Just to get it clear from the beginning, this is not a node about the evils of communism
. Rather, this is a commentary on the culture of the United States
, and why in our great nation, Socialism
has taken such a negative connotation.
Before the Second World War, during the Depression Era, the US economy was in terrible shape. However, the world economy was in even worse shape. Although the United States was doing all it could to fix everything, things did not get better until right before the war. However, one thing that did not really happen was the loss of faith in Capitalism in the US. According to my British Finance Professor, in many areas of Europe, the consensus going around was that Capitalism had failed, and a new system is required. However, most places understood that Communism was not the best alternative either, and the path to having a mixed economy was paved. In Europe today, the word 'Socialist' carries a positive connotation, very different from the connotation it carries in the US.
In the post war world, the US was really the only nation that came out better off than when they went in. The US had a massive competitive advantage in terms of trade with the rest of the world, largely due to most of the world's industry being destroyed. The US helped the Europeans a little bit by the Marshall Plan, but nonetheless, we were the main beneficiaries of business in the post war world. It was at this time that the US really grew to become recognized and the wealthiest nation in the world.
In nations where there is a great deal of overpopulation, the income divide becomes even more visible. People who are hard working and have jobs are forced to live in extremely substandard housing, do not have access to education or other services. As my professor would put it, "Where the rich are bloody rich, and the poor are dirt poor." In the US, with a population between 200 and 300 million people, this is not a problem. As a result, we see people who are extremely poor as people who are lazy, despite this not being the case.
In places where problems like this occur, communism from the perspective of the poor masses makes sense. In situations like that, despite hard work, they do not get anywhere, and see the wealthy industrialists getting rich off of their labor. It was not until I saw this in Eastern Europe and Asia did I fully grasp and understand what Marx was talking about. I always believed him to be exaggerating and being very deceptive. But I realize now that he was only expressing the anger of those masses who were being squeezed.
Aside from Economic reasons, the cold war, fought between the political ideologies of the Capitalists and Communists, indoctrinated and stereotyped both sides of the conflict. As a result, neither side will understand eachother. Most Americans today automatically associate Communism with evil. Just the same, most people in Communist nations immediately connote the US with the evils of Capitalism. Just go to Cuba and ask around.
In America, life is good. Capitalism has worked extremely well for us. However, we must understand that our national wealth is just as much due to luck as it is due to dilligence. If not for the post-war circumstances, for the work of certain laws encouraging business, and a lot of pre existing per capita wealth, our nation would not be in its state today. In this state, is is very easy to become ignorant to the woes of the rest of the world. The American working class is extremely different from the working class of other parts of the world. Even working class American people can buy food and send their kids to school. But working class people in some other parts of the world can't do this. As a result, we are unable, and never will be able, to understand communism and why it has come about.