September 14, 2020
The vilification of socialism is being taken advantage of by the Republicans once again
On August 27th, the virtual 2020 Republican National Convention wrapped up, and what was probably the most prevalent theme of the whole event was the condemnation of the Democrats’ ‘socialist’ agenda.
This was honestly the most striking part of the RNC, not because red-baiting is anything new for Republicans, but because Republicans have been doing this to most Democratic campaigns and programs for the past century and it remains effective. The Democratic party has never once been socialist, and none of their proposals have ever represented socialism either. Even the most progressive members of the Democratic party still advocate for maintaining a capitalist economy, and at most, propose a more regulated vision for capitalism.
The concept of falsely branding different parties and policies as socialist has been around for even longer than the original establishment of the Democratic and Republican parties. In Karl Marx’s ‘The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte’ he states that “Every demand for the most simple bourgeois financial reform, for the most ordinary liberalism, for the most commonplace republicanism, for the flattest democracy, is forthwith punished as an ‘assault upon society,’ and is branded as ‘socialism’.”
This was written in 1852, as part of an analysis of French revolutions in the 1840s. It specifically critiqued Napoleon III and the failure of the revolutions that he called “a farce”, which only worked to establish another bourgeois state. This sums up exactly what is occurring in the U.S. today. The word ‘socialism’ carries such a harshly negative connotation. The term has become such a taboo due to decades of propaganda which is what makes the red scare tactic so effective.
By simply labeling any remotely progressive reform as “socialism”, it completely derails the entire narrative of the policy. Not only does the heavy-handed use of the word socialism hurt the narrative of simple bourgeois reform by the Democrats, but it actively damages actual socialist movements as well, by undermining the advocacy for a real alternative to capitalism.
The bourgeoisie, the social class which includes and upholds the economic and political interests of the capitalist ruling class (including both parties), has a great deal of power in creating dominant worldviews through their control over the state, police, media, corporations, etc. . This allows them to completely disregard any and all calls for reform or revolution, and effectively alienate these movements. In doing so, they also work to maintain the status quo by keeping the masses in ignorance and in hatred of alternative viewpoints that may challenge the established dominating views.
For both the Republicans and the Democrats, the term socialism has been used to fit distinct narratives, and this has obviously damaged the movement immensely. It is important that we work to subvert the dominant worldviews that are prevalent through all aspects of daily life. We must be sure to prevent ourselves from recreating this “farce” that Marx had warned us of, and we must continue our progression towards a new epoch.