A few years ago, maybe less, the big insult from the right was to call Obama, or anyone they did not like, a socialist. It drove anyone who was literate nuts, simply because the Obama administration was nearly as far from socialist as you could imagine, at least in the traditional sense. Arguably, something had to be done less capitalism implode, but would a socialist spend all or most of his time saving the banks?
That doesn’t even take into account the endless wars and illegal assassinations and the cowardly abandonment of single payer health care and the endless compromises. Obama has certainly accomplished some amazing things but he’s not used the crisis to move the country in a decisively new direction. Clinton was Reagan with a (slight) difference and Obama is Clinton’s Reaganomics with a (slight) difference.
The socialist charge hasn’t disappeared but it’s been overshadowed by the latest charge: class warfare. This too ought to drive anyone in education and anyone who’s educated nuts. It’s not simply that there’s no war, or implied violence. It’s that this idea serves is, in effect, a denial of the reality of capitalism as an ongoing class struggle over resources and power, not necessarily in that order. It’s not war but it is a struggle.
The last thirty years or so have shown that if ordinary people don’t respond to the struggle with their own struggle, resources and wealth tend to concentrate at the top. It’s incorrect to think of this in terms of individuals, aka the millionaire’s tax. Instead this has to be thought of in terms of how resources and power are distributed and as a result what sort of society you want to create. That’s the real question.
That’s what the Occupy Wall Street reaction– it’s not yet a movement–is about. Do we want a morally sound society in which everyone has access to food, health care, and education as a human right? If we do, we have to accept limits on the ability to accumulate resources and power. That’s the discussion the Occupation has begun. I think the proposed limits in Obama’s Jobs Bill is a good start, but only a start.