Opinion

The fear of socialism

A professor recently told me, in response to a question I asked him, that 95 percent of Americans probably don’t know who Eugene Debs is. Very briefly then: Eugene Debs was an American politician and a member of the Socialist Party who won 6 percent of the vote in the 1912 Presidential election. He bravely fought against intervention in the carnage of WWI and was instrumental in the 1894 Pullman Strike. During the First Red Scare of 1917, he was thrown in prison for his political sentiments.

I’m thinking of the great Eugene Debs these days because, as the election draws near, Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin appear to be encouraging a Third Red Scare. Their campaign seems increasingly devoted to reigniting the irrational American fear of anything that can, justifiably or not, be called socialism. In response to Sen. Obama’s tax plan, the feeble-minded Sarah Palin boldly claimed that “now is no time to experiment with socialism.” Sen. McCain, likewise, accused Barack Obama of having a furtively socialist agenda.

Alone, the fact that the Republicans are pushing further right at a time when the economy needs the exact opposite is enough to illuminate their lack of qualification. They’re mavericks alright – loose cannons with poor judgment, gun-slingers whose politics are markedly irresponsible, particularly concerning the economy.

The bailout plan in itself is one of the most “socialist” policies in American history, so for the McCain campaign to accuse Barack Obama of being a socialist – and, as if it weren’t already enough, a terrorist – shows that the old man and the hockey mom are profoundly out of touch with reality.

I would encourage all students at UM to be more familiar with socialist thought; contrary to what politicians want you to believe, it isn’t evil. The legacy of the Left is very complex and fascinating, and Americans – at least on a national level – don’t seem to understand that.

“The socialist movement,” Christopher Hitchens writes, “enabled universal suffrage, the imposition of limits upon exploitation, and the independence of colonial and subject populations. Where it succeeded, one can be proud of it.” Be proud, comrades, of the intellectual and moral achievements of individuals such as Jean Jaures, Karl Marx and Albert Camus. Be proud, America, of Eugene Debs, who fought bravely and admirably for what he believed in, and went to jail because of it.

October 22, 2008

Reporters

Morten Hoi Jensen

Contributing Opinion Writer


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The Miami Hurricanes started the season No. 8 nationally in both major polls. Now, they’re nowhere t ...

With a bye week on the horizon, the meager University of Miami offense has nearly two weeks to attem ...

As bleak as it seems now for the University of Miami, the Canes can still take a repeat trip to Char ...

A half dozen takeaways from UM’s demoralizing 16-13 loss at Virginia on Saturday: ▪ As was the case ...

So, who’s the quarterback now? The No. 16 Miami Hurricanes came to Charlottesville on Saturday with ...

More than 600 students participate in the National Gandhi Day of Service, the largest annual service ...

Home Truth, the story of Jessica Lenahan’s pursuit of more effective domestic violence laws, screene ...

Members of the UM community who want to donate to relief efforts for those impacted by Hurricanes Mi ...

The University of Miami’s Model UN is working to expand its membership and reputation with its first ...

During a keynote address at a conference in Los Angeles, entrepreneurial heavyweight Magic Leap anno ...

The Miami Hurricanes volleyball team improved to 10-5, 6-2 in the ACC, with a 3-0 sweep of Boston Co ...

The Miami women's tennis team closed the Bedford Cup with a perfect day, winning each match in ...

Playing in front of a boisterous home crowd, the University of Miami soccer team earned a, 1-1, draw ...

The Hurricanes fell in their ACC road opener to the Virginia Cavaliers. ...

The Canes have won five straight games and are 2-0 in the ACC, but they know they have a tough road ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.