Friday, 11 December 2015

Is This Memes yet?

I realise the USA hasn't had to come to grips with a large Socialist movement since the time of Eugene Debs and the first generation of Wobblies, but still this is really embarrassing. Below is a political "meme" that's neither politically informative or funny. So just like 90% of them. An American friend shared the below image, and, well the phrase give them enough rope and they'll hang themselves comes to mind.

The entire image and every word on it stems from the -rather common in America-
 socialism=government/state fallacy.  If you're curious the definition of socialism is the control of the means of production by the workers themselves. If Socialism meant the state/government, then this would make every world leader a Socialist, because they all used government institutions. Thatcher's Poll tax was still a tax and the money was being spent on things like the police and military, so I guess she counts as a Socialist.

Emperor Hirohito must of been a Socialist too, given that his nations brief prosperity was built by that bastion of workers rights the Imperial army, whom bravely brought socialist government control to the fringes of China and Korea. And lets not forget the Mujahedeen coalition whom ousted the rival Socialist Peoples Democratic Party of Afghanistan, and then engaged in a four year (1992-96) factional fight over which group was the most Socialistic of the bunch. They were of course out Socialised by the Taliban.

They all used government services and paid for them with taxes and tithes so the group Socialists for Bernie Sanders should be very happy regardless of who becomes the next President since to my knowledge no ones running on an abolition of the state and make America disappear platform.

But to get more specific I'll address a few of the more egregious examples.

  1. Call the Police: This is just bizarre, the modern police force was invented to protect property aka capital, from the majority of the population that had none. To quote that well known Marxist Adam Smith (he might as well be considering what's being listed above)

    “Laws and government may be considered in this and indeed in every case as a combination of the rich to oppress the poor, and preserve to themselves the inequality of the goods which would otherwise be soon destroyed by the attacks of the poor, who if not hindered by the government would soon reduce the others to an equality with themselves by open violence.”

    The famous Cop Riot of Chicago 68
  2. Support the military, CIA or FBI: Okay, when I first saw this meme this was the part that stood out to me. I honestly believed this was a joke, but they seem to be a genuine supporters group. I hope they were joking and I just didn't get it because this is just absurd. You cannot be a Socialist and support a national military (any nation's military) because by supporting an army you are supporting the divisions of the working class, as well as aiding in the misery and destruction of other "foreign" sections of it. And usually they can be deployed against the natives too. To quote Mother Jones

    The above image depicts American troops with bayonets bared at members of the Industrial Workers of the World during the Lawrence textile strike of 1912. Mother Jones herself was no stranger to being menaced by soldiers in her struggles to help the Miners of America (Immigrants and citizens) organise for a better life. Any "Socialist" who supports an army (any army) is a fool whom supports his own executioners.

    Now onto the CIA, if the American military is the club that smashes American workers, the CIA is the blade that terrorises the International working class. To quote former CIA officer John Stockwell

    "It is the function of the CIA to keep the world unstable. And to propagandise and teach the American people to hate. So we will let the establishment spend any amount of money on arms."

    There is no excuse here, the CIA is infamous for its bloody intrigues and campaigns against any an all attempts for working class organisations whether tied to a Communist party or not. I guess Chile's socialists should of rallied round Pinochet and his comrades from the CIA?

    And how can I forget that beacon of Socialism the Shah of Iran? Or the support given to oppressed Nicaraguan socialists during the Sandinista period? I could go on all day, but what's the point?

    Now for the FBI, again, this must be a joke, the FBI and its predecessor the Bureau of Investigation were directly responsible for breaking up and suppressing the original Socialist Party and the early Wobblies. The Federal raids of  October 1917 targeted the headquarters and power bases of both organisations. Eugene Debs was later imprisoned for calling for resistance to the ongoing war and militarisation of American society. Over a 165 key organisers for the IWW were also imprisoned.

    And of course in 1920 there occurred the Palmer Raids, named after the head of the Bureau of Investigation and spearheaded by a young J.Edgar Hoover, whom made membership of the Communist Party or the rival Communist Labor Party grounds for arrest. Over 10,000 activists for various organisations were arrested, and over 500 were deported.
  3. Send your children to public school/ visit a state or city zoo/ visit a museum/ use a public library/ use public beaches: I've lumped these together because they're all the same, access to something. The problem here is it mistakes public use for public ownership. A public park is not owned by the public nor is it run by the public, they're owned by the local government, and it is the local government that determines who can and can't access it.

    For example in racist societies members of the public from minority communities often found there access to public utilities heavily restricted. This was the whole purpose of the Jim Crow legislation, denying sections of the population (the black population) access to state and municipal amenities.

For "public ownership" to really mean publicly owned it's administration has to be accountable to the population as a whole. Palming off responsibility to a lower rung of the governmental apparatus (city and local councils) doesn't count even if they manage to make a few decisions that are genuinely popular.

What about Social security and Medicare then? That's an insurance policy provided by the state instead of a private insurance or medical company. In the UK we the bulk of our welfare provisions are paid for through a system that's called National Insurance, because that's what it is insurance through the government. There's no fundamental difference between the two, its just that the US government has access to more revenue streams then a typical insurance company and so has little or no desire to maximise profitable investment and is better insulated from market fluctuation. A corporate monopoly could afford to operate in much the same way, though it probably wouldn't.

So in conclusion, we have a self described socialist being championed by a group of self described socialists with a meme list about socialism that contains no socialism. Lovely.

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