Mar 30, 2016 2:05 AM GMT
article circa 2013
The election of Kshama Sawant, a socialist, to the city council of Seattle seems like dropping a pebble in the ocean...
But her election does show that not only was she not afraid to be a socialist, people were not afraid of electing one. It's not just that socialism is coming into fashion; people are finding out that maybe they've been socialists this whole time and didn't know it. ...
...the liberal achievements of the New Deal, such as Social Security, were the result of pressure from the growing popularity of the Socialist...The achievements of the labor movement, such as the eight-hour work day, are the result of the agitation of radical unionists....
Senator Joe McCarthy and FBI Director J Edgar Hoover were successful in undoing a lot of that progress with their witch hunts. And it was easier during the most tense moments in the Cold War for the right to malign socialists, even if they were opposed to Soviet-style authoritarianism. The mere word brought to mind images of bread lines and secret police. American capitalism always looked good by comparison. Besides, no one likes a traitor.
But not only has the quality of American economic life vastly declined since the fall of the Berlin Wall, that horrific image doesn't exist anymore. Further, millennials, a demographic acutely and adversely affected by the economic downturn, have little to no memory of the hammer and sickle, and when one thinks where socialism exists in the world, they don't think of Russia, they think of social democracies like Denmark. Even Switzerland, a country most closely associated with the banking industry, is considering a universal basic income.
It isn't just the Fox News anchors of the world who try to denounce any progressive economic policy as dreaded socialism. The American left has also had aversion to go all-in with the term. The 1999 protests against the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle were called "anti-corporate", rather than "anti-capitalist"
...being labeled a socialist these days should be taken as a compliment.