Accuracy in Media

Finally, the Washington Post has done it. It has called for turning America into a socialist country.

In a piece that appeared on the Post’s website Tuesday, Elizabeth Bruenig, a columnist for the Post, said it’s “time to give socialism a try.”

Her argument seems to be that capitalism is not working for liberals and that to save liberalism, the left must pursue something more. Socialism is that something more.

“In the United States, we’ve arrived at a pair of mutually exclusive convictions: that liberal, capitalist democracies are guaranteed by their nature to succeed and that in our Trumpist moment they seem to be failing in deeply unsettling ways.

Efforts to square the two “have typically combined expressions of high anxiety with reassurances that, if we only have the right attitude, everything will set itself aright.

“Hanging on and hoping for the best is certainly one approach to rescuing the best of liberalism from its discontents, but my answer is admittedly more ambitious: It’s time to give socialism a try.”

She says liberals are stuck in what she called “everyday Fukuyama-ism,” the notion the end of the Cold War signaled the end of history and we can “only look forward to the unceasing rise of Western-style, liberal-democratic capitalism.”

“It’s easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism,” she quotes liberal scholar Mark Fisher as saying.

“There are moments when everything I have come to believe in – reasoned deliberation, mutual toleration, liberal democracy, free speech, honesty, decency and moderation – seem as if they are in eclipse,” columnist Andrew Sullivan said.

Bruenig says with Americans appearing to be “isolated, viciously competitive, suspicious of one another and spiritually shallow,” we are looking for “some kind of attachment to something real and profound in an age of decreasing trust and regard.”

Capitalism “encourages and requires fierce individualism, self-interested disregard for the other and resentment of arrangements into which one deposits more than he or she withdraws,” she said, and that a “business-savvy friend” once told her “nobody gets rich off of bilateral transactions where everybody knows what they’re doing.” 

Bruenig says capitalism is far more encompassing as an ideology than it wants to admit. Every relationship turns into a calculable exchange. “Bodies, time, energy, creativity, love – all become commodities to be priced and sold,” she writes.” There is no room for sustained contemplation and little interest in public morality.”

She would not be a “totalitarian nostalgist,” she wrote. Rather, she would “support a kind of socialism that would be democratic and aimed primarily at decommodifying labor, reducing the vast inequality brought about by capitalism and breaking capital’s stranglehold over politics and culture.”

“But it seems to me that it’s time for those who expected to enjoy the end of history to accept that, though they’re linked in certain respects, capitalism seems to be at odds with the harmonious, peaceful, stable liberalism of midcentury dreams. I don’t think we’ve reached the end of history yet, which means we still have the chance to shape the future we want. I suggest we take it.”

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