Listening to conservatives at the CPAC conference last week is a remarkable experience. It might make you laugh, it might make you cry, or most likely both. It will probably give you a headache and raise your blood pressure if you listen too long, so do be careful. But if you listen to the underlying ideas, one thing comes through over and over again, which is that any form of government involvement in the economy to help working families or lower income folks — from the minimum wage to Social Security, from Medicare to feeding hungry children — is Socialism with a capital S.In my thinking, these are forms of socialism. But something like the minimum wage is best understood as the form of socialism that's concerned with the distribution/management of socially produced wealth. Universal health insurance, on the other hand, is what I call the cosmic form of socialism—the socialism that's concerned with the realities of luck and bad luck. The cosmic form of socialism also participates in the management of wealth, in the sense that it recognizes and addresses/corrects this other reality: luck and bad luck play a big role in who is rich and who is not.
But this is just one way of explaining socialism. Another way is certainly held by the Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and this will be indeed the matter of a conversation with her tomorrow at Town Hall. The big questions: What is socialism and why is it meaningful today? Educator and political theorist Deepa Bhandaru will lead the conversation.
- Kelly O
For more socialism, go and see the film Northern Lights at Grand Illusion.