Which has failed—capitalism or socialism?
A specter is haunting the Wall Street Journal - the specter of socialism. | Kiichiro Sato / AP

Although nearly every issue of The Wall Street Journal tries to combat growing public support for socialism, this only proves that Marx and Engels got at least one thing right when they wrote in the Communist Manifesto that the specter of communism continually haunts the ruling class.

The latest foray in the Journal’s campaign is a pathetic piece on April 10 by Joshua Muravchik entitled “Socialism Fails Every Time.” Muravchik is a hardline neocon who has called for an unprovoked U.S. air war on Iran. He makes a living as a professional anti-Communist and “distinguished scholar” at various corporate think tanks. He is evidently driven by guilt for once believing in socialism when he led the Young People’s Socialist League in the late 1960s and early 1970s and later was active with the virulently anti-Communist Social Democrats USA that was closely tied to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

In any case, Muravchik now rejects even right-wing social democracy. The main point of his piece is to red-bait Bernie Sanders and any others tempted by the idea of any kind of socialism, claiming it is a delusionary pipe dream. He does believe that socialism succeeded once, but then only temporarily in Israeli kibbutzes—agricultural settlements like the utopian communities that were widespread in the United States in the 19th century before being absorbed by the surrounding dominant capitalist society.

In Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Friedrich Engels demonstrated that, while capitalism creates the working class and inevitably gives rise to movements for revolutionary change, socialism cannot be established in the framework of capitalist society. This can only happen when the working class takes power, destroys the capitalist state, and establishes a revolutionary government that can defend itself from counterrevolution and govern on behalf of working people.

Muravchik dismisses this as misguided at best and believes capitalism will always prevail. But a news article on page A9 of the same issue of the Journal gives strong reason to believe otherwise. In a piece on global economic growth, Josh Zumbrun reports that, unlike forecasts for all the major capitalist countries, the International Monetary Fund believes China’s economy will grow faster than predicted in 2019. It predicts China’s economy to grow by 6.3%, while U.S. growth will be 2.3% at most. According to the piece, the Federal Reserve believes U.S. growth will be 2.1%.

Muravchik acknowledges that six countries are today led by Communist Parties, which are dedicated to building socialism and eventually the classless society of communism. These are also countries with developing economies that use various forms of capitalism to acquire the skills, technology, and capital to establish socialism.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said he expects his country to be “moderately prosperous” by 2021 and have “a modern socialist society that is strong, democratic, cultured, and harmonious by 2049.”

His economic forecasts are completely in line with those of major capitalist economic institutions.

Under Communist Party leadership, China has already made the astonishing achievement of bringing 700 million people out of poverty between 1978 and 2015. According to a recent Pew poll, 87% of the Chinese people are happy with their economy, which includes an annual 11% rate of income growth.

While China is usually described as having the world’s second largest economy after the United States, the IMF and the CIA say the most accurate measures indicate China actually overtook the U.S. in 2014, and its economy is expected to surpass that of the U.S. by 40% in 2022 (Wall Street Journal, Oct. 17, 2017).

Similar dynamism and commitment to build socialism prevails in the other Communist Party-led countries.

So, despite Muravchik’s tantrum, socialism hardly “fails every time.” It has only begun to succeed. It is Muravchik’s belief in capitalism that is a delusion.

Capitalism is enmeshed in inextricable and endless crisis. The United States is by far the wealthiest country in human history, but, after more than 200 years, U.S. capitalism has failed to provide economic security and social justice for working people. Its vast wealth is concentrated in the hands of an ever-diminishing group of several hundred multibillionaires and is devoted primarily to generating more wealth for those few. For the people, the only future capitalism holds is war, inequality, economic hardship, curtailment of democracy, and destruction of the environment.

The specter will continue to haunt Wall Street. Support for socialism will continue to grow. Its victory is inevitable.


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.