The "S" word has taken over the airwaves and cable television in the closing days of the US presidential campaign. Suddenly, Barack Obama is a "Socialist" or "Marxist" in the eyes of John McCain, Sarah Palin and much of the media. This line of attack is meant to scare voters into rejecting the Democrat. The neo-conservative daily Washington Times has even labeled Barack Obama a "Third-World Socialist", referring to his African father.
"If Mr. Obama became president, it would be the first time in history that an American president hailed from a Third-World lineage (Mr. Obama's father came from Kenya, an unmistakably Third World country). Now, since you cannot change where your parents came from, there is nothing inherently wrong with a president having Third-World parents. However, in Mr. Obama's case, this Third-World nexus is relevant because it may help explain his apparent proclivity for radical socialist ideas commonly seen in the Third World. "
Problem is, most Americans only have a vague idea of what Socialism is. And, 19 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the word no longer has the negative connotation it once had during the Cold War. And now the Federal Government has stepped in and - with the support of John McCain- nationalized the US banking system: this was sold to the American people as a good and necessary step to prevent the total collapse of the global financial markets. Wall Street bankers - the few that are left - wear buttons that read "We are all Socialists now". So how bad can Socialism be?
In any event, the Socialism smear doesn't appear to be working for the McCain campaign, as the Republican falls further behind in the polls. Americans have seen the effect of the neo-liberal agenda of deregulation and privatization and are not happy. If anything, they cling to Social Security and Medicare and would like to see these "Socialist" programs expanded.
Nor is the situation any different in Germany, where the third biggest political party is openly Marxist. A new poll published today in Der Spiegel shows that the majority of Germans favor the nationalization of key industries. They by a large majority - also among conservative voters - they also favor the government taking partial control of corporations in order to prevent foreign takeovers:
Am größten ist die Zustimmung zur Verstaatlichung der Strom- und Gaskonzerne. 77 Prozent der Deutschen wünschen dies. 84 Prozent der Grünen sind dafür und sogar knapp drei Viertel der Unionsanhänger (73 Prozent) sowie 70 Prozent der FDP-Wähler. Aus Sicht der meisten Bürger sollten auch die Finanzindustrie wie Banken und Versicherungen (64 Prozent) und Logistikunternehmen wie Fluglinien, Bahn und Post (60 Prozent) zumindest teilweise staatlich sein. (The highest level approval was for the nationalization of the electric and gas utilities. 77% of Germans want that. 84% of the Green Party members are in favor as well as even three-quarters of conservatives and 70% of the free-market Liberals. In the view of the majority of citizens the financial enterprises - banks and insurers - as well as key logistical enterprises such as rail, airlines and the postal system should all be at least partially nationalized.)