Thursday, March 14, 2019
Anybody who came of age during the Cold War will remember "red-baiting" — the practice of tarring liberals and their ideas with the brush of "communism." Needless to say, "communism" and "socialism" were used interchangeably; so even a popular socialist program like Medicare (1966) was attacked as a threat to "democracy" by "the red menace."
n truth, totalitarian communism has more in common with monopolistic capitalism than with democratic socialism. In one, a tiny elite controls the government, which controls business and industry. In the other, a tiny elite controls business and industry, which controls the government. The Soviets needed more democracy; the United States needs more socialism.
The new red-baiting may be a good sign: an indicator that socialist ideas have become thinkable again. The “Green New Deal,” “Medicare for All,” and free higher education are mainstream ideas today, and steadily growing more popular. There is reason to hope that red-baiting will be far less effective in today’s politics than it was in the past.