Tuesday, October 07, 2008

I don't hate America

In fact, I want Americans, the same Americans that Palin seeks to speak for, to have more money, have better jobs, and more control over their lives. There's a distinct difference between the American government and America in the way people usually use the term. The government serves power in the U.S. and pursues a foreign policy for the benefit of these elites while packaging it in patriotism for domestic consumption. The government serves corporate power, the government is not America.

America, as most people use the word, is a more abstract concept, something that has to do with way of life and values, and here the question of socialism comes into relief. Socialism isn't anti-American in the way that the Bush administration uses the term, but is it incompatible with American values? Freedom, liberty, self determination, and on the fringes a skepticism about large accumulations of power. Sounds like Anarchism to me. I have to temper it a little bit, though, because it's a little hard to be ultra-skeptical of general accumulations of power when you live in a major city like Seattle, or something bigger like New York or L.A. or Boston. For people living here large accumulations of power are a fact of life and it's hard to see how these cities could be transformed into decentralized back to the land communities. But be that as it may, the point stands that there are forms of socialism that are very much compatible with many American values. However, socialists in general have a different take on what the land of opportunity means.

America as a place where people coming from poor nations with not much more than the shirt on their backs and making it is a righteous and courageous ideal. But although some succeed there are many others who work and work without getting back what they give. There are people all around the country, not just recent immigrants but the great grandchildren of immigrants or even further back who work and do their best but are cheated out of what they deserve. On the other side of the coin there are people who do relatively nothing, who are stupider and lazier than many working folks, who get everything handed to them. America as the land of opportunity needs an adjustment to make that ideal a reality, and that adjustment means giving workers what they deserve while taking away resources from people who don't deserve them.

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