Having defeated the Soviet Union and the socialist camp in the Cold War, America found itself in a difficult position. Economic recession, unpopular policy of military aggression, increasing social stratification and total control of security services undermined the legitimacy of the authorities. Discontent is growing, and one is left to wonder what it may lead to.
"A specter is haunting Europe, the specter of communism."
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
The grand communist project, that came ahead of its time and shook a half of the world, died. The USSR collapsed and turned into a training ground for wild market; China faced the capitalist model of economic development, whereas smaller countries of the former socialist camp, like Cuba, that suddenly found themselves without the support of the Soviet Union, were simply unable to withstand the siege alone and gradually surrendered. Capitalism won, but will it last?
Ironically, the very existence of the Soviet Union could not help but slow down the spread of communist ideas in the rest of the world.
Capitalist regimes received a very clear example of what consequences the teachings of Marx could lead to. This led them to take urgent measures to prevent the development of similar scenarios at home. There were extraordinary efforts taken in this direction. First, in order to slightly flatten social stratification, Western capitalism agreed to make small concessions in terms of work conditions and remuneration. The life of American and European workers became better than it was in the XIX century. These measures were complemented by state propaganda that firmly hammered the image of "bloody communism" into the heads of the proletariat. In addition, there were repressive measures taken against American Communists during the McCarthy era. Perhaps, if the Western elite had had no time to take those measures, and if the growth of socialist sentiments had caught them by surprise, the fate of many European countries would have been different.
Perhaps, Leon Trotsky may have been right, when he insisted that one should not stop at one national revolution, but continue to spread communism around the world and export revolutions instead. However, Stalin chose not to take risks. Maybe it was a mistake, who knows?
Back in the 1940s, many workers of America were at the bottom of the heap.
You load sixteen tons, and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.
Saint Peter, don't you call me, 'cause I can't go;
I owe my soul to the company store
The song, "Sixteen Tons," describes the lives of American miners of that era: backbreaking work, enslavement, when workers would receive coupons instead of money for their work that they could then exchange for goods in company stores. Formally, there were laws passed to limit working hours, but in fact, capitalists could easily bypass such restrictions by simply lowering the wages, and people would be forced to ask for extra work to survive. Moreover, describing the lives of Americans, many often forget to mention the phenomenon of social stratification within the working class. Working conditions and salaries of a skilled worker were fundamentally different from those of a black worker, immigrant or African American.
The absence of social security is another important factor that threatens the stability of the American political system. Health insurance, as well as education, is not affordable to all. In addition, the problem is compounded by exorbitant prices for medical services.
Today, there is a serious social stratification in the United States. In addition to residents of "black" neighborhoods, there is a large stratum of the so-called "white trash." Poverty in the face of fierce capitalism tends to reproduce itself, creating a vicious circle. Ideas of social Darwinism, widely spread in the financial elite, have one major flaw. Expecting something from a person, who, as a child, was deprived of good education and the ability to compete with people from good schools and universities - that is something pretty despicable. Education in the United States is very fragmented. The difference in the level of teaching in elite and ordinary schools is huge - this is due to the lack of a unified educational program. As a result, schools simply adapt themselves to their audience, depending on location.
With the disappearance of the Soviet Union as the main "scarecrow" for the Americans, the ruling classes in the U.S. attempted to invent another "enemy of the nation" in the face of Islamic terrorism. However, the information that Al-Qaeda, in fact, is a brainchild of the Pentagon, could not but dampen the experience. To crown it all, all are fed up with constant wars unleashed by the American government. Anti-war sentiments have been strong in the country since the war in Vietnam.
Waves of economic crises that characterize market economy are another stressful factor for the political system. Inevitability of another economic crisis hangs over the market economy like the sword of Damocles.
In March 2013, an article by Michael Schumann was published in Time magazine titled "Marx's revenge: How Class Struggle Is Shaping the World."
"A growing dossier of evidence suggests that he (Marx) may have been right. It is sadly all too easy to find statistics that show the rich are getting richer while the middle class and poor are not. A September study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in Washington noted that the median annual earnings of a full-time, male worker in the U.S. in 2011, at $48,202, were smaller than in 1973. Between 1983 and 2010, 74% of the gains in wealth in the U.S. went to the richest 5%, while the bottom 60% suffered a decline, the EPI calculated. No wonder some have given the 19th century German philosopher a second look," the journalist wrote.
The death of the Soviet Union and the collapse of the socialist camp, seem to have untied the hands of big business, setting it free from the fear of revolutionary changes in their own countries. Therefore, it is not surprising that the difference in the level of welfare of different groups of the population is gradually increasing.
In 2011, George Soros predicted that the world economy would soon face monstrous recession. His predictions have not come true yet, however, one should not neglect an opinion from a brilliant financier. Many other experts believe so too, not to mention the fact that such a development is entirely appropriate from historical positions.
At its core, capitalism is just an economic system that will be forced to eventually give way to a new system when time comes. More than just likely, a successor to capitalism will be socialist economy.
In the early days of its formation, capitalism was cruel but effective. Sharp rise in industrial production, active expansion of production companies, industrial development - all of this appeared within the capitalist model of production.
Now, however, this system has exhausted its potential. The market is gradually becoming obsolete, Reaganomics failed. One of the most vulnerable places in market economy is overextended securities market, the collapse of which provokes new waves of economic crises. Previously, one could praise the market for flexibility that command economy did not have, then the current development of information technology allows to level the difference. Perhaps, the experience of the Soviet Union was a "false start" of communism, as the tasks that were set before economy, objectively did not correspond to the level of scientific and productive forces.
Is there any chance that America will become home to a new socialist revolution? This question sounds unreal, but still ...
Journalist, sociologist, Doctor of Political Sciences, Boris Kagarlitsky, shared his opinion with Pravda.Ru.
"Paradoxically, anti-capitalist sentiments in the American society have always been strong. Very often, they were not associated with any positive socialist or communist ideology. Rather, this is hostility of an average American to the rules and behavior of the ruling elite, large corporations, bureaucracy and bourgeoisie. If one talks to ordinary Americans in the province, one may often hear radical anti-capitalist speeches from people. Moreover, if one tells such people that they sound like socialists, they would be terribly surprised and frightened to hear that.
The U.S. is experiencing a very strong historical crisis now. The crisis is connected with the loss of confidence in the elite, and with the fact that the country loses its position as the global supremacist that the United States was after the collapse of the USSR. Of course, we are not saying that America will collapse, or a revolution will take place there, but it should expect tough times, a series of shocks."
Probably, shocks are in store not only for America. Agony of old formations is inevitably accompanied by shocks - this is a long and difficult process. Trying to keep control of the situation, the U.S. elite has taken the path of tightening the regime, having created a police state in the country, whose basic value has traditionally been personal freedom of every citizen (for the Russian nation - ideas of justice). Total surveillance, the dominance of police (in the bad sense of the word) and special services will rather encourage ordinary Americans to protest activity and discredit the power of capital.
It is worth noting that the sitting U.S. president partly understands that there is a need for change in the country. But any attempt to reform the system and balance it out, taking away privileges away from the financial elite for the benefit of lower social strata, comes across stiff resistance from conservative circles , as it was the case with the introduction of free medical care.
The trouble is that it is extremely difficult to bring about change with the use of pinpoint measures under the conditions of classical capitalism. Drastic measures are needed. Figuratively speaking, one needs to turn tables. But Obama is not ready.