Elites have not felt such fear in half a century, and it’s not the usual fear of losing an election, failing to ‘reform’ or seeing their shares slide on the stock market, but fear of insurrection, revolt, and loss of power. The [Yellow Vest] street protests on 1 December 2018 caused some to feel a sudden chill.–From a recent edition of the French newspaper Le Monde diplomatique
When Donald Trump attacked the “new calls to adopt socialism” during his State of the Union address, he was apparently referring to the recently prominent Sanders/Cortez faction of the Democratic Party. But Sanders and Cortez are just the beginning of what Trump should be worried about.
There’s a growing movement of people who want to do away with the class system entirely. Unlike Sanders, these true socialists don’t just want reforms to the capitalist system. They want to replace it with an egalitarian model where the people control the means of production, distribution, and exchange. Sanders’ agenda only includes the implementation of social programs similar to those of the capitalist Scandinavian welfare states. The more radical people he’s helped embolden want to move towards a post-capitalist world.
This authentically socialist strain is what Trump and the rest of the ruling class should be the most scared of. Unlike Sanders, they don’t seek to compromise with the system that keeps the rich in power. They seek to bring down the whole setup of capitalism so that society can fulfill the purpose of socialism-which, as Albert Einstein wrote, is “to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development.” And the socialists may now be closer than ever to accomplishing this goal.
The last half century of upward redistribution of wealth is having consequences. After an exceptionally prolific period for strikes and protests throughout 2018, workers’ rebellions are still escalating. In America, strike action has hit a 32 year high, with the teacher’s strikes continuing while strikes have been staged by hotel and utility workers. From the auto workers strike in Matamoros, Mexico to the strikes by South Africa’s gold miners, this trend has also been happening globally. Most amazing is the recent strike in India, wherein 200 million demonstrated against their corporatist government. We’ve entered a revolutionary period, where poor and working people are becoming increasingly militant in their demands for an end to global inequality.
This rebellion is also being expressed through the Yellow Vest movement. Since they began in France in response to Macron’s reign of neoliberalism, anti-inequality protests in the image of the Yellow Vests have happened in numerous countries, from Russia to Ireland to Israel to Iraq. Meanwhile, I’m doing all I can to ignite an American Yellow Vest movement, and I know there are many other activists out there who have the same goal.
According to the global charter of the Yellow Vests, this movement’s goal is to create an egalitarian society, wherein “profits that arise from punching numbers into a computer (such as money creation from mortgages and credit cards) needs to enrich and service the public, not private shareholders.” Their charter also calls for universal health care, the dismantling of all media monopolies, and decentralization, in which “all services from government and otherwise should be locally organized.” This is effectively a call for socialism, because under capitalism, these goals are self-defeating.
The existence of a capitalist class ensures that the wealth society produces won’t be used to benefit humanity as a whole; universal health care is one of the social programs that’s vulnerable to being rolled back as long as capitalism exists; media monopolies and other forms of corporate power inevitably take hold in capitalist societies; and neither decentralization nor democracy are possible in a system where the means of production are controlled by a small circle of business owners. Socialism is the only way to create the society that the Yellow Vests demand, and it’s the only path to full equality and dignity for the workers who are carrying out this year’s strikes.
So as more people around the world participate in these movements, socialism is naturally becoming more popular. A Gallup poll from last year shows that a minority of self-identified liberals now have a favorable view of capitalism, while a majority of liberals and people under 30 prefer to live in a socialist society. This pro-socialist trend of popular opinion will no doubt continue as inequality increases, and as the current factors for financial destabilization soon result in a new economic crash.
Anti-capitalist revolutions have happened many times throughout history, which is why pro-business politicians and media outlets have spent the last century trying to make socialism and communism taboo. But as our current series of social and environmental crises have emerged as a result of capitalism, nothing has been able to stop people from looking for a different system. Unless an outright socialist revolution is staved off through reforms to capitalism, as happened in the 1930’s, capitalism will be overthrown entirely.