As capitalist economies collapse, as unemployment soars to new levels, there remains the case of Norway which is based on Socialist principles and had endured the crisis without encountering the problems of capitalism. Several economists are now returning to the ideas of Karl Marx in order to re-think his comments concerning the destiny of capitalism. A difficulty in discussing “Socialism” with modern people is their confusion concerning the term. Many associate “Socialism” with the USSR which used that expression or NAZI Germany which used the expression. This is akin to saying: “Christians conducted the Inquisition. Christians committed genocide in the New World, therefore, all Christians are guilty of genocide and believe in the Inquisition.” There are Christians and there are Christians. Make a list of people who refer to themselves as “Christian” and have absolutely nothing in common with one another.
Marx was NOT the initial Socialist. There were “Utopian Socialists” prior to him and he hated Utopian Socialists. Several Utopian Socialists experiments were attempted in America during the 19th century. Among the best selling books in 19th century America was Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” which describes a free Socialist America in 2000 which has eliminated poverty. Marx accurately identified that Capitalists were greedy and exploited people creating the concept of ‘alienation’ of the worker from his/her work. He described the spread of globalization and competition between capitalists in the world–certainly his prediction is accurate. He predicted there would be rising unemployment and urged a society in which the needs of workers would be protected from the evil of exploitation. He misinterpreted the ability of some capitalists to recognize workers needed decent pay in order to purchase products. But, has not the greed of Wall Street exemplified his belief the first priority of capitalists is their own welfare, not that of society or those who do the work of in society?
My comments are simplistic and reduce complexity of economics to a few cliches,(sorry, Marx can not be explained in a sentence or so),but how do critics of Socialism explain that Norway has been using Socialist principles and has created a modern society which provides a high standard of living and the government runs a surplus including a $300 billion fund to invest for the future? In Capitalist America, 45 million people lack medical care, in Capitalistic America there is no free early childhood care, in Capitalist America there are no paid paternity and maternity leaves for couples, in Capitalist America there is no base economic security for those who lose their jobs.
The future will eventually lead to combining the best features of Capitalism with the best features of socialism. In the first decade of the 20th century, the American Socialist Party led by Gene Debs urged addressing the ills of capitalism without calling for its end. It was Gene Debs who opposed the madness of America’s blunder in entering World War I rather than seeking to end the fighting. And, Gene Debs remains the only presidential candidate in American history who was imprisoned for opposing a war.
Perhaps, it is time to study what is beneficial in Norway and apply some of those principles in order to save capitalism from its own greed. Who today can deny that Marx was right about the inherent selfishness and greed of capitalists? I have a hunch those being fired would prefer a dose of socialism that would provide them a decent unemployment package, including access to medical care.