Saturday, January 2, 2010

Social Democrats vs "Progressives"

Social Democracy functions as a political means to control (we may call it "regulate") otherwise out-of-control and tending-toward-corporate Capitalism. It does not destroy Capitalism or replace Capitalism. Social Democracy curbs the worst tendencies of Capitalism, and it -- generally -- prevents Corporatism from developing and flourishing.

The premise of Social Democracy is that the People are ultimately sovereign over all issues, political, social, and economic, and through their employment of strong Democratic institutions, they are able to set and direct political, social, and economic policies in their mutual interest. Democracy doesn't always get things right, but if properly understood and employed, it can protect the weak from the depredations of the strong, it can mitigate the abuses inherent in unfettered Capitalism, and it can ensure fair and equitable economic and social as well as narrow legal justice.

"Progressives" in this country at least are considered throw-back Conservatives in most of the rest of the world, and what passes for conservatism (which is really straight-out Corporatism) in this country is despised as basic, stripped-down Fascism elsewhere. Our Conservatives are akin to the traditional ruling juntas in Latin America -- a phase of their history that most of Latin America (Honduras excepted) is proud to have put behind them.

"Progressives" in this country are highly influenced by Libertarianism, and many so-called "Progressives" are in fact opportunistic Libertarians. Libertarianism tends to be a fringe right-wing political/social/economic cult rather than a functioning political/social/economic movement. It's at least partially derived from notions of the origins of the United States -- with many diversions over the utility of the Revolution (or was it "really" a Revolution?), arguments over the meaning of the Constitution, sometimes advocacy of a revival of the pre-Constitutional confederacy, etc.

It's been said that Libertarians are Republicans who smoke dope and have lots of sex; "Progressives" could be said to be Libertarians who have a rudimentary social conscience.

Social Democrats are Mutualists (yes, yes, I know, they were "collectivists" back in the day, but those days are gone, and the structure of Marxism as it used to be implemented ain't coming back.) "Progressives," on the other hand, are fierce Individualists, each one an island unto itself. Social Democrats consolidate and agree -- and move forward; "Progressives" split off, atomize, disagree, argue endlessly -- and stand still. Not even incremental progress -- except as individuals accumulating notice, power and treasure unto themselves.

They are not "Leftists." Not even remotely.

We see how anti-Leftist they are in the current antipathy toward the Health Care Reform bills now being finalized. They are, of course, not opposed to Health Care Reform per se, they're just opposed to paying for it, specifically they are opposed to being compelled to pay for insurance they are convinced they will never use, or if they do use it, they won't receive the coverage or treatment they believe is their due. And they are deeply resentful of having to pay anything toward anyone else's health care expenses, such as by being taxed to support the subsidies that are supposed to go to less-well-off Americans to make this "junk insurance" they will be forced to buy "affordable."

They want a Public Option, they say. Something that is never quite defined -- much like "Progressive" itself -- but which is an idea marketed as a government operated alternative to the private insurance market. But what, exactly, that is supposed to be is anybody's guess.

Social Democrats, real Leftists, don't bother with the bullshit of exchanges and markets and options and choices and menus and whatnot when it comes to Health Care Reform. They just go right to the point: what used to be called "Single Payer" (which ultimately was gibberish except to initiates) but is now known as "Medicare for All" -- which people understand.

All the "Progressive" argument over the Public Option is just argument for its own sake. It won't get you where you need to be on the one hand, and it's not going to happen anyway on the other. It never was. It was and is a Chimera.

And yet "Progressives" are obsessed with it.

They drop-kicked any interest in Single Payer/Medicare for All before the contest even began because they were told, and they believed, that there was no way to move a Medicare for All program through the Congress, and the Public Option was the preferred alternative of the Powers That Be. Only it turned out not to be true. The PTB wanted nothing to do with a Public Option -- except, perhaps, as a shiny object to keep the "Progressives" entertained.

Now that the Public Option has failed utterly -- in fact, everything the "Progressives" wanted and advocated for has been stripped from the Senate bill -- some "Progressives" (calling themselves Principled!) are tentatively getting on the Medicare For All bandwagon, saying that's what they always wanted anyway, they did, really, yep.

Meanwhile hurling barrages of insults at all and sundry for questioning their motives and their judgement and hooking up with the most reactionary elements in the political firmament to "resist" whatever is coming out of the Sausage Factory.

OK, then.

Social Democrats have always been fully in favor of a Single Payer/Medicare For All health care reform, modeled on the health care programs in Europe -- where Social Democrats got this thing done ages ago -- and have never wavered, never had any interest in the shiny objects the Corporatists and HCI lobbyists have been tossing out like candy.

It doesn't matter whether you can "move" the legislation to implement it through Congress, at least not in the short term. You start with the principles you believe in and you stick to them, you do not waver or advocate for an alternative (and suppress what you "really" want) in the hopes of getting where you "really" want to be in the bye and bye.

You may have to get where you want to be piecemeal, which is why a Social Democrat may be able to accept what comes out of the Sausage Factory -- without a Public Option, and without supporting the bill.

Why? Simple: as odious as the straight out give aways to the Industry are, Bernie Sanders (a Social Democrat) has managed to put in a provision for the establishment and support of thousands, ultimately more than ten thousand, public health clinics open to all comers, insured or not insured, to provide routine health care to the to those who currently cannot get it.

THAT is a STEP toward correcting the flaws in our health care delivery system, expanding access to CARE -- which is the fundamental problem -- which could lead to the establishment of a rational nationwide health care system serving all Americans.

Hm. What a concept.

The mind boggles.

Yes, the giveaways to Industry are odious. The individual mandate to buy "crap insurance" -- if that's what the mandate actually turns out to be -- may indeed spark legitimate resistance. If the reform that passes causes a sudden widespread reduction of coverage at a significantly higher price to the masses, there will be a strong reaction.

On the other hand, if it provides access to care that was otherwise unavailable, if it provides some mechanism to curb the extraordinary inflation in health care costs (a mechanism not discernible from this vantage point), and if it provides some tangible benefit to substantial numbers of Americans then the reaction won't be any worse than that to Medicare Part D.

Which is what I think our Corporatist-serving government is angling for.

We'll see.

And then we have the whole issue of transforming the Corporatist-serving government into one that serves The People.

A whole nother kettle of fish.

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