Famous American Socialists
- Eugene Debs (Five time presidential candidate for Socialist Party)
- Norman Thomas (Six time presidential candidate for Socialist Party, staunch anti-Communist)
- Michael Harrington (Author of The Other America)
According to Inequality.org, income disparity in America is best seen by the wealth of just a few Americans:
The most visible indicator of wealth inequality in America today may be the Forbes magazine list of the nation’s 400 richest. In 2018, the three men at the top of that list — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, and investor Warren Buffett — held combined fortunes worth more than the total wealth of the poorest half of Americans.
Five Socialist Criticisms of Capitalism
- Equality: Socialists contend that capitalism generates intolerable levels of inequality. They argue that it inevitably leads to a few “winners” with vast resources and a large number of “losers” with very little. In 1949, Albert Einstein wrote “Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society.”
- Democracy: Socialists argue that capitalism thwarts true democracy. While modern democratic societies do allow their citizens to vote, the influence of money on politics undermines community control of decision-making. The Democratic Socialists of America contend that “The market and its ideology is rife with internal contradictions. While capitalists abhor public planning as inefficient and counter productive, transnational corporations make decisions with tremendous social consequences, including automation, plant shutdowns and relocations, mergers and acquisitions, new investment and disinvestment–all without democratic input.”
- Autonomy: Socialists argue that capitalism robs people of meaningful control of their work lives. Like Marx contended, they believe that workers are alienated from what they produce.
- Community: Socialists believe that the competition and conflict capitalism depend on undermine a sense of solidarity among the people. This, they say, creates a culture of individualism and atomism.
- Efficiency/Rationality: Socialists argue against the position held by Hayek and Smith that capitalism is rational. They contend that it is both inefficient and irrational:
- anarchy of production: business cycles, economic crisis, boom/bust cycle, destruction of businesses because of short term slumps
- false needs:advertising, massive consumerism, planned obsolescence, artificial model changes
- ecological unsustainability: a model premised on endless need for growth and profit demands environmental destruction.
Specific Proposals Common to Democratic Socialism Today
- Democratic control over fiscal, monetary, and trade policy.
- Worker and public ownership of vital national interests, infrastructure, human services.
- Rejection of the welfare liberalism of the 1960s. They argue that it depended on ever-increasing economic growth–which can no longer drive policies. The absence of powerful unions and social movements, combined with the power of corporations and globalism, mandate a new approach from the ground up.
- Reduce income inequality and wealth disparity. Through policies like imposing a maximum wage, increased taxes on the wealthy and the like, Socialists propose leveling the economic playing field.
Norman Thomas wrote of himself: “I am not the champion of lost causes, but the champion of causes not yet won.”