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Time For Socialist History Month?

We need to take a long, hard look at the ideology that underpins what we call capitalism

 This hasn’t gotten more granular than asking candidates if they call themselves Democratic Socialists. We're going to have to do better than that. (Photo: Molly Adams/Flickr/cc)

This hasn’t gotten more granular than asking candidates if they call themselves Democratic Socialists. We're going to have to do better than that. (Photo: Molly Adams/Flickr/cc)

It’s that time of year again—when we’re encouraged to celebrate Black history, and soon it will be Women’s History Month—the time when people like me ask, “What about the rest of the year?”  

This season, Black History Month coincides with the start of the presidential primary campaigns. On the Democratic side, we’re already seeing journalists stretching for their pencils to divvy the candidates up. So far, the main divides they've identified seem to stem from which of the contenders lead with race and gender justice, and which want to sock it to the corporations.    

This primary campaign is not going to be about where Democrats stand on things like abortion and marriage and voting rights, but rather on where they stand on property rights and public ownership and workplace democracy and taxes.

But those social vs economic distinctions aren’t going to hold up for long when every last Democrat, for all their faults, is a civil rights paragon in contrast to the Klan-endorsed guy in the White House. 

No, this primary campaign is not going to be about where Democrats stand on things like abortion and marriage and voting rights, but rather on where they stand on property rights and public ownership and workplace democracy and taxes. Much as they’re out of practice, journalists are going to have to grapple with economics.

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So far, this hasn’t gotten more granular than asking candidates if they call themselves Democratic Socialists. We're going to have to do better than that.

Just as we need to get beyond the superficial celebration of abolitionist heroes to take a look at the ideas and assumptions that underpin white supremacy, so, too, we need to look at the lens through which we think about wealth.  

Conveniently, the questions aren’t that different. Are our life choices and outcomes determined by ourselves alone in an objective world free of bias? Are our successes affected by our individual character alone or also by social structures—things like systematic privilege? If the former, a few reforms will do; if the latter we need to shake things up.

Donald Trump is already throwing around invective about socialists. At the very least, we need a Socialist History Month to sort things out. May would be fine. Much better than that, we need to take a long, hard look at the ideology that underpins what we call capitalism. On that, like it or not, the clock is quite clearly ticking. If we have to have such a long campaign season, let's make it a season of great debates.

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders is the award-winning host and executive producer of The Laura Flanders Show, a nationally-syndicated TV and radio program that looks at real-life models of shifting power in the arts, economics and politics. Flanders founded the women’s desk at media watch group Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) and produced and hosted the radio program CounterSpin for a decade. She is also the author of six books, including The New York Times best-seller BUSHWOMEN: Tales of a Cynical Species. Flanders was named Most Valuable Multi-Media Maker of 2018 in The Nation’s Progressive Honor Roll, and was awarded the Izzy Award in 2019 for outstanding achievement in independent media.

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