I knew this was going to happen. It crossed my mind twenty years ago, on that glorious day when the wall came down and communism collapsed.
I cheered along with the world, as the iron curtain burst from within and a million voices celebrated a new era of freedom, but one voice in the back of my head struck a sour note.
"Uh oh," it said. "The bastards have absolutely nothing to fear now! What will keep their greed in check, now that communism is gone?"
Twenty years later I can give the answer. Nothing. Capitalist greed and market fundamentalism went on a two-decade bender, the rich got filthy rich and the poor got dirt poor and the marginalized of the world came up with even worse ideas than communism to deal with the pain. Like Jihadism, narco-states, and anarchy.
For all its sins, and they are legion, communism and its kid brother, socialism played a vital role in keeping capitalist societies healthy.
Communism and socialism are very potent medicines. A little bit will cure what ails you, too much will kill you.
Take a few drams of communism and you get Social Security, Medicare, the FDIC, antitrust laws and even civil rights. The far left in America was ridden with Soviet operatives in the thirties, but they were also the vanguard of the drive for racial equality.
Don't take enough and you get the kind of coal-smoke choked, child labor-abusing, Dickensian industrial nightmare that brought forth Marx and Engels in the first place.
Overdose and you die by the hand of Stalin in the Gulag or starve by the polluted banks of the Yangtze, so brainwashed you expire with the words of Chairman Mao's Little Red Book on your shriveled lips. You don't want to take too much communism, ever. At best you wind up like Cuba under Castro, at worst, Cambodia under Pol Pot.
We could use a few vials of communism in our political medicine chest today. If only to remind the establishment what real trouble looks like. They've gotten so complacent a moderately liberal president, pushing a mildly reformist agenda, is enough to trigger their fight-or-flight reflex. And the conservatives grab their Winchesters and head straight for the barricades.
It's an astonishing spectacle of delusion. Right now, the hysterical right wingers are scared shitless of absolutely nothing. You've got wackos from Texas threatening to secede (if only) and bulging-eyed, bulging waistline, dimwits who make you wonder how the White race ever supremacized anyone, baying at the moon, screaming for our president's scalp. A president who is so moderate he's driving the left almost as buggy as the right.
Almost nothing of substance has changed in American governance in the past seven months; the economy's still in the shitter but no deeper than last November and Goldman is posting record profits again. The gun freaks still have their guns, abortionists still live in fear for their lives, we've got enough wars to keep the Pentagon and the prosthetic limb industry happy, the homosexual agenda still hasn't seized control of America's preschools and Aetna's execs can still send out their "sorry, it was a pre-existing condition, you're not covered" letters without worrying about getting two in the chest and one in the head.
There is literally nothing happening, but the lunatic right is screaming "apocalypse!" and middle America is starting to believe them.
I say let's give them something to be scared about. It's time, comrades.
Let's all get together and sing the Internationale and wave the red banner of revolution. Get enough people to do that and believe me, we'll get universal health care in a Stalingrad minute. Who knows, we might get lucky and the minimum wage will go up a few cents. If you want the power elite to throw you a bone you've got to show 'em some canines.
We need to put the fear of godless communism in the capitalist class--and I don't mean the guy who owns the local Kinkos franchise who thinks he's a red hot entrepreneur so he votes Republican--I mean the nine corporations left standing after we bailed them out of their latest collapse who now have all the money. Scare them straight, make them pretend to play fair, lighten their purses enough to fund some humane social programs, health care for everyone for starters, and then go home.