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Has America gone socialist?

15 1 0

WASHINGTON - We Americans are all socialists now. That’s news. Since at least 1906, scholars have contended just the opposite. What happened in 1906 was that Werner Sombart, a now-obscure German sociologist, published a book titled “Why Is There No Socialism in the United States?” Unlike Europe, America was hostile to socialism, Sombart argued.

Prosperity was one cause; it weakened revolutionary consciousness. The economy enjoyed some natural advantages: fertile land, ample resources and good harbors. But the larger cause was the resistance of American workers. Obsessed with “getting ahead,” they felt that socialism might hold them back.

Sombart wrote: “I believe that emotionally the American worker has a share in capitalism: I believe he loves it. Anyway, he devotes his entire body and soul to it. … [T]he worker wants to earn as much as his strength will allow, and to be as unrestrained as possible.”

Well, history has finally caught up with Sombart. The term socialism is now increasingly bandied about by pundits, scholars and presidential candidates. The result is much confusion. Many Democrats deny that their proposals (say, Medicare-for-all) are socialism; Republicans claim that they are, trying to tap into Americans’ historical opposition.

Let’s try to dispel some confusion.

It’s true that........

© The Japan Times