transitory stop on the road to State Absolutism such as that of Russia?” Once upon a time, England and the Soviet Union were considered comparable evils on the American right.
The Baby Boomers are the worst American generation since Reconstruction, but they had many reasons to turn out this way. The Boomers were raised in a political culture dominated by madmen, their minds warped at an early age. For decades, Boomers saw the term “socialism” deployed not to denote a set of economic policies, but to conjure a vague, foreign horror. Accustomed to this nomenclature, Boomers have reacted with fright or at least confusion to the terminology of today’s American left, which has embraced the “socialist” label more widely than any domestic political movement in living memory. But the Boomers need to relax. Socialism is good now.
Socialism is not a static, concrete ideology. It is a word whose meaning has long been rendered flexible by decades of political bombardment. It was even hard to pin down Karl Marx on a practical definition. For libertarian economist Milton Friedman, progressive taxation was synonymous with socialism. For Hart, socialism was the British National Health Service. The late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), saw socialism and racial integration as inseparable, and denounced the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as a celebration of “communism, socialism and sex perversion.”
You get the idea: much of what conservatives decried as “socialist” in the 20th century today enjoys broad support among liberals, leftists and even many conservatives.
This is because conservative thinkers of the time chiefly used the word “socialism” not to prosecute the Cold War, but to attack the Democratic Party. Something Democrats said was good was actually very bad, because it was socialist ― and “socialist” was the second “S” in U.S.S.R., after all. This simple rhetorical trick diverted arguments about popular ideas into a referendum on gulags, thought police and nuclear annihilation.
But socialism lost its sting at the end of the Cold War. In 2009, when Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) told a reporter he had a secret list of 17 “socialists” then working in Congress, the Beltway press and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) responded not with McCarthy-era outrage but gentle amusement. …
- ‘Meet the Press’ Interview With Democratic House Nominee Alexandria Ocastio-Cortez — Ocastio-Cortez explains to Chuck Todd how Democratic politics need to be more closely rooted in the communities that elected leaders serve: Link to 7-Minute Video
Looking To Learn About The Historical Roots Of Socialism In The Working Parts Of American Government & Tradition? Check Out John Nichols’ Great Book…
Wall Street Clinton Democrats Look To Sabotage Progressive Reformers
The Democratic Party has floundered throughout Trump’s presidency because it refuses to articulate an alternative vision to Trumpism that addresses the material conditions which many Americans endure.
By Kevin Gosztol
emocratic Party elites are increasingly concerned the midterm elections will be a “base election” and make their centrist politics even more irrelevant, as insurgent candidates like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez garner widespread support.
The think tank, Third Way, recently held a conference in Ohio with Democrats, who primarily adhere to the politics of President Bill Clinton, and new recruits, who they hope will counter “Bernie Sanders-style socialism.” They also intend to defend corporate executives and wealthy people from condemnation for their attacks on poor and working class Americans.
Clinton Democrats cling to the role of sensible steward for corporate elites so tightly that they will not embrace critiques of capitalism and offer policy solutions that address root causes of systemic problems.
“Right now, in the Democratic Party, there is only one option on the table: Sanders-style socialism. That’s the main option on the table. We’re doing this now because the party’s got to have a choice,” Jon Cowan, one of the presidents of Third Way, declared. “It’s going to matter a hell of a lot in 2020, and so while 2020 may feel a ways off, in our mind it isn’t. And the ideas primary starts now.”
“So we’re actually doing this for a very straightforward reason: to stand up and launch a serious, compelling economic alternative to Sanderism,” Cowan added.
Similarly, former Delaware Governor Jack Markell whined, “The only narrative that has been articulated in the Democratic Party over the past two years is the one from the left.”
“I think we need a debate within the party. Frankly, it would have been better to start the conversation earlier,” Markell said.
Democratic Representative Tim Ryan of Ohio earned laughs when he quipped, “You’re not going to make me hate somebody just because they’re rich. I want to be rich!” The line went over well because Third Way and the 250 insiders that attended the conference have deep ties to hedge funds and various financial institutions on Wall Street.
As of 2014, “Two-thirds of its 31 trustees [had] held senior leadership positions in investment funds or big banks or served in some other capacity on Wall Street.” However, corporate Democrats bristle at the notion that their money ethically compromises them. Hillary Clinton even went so far as to defend her speeches to Goldman Sachs by accusing critics of misogyny. …