As the Occupy movement continues on despite media reports of its demise, there have been a few very revalatory incidents from the opponents of Occupy Wall Street. Not only do we have Ann Coulter, one of the most widely heralded voices of the right, advocating openly for a "Kent State" solution, but virtually every pundit, every forum discussion has focused on the movement, which many see as Socialist. If I were to count the times I have been called a "useful idiot" by these people in open discussion, I would need several extra fingers and toes.
This is, in a nutshell, the new McCarthyism. Even speaking out in support of the movement is considered radical, and I have no shortage of well meaning friends "helpfully" filling my inbox with commentaries on the "evil" Wall Street movement. Often, the commentaries focus on the vandalism and the now absolutely infamous (and similarly isolated) incident or a protestor using a police cruiser as a toilet. But more often than not, the charge of "communism" is rampant throughout the discussion.
Before I continue further in this discussion, let me be clear that I am not a communist, although I consider it sad that such a qualifier would be considered necessary by any rational individual claiming to even have a modicum of free thought.
I have long thought that in the McCarthy era, as now, the debate was focused on the wrong subject. Even if the accusations of McCarthy and his henchmen were true, why is it relevant? We pride ourselves on the free exchange of ideas in this country, yet nothing could be further from the truth when we deliberately suppress ideas, deliberately disqualify them from consideration in public civil discourse.
The truth is, in a free society where people are free to self determine their future, that freedom should allow as much freedom to exercise certain elements of socialist economic thought as it does to the warped version of economic feudalism that we've wrongly labelled "capitalism". It is, after all, not a free and open electoral process if certain candidates and certain ideologies are not allowed to even be debated in the public forum.
The truth is, casualties of "capitalism" are just as rampant as casualties of "communism". The difference is, we do a better job of hiding it. We don't count the deaths of people who die from preventable diseases because we attribute those to lifestyle decisions. We don't count the deaths of those who freeze to death or burn up in our inner city tenements because we ascribe those to carelessness on the part of slumlords, who we rarely prosecute for their negligence. We don't count the suicides of those who failed financially because we ascribe that to mental illness. Similarly, we don't count the abortions by parents in impoverished regions who choose abortion because they feel it is preferable to raising a child in the ghettoes. But most of all, we don't count the deaths of both citizens and soldiers in foreign nations where our nation building has crushed them under the wheels of our war machine. If you counted those casualties, the bloody nature of the system we currently have in place would easily meet, if not exceed, the statistics of those who suffered under Communist dictators.
This is not to say Communism is right. I personally abhor Communism just as I am beginning to abhor a laundry list of other "isms". But if we are to be honest, we should abandon the notion that our system is preferable simply on the government's word alone.
Until we truly embrace a free exchange of ideas, we can expect the same endless line of failed politicians, failed policies, and the same old cookie cutter lies coming forth. If we want to make real and meaningful change, we have to accept that several things need to drastically change as regards our current modus operandi.
And that cannot happen if we abandon ideas based not on reason but our own preconceived notions.