Wall Street having nightmares about the specter of communism
The "Fearless Girl" statue faces Wall Street's charging bull statue in New York City. (Mark Lennihan/AP/file)

Ever since 1848 when Karl Marx and Frederick Engels exposed in their historic Manifesto that the specter of communism was haunting the ruling classes of Europe, the defenders of capitalism have been obsessed with exorcizing this “menace.” The specter blossomed as a full-fledged nightmare in the Feb. 7 issue of the Wall Street Journal where two columns and the lead editorial tried to dismiss the growing support for socialism in the U.S. working class, especially among the rising generation.

A column on page A2 by Greg Ip, entitled “Parsing the Lessons of True Socialism,” admonishes “young American adults” who, according to numerous polls, “prefer socialism to capitalism.” He informs them that measures like raising taxes on the rich, Medicare-for-all, replacing fossil fuels with renewables and allowing workers to choose members of corporate boards have “debased” the word “socialism.” These programs, he says, are “certainly liberal, probably radical and possibly unwise,” but they are not the real thing. Socialism, he writes, replaces “the market with the state as the means of allocating production.”

A simpler definition was given by Vladimir Lenin who led the world’s first socialist revolution in 1917 in Russia. Socialism, Lenin wrote, means working class power.

Ip warns, however, that the “liberal” proposals would “conscript private capital in the pursuit of social priorities” and “could threaten growth by diverting capital from where it garners its best returns,” in other words, they undermine Wall Street’s holy grail, which is the pursuit of maximum private profits.

But, the Journal’s editorial, entitled “Who’s Afraid of Socialism?” (page A16) says, on the contrary, these reforms do, in fact, constitute socialism. The editorial is also devoted to red-baiting Democrats for allowing such dangerous ideas to fester in their ranks. These ideas would “put private companies (like health insurance firms) out of business,” cause the “remake of American electric power, transportation and manufacturing” and “the radical redesign of corporate governance.”

“Soviet five-year plans were more modest,” the terrified editors say.

Charging to the rescue, however, is the great white knight, Donald Trump, whose State of the Union address, promised that “America will never be a socialist country.” The speech, according to another column by Lance Morrow (page A17) “was a masterpiece.” Trump repeated elements of his anti-communist “masterpiece” last night at the unofficial kick-off of his re-election campaign in El Paso.

Previously rejected for corruption, demagogy, racism and debauchery, Trump “redefined himself in a more civilized light” in his message to Congress and “dramatically advanced his chances for re-election in 2020,” Morrow claims. The speech, he writes, showed Trump to be “a leader of a thoughtful, broadly respectable patriotism” expressed in the true “American language,” which, he says, is “money—the shared idiom, the common denominator. the national theme and genius that overrides all others” Immigrants to our country, he adds, “are drawn, first of all, “by the promise of American money. Freedom and money are the keys to everything.”

So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth, from a defender of capitalism writing in the Wall Street Journal. The entire American language, the language of our novelists and essayists, our playwrights and poets, our orators and politicians, our academics, the leaders of our unions and mass movements all comes down to one word —money.

Morrow slanders the American people as he seeks to twist and squeeze our common language into the narrow mindset of Wall Street.

But at the same time, he confirms the biting criticism in the Communist Manifesto that capitalism destroys all human bonds leaving “no other bond between man (and woman) and man (and woman) than naked self-interest, than callous ‘cash payment’.” No wonder Americans in growing numbers reject such nonsense. They insist that life must be more than money grubbing. They search for a better life than one confined to the drive for maximum private corporate profits. What they are searching for is socialism.


Rick Nagin
Rick Nagin

Rick Nagin has written for People's World and its predecessors since 1970. He has been active for many years in Cleveland politics and the labor movement.