This post has been loosely in the works for a while and was created to prove empirical claim #1 of neoreaction from Anissimov. Scott at Slate Star Codex used a computer program to analyze the results, but the graph is prima facie ludicrous. It is simply logically impossible that the US has ideologically stayed the same while the welfare state has grown as much as it has.
Recently Handle has done a little history of communism in the US for us, which prompted me to dust the post off and finish.
The United States, and most of the rest of the West, are communist. Not in a pejorative sense, but in a simple ideological sense. The majority of people in the west accept communist politics and most western countries are communist in practice if not form.
Note, when I say communist, I do not mean Stalinist, Leninist, Maoist, etc. Just as communism took different forms in Cuba, the USSR, China, et al., North American communism took its own form.
I know the immediate objection: “But the US is run by the Democrats and Republicans, both right-wing parties of capitalists. The socialist party is a joke, and the communist party almost non-existent. How can you call the US a communist country?”
Again, America is communist in ideology and function, not necessarily in form. To prove that I am going to go back about 85 years ago to 1928. The Communist Party USA released a platform (Google Books version) for the election of William Z. Foster to president. He ran against Herbert Hoover and Al Smith getting 0.13% of the vote.
Let’s look at their demands (summarized) and compare them to our modern world:
II*: The Curse of Unemployment
- Unemployment insurance.
- 40-hour, 5-day workweek forbidding overtime.
- Unemployment insurance of 8 weeks wages.
- Public kitchens providing free meals to the unemployed.
- Free medical care of the unemployed.
- Public works to create employment.
- Abolition of vagrancy laws.
The US currently has EI, a 40-hour workweek (with optional, paid overtime), SNAP, Medicaid, and numerous public works.
The federal government no longer has vagrancy laws, although states and municipalities do. Vagrancy laws have been narrowed considerably.
The US has adopted 5 and a half out of 6 Communist demands related to unemployment. (I counted #1 & 3 as a single demand).
III: The Offensive of the Bosses
- 40-hour, 5-day workweek with 48 hours consecutive rest.
- High wages.
- Fight against capitalist rationalization and mass production.
- Organize the unorganized.
- Destroy company unions.
- Amalgamate craft unions into industrial unions; democratize trade unions.
- Political struggle in addition to union struggle.
These points aren’t as clear-cut, many being calls to struggle rather than specific demands.
Of these demands, they’ve achieved a 40-hour week, high wages, and destroying company unions. The democratization of unions and amalgamation of unions has mostly been accomplished (minus one or two industries). Given that the unions control huge swaths of the Democratic Party, the last point has been achieved as well.
The communists failed to stem mass production and rationalization and unionization rates peaked at almost 35% in 1954.
The US has adopted 5 of the 7 points related to fighting the bosses.
IV: The Heroic Struggle of the Miners
- Build a new militant union in the industry, eliminate Lewis.
- Organize unorganized.
- Support two local strikes.
- Organize relief for struggling miners.
- Railroad workers don’t haul scab coal.
The third is a local problem and fifth an outdated problem, not national political problems, so I won’t count those.
On the other hand, Lewis was not eliminated and the UMW is still the dominant mine union today.
So, the Communists obtained 2 out of 3 of their long-term, national demands related to the coal industry, although, one of them since slipped away.
V: Colonies and Imperialist War
- Abolish the imperialist army and navy.
- Stop fighting against the revolutions in China and Nicaraugua.
- Withdraw from Latin America and the Pacific.
- Independence for American colonies.
- Hands off Mexico.
- Withdraw from puppet government in Latin America.
- Abandon extra-territoriality privileges in the Third World.
- End current military, set up democratic military.
- Withdraw from the imperialist peace treaties, the world court, the League of Nations, and cancel war debt.
Here the communists did not get their desires. The army still exists and isn’t democratic. The US is in the UN and world court and still has imperialist peace treaties. The US still has extraterritorial jurisdiction throughout the world. The war debts have not been cancelled.
On the other hand they have stopped interfering in China and Nicaragua. They mostly leave Mexico alone; puppet governments in Latin America is debatable.
Puerto Rico is still colonized, although most other colonies have been freed but still heavily influenced. So, maybe a half for this one.
So, the Communist got only 2.5 out of 10 here, and the two they did get were local ones were they started interfering in the ME instead. Replace Mexico, China, and Nicaragua with Pakistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan and the Communists get 0.5 out of 10.
VI: Defence of the Soviet Union
The USSR collapsed; so we’ll just say the communists failed totally here. All four demands were not met, but this was related to the failings of the USSR, rather than the US, so we’ll just leave these out of the calculations.
VII: Capitalist Democracy and the Government Strike-Breaker
- Abrogation of government by injunction.
- Prohibition of federal troops in labour struggles.
- Unrestricted right to strike. Unrestricted right to free press, free assemblage, and free speech for the working class.
- Abolition of the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the President’s veto.
- Elected judges; free legal aid.
- Franchise for youths 18-21 and negroes.
- Abolish anti-syndicalist laws and the Espionage Act.
- Repeal industrial court laws.
- Abolition of secret anti-labour organizations.
- Abolition of media censorship.
- Immediate release of all political prisoners.
The government by injunction mostly ended and military and quasi-military organizations no longer intervene in labour struggles. The right to strike is generally unrestricted (except a few key industries), the working class retains free press, speech, and assemblage (at least if they’re left-wing), and the media is almost entirely uncensored these days.. 18-year-olds and negroes have the vote. This biased article from Wikipedia seems to indicate secret anti-labour organizations is mostly a thing of the past.
I can’t find much on industrial courts, other than the Kansas courts which are gone. I guess this is a win for the communist.
Union leaders don’t go to prison anymore, but Edward Snowden might be considered a political prisoner. Overall, we’ll ignore this as a product of its time.
On the other hand the Senate and Supreme Court remain and federal judges are still appointed (but there is free legal aid).
So, 7 and a half out of 10 demands were met relating to labour relations.
VIII: A Labour Party
- A labour party on all levels.
- Exclude businesses from the party and base it around unions.
- Join the workers party.
Hard to say. The Democratic Party and the unions are now so inseparable it can sometimes be hard to see where one begins and the other ends, but the Democrats play with big business a lot as well (as do the unions).
The third point is more a call to action than a demand.
Overall, let’s give the communists 1.5 out of 2 for this section.
IX: Social Legislation
- Old age and unemployment insurance.
- 40-hour, 5-day work-week forbidding overtime.
- Compulsory safety and sanitation rules.
- Effective labour inspection elected by the workers.
- Free health care for all.
The first three demands have all been met. There is labour inspection, but they are not elected, so that gets a half-point.
Free healthcare for all does not exist, but Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare go a long way to providing “free” care, so we’ll give that a half point as well.
So, a functional 4 out of 5 demands were met here.
X: Tariff and Taxation
- Abolition of indirect taxes.
- Exemption from taxes for wage earners.
- Exemption from taxes for farmers.
- Graduated income taxes with full confiscation of incomes above $25k.
- Abolish exemptions for bonds, stocks, and securities.
- Graduated inheretance taxes.
- Tariffs on working class necessities abolished.
Tariffs have almost entirely disappeared, so the last demand is met. The most hated indirect tax, the tariff, was mostly eliminated, but other forms of indirect taxation abound, so we’ll give the first a half-point. A graduated income tax exists, but there’s no full confiscation, so another half-point.
The bottom 2 quintiles have effective negative income tax rates, but pay payroll taxes so we’ll give that one a half-point. Farmers have a lot of tax benefits but not full exemption, so we’ll give that a half-point as well.
In tax policy, the communists had 5 out of 7 demands met.
XI: Plight of the Farmers
- Five-year moratorium on farm debt.
- Protection from monopoly prices on farming supplies.
- Protection from special explotation by various farming related industries (like railroads).
- $1 Billion farm relief fund.
- Federal law against enforced farm foreclosures.
- Abolition of taxes on farmers.
- The land belongs to its users.
- Freedom for agricultural workers to strike and various benefits.
The first will be ignored as it was a temporary demand, as will the land belongs to users as is not really a demand.
The trusts have been beaten. Some people think Monsanto is a monopoly, but they aren’t really a monopoly in the traditional sense. We’ll say the communists got that one, but with the Monsanto caveat.
Other than the occasional, half-hearted, ritualized complaint about the railroads (Joke: A Saskatchewan farmer walks outside on the first day of harvest to see that it hailed overnight, destroying half his crops. He looks towards the heavens, raises his fist, and yells aloud, “Damn you, CN“), I haven’t seen any complaints about the special exploitation, so we’ll say the demand was met.
The US farm bill totals $500 Billion, although, most of that is food stamps, so I guess the farmers for their relief.
Banks can still foreclose on farms and farmers still pay taxes, so those are two demands not met.
Agricultural workers do have the right to strike.
So, the communists had 4 out of 6 demands met (with the Monsanto caveat).
XII: Oppression of the Negroes
- Full racial, social, and political equality for Negroes.
- Abolition of segregation.
- Abolition of disenfranchisement laws.
- Abolition of laws preventing negro schooling.
- Allow Negroes full access to restaurants and related facilities.
- Ban lynching.
- End discrimination of Negroes in the courts.
- Abolish convict lease system and chain gang.
- Abolish Jim Crow in federal employment.
- Remove Trade Union restrictions on Negroes.
- Equal opportunity and equal pay for equal work for Negroes.
Obviously, all of these have been met, with the minor exception of chain gangs which were revived in Arizona.
So, all 11 demands related to Negroes were met.
XIII: Foreign-born Workers
- Abolish all laws discriminating against foreign-born workers.
- Workers must unite with foreign-born workers.
- Immediate repeal of immigration laws.
- Equal pay for equal work for the foreign born.
The second demand is more a call to action than an actual policy demand.
The first and third demand were all met for foreign-born workers that are naturalized, but not for illegal immigrants.
The third was not met, but with the quasi-official acceptance of illegal Mexican immigrants, they might as well have.
We’ll say that the communist got 1.5 out of 3 demands met.
XIV: Working Women
- Eliminate night, overtime, and job work for women.
- Paid maternity leave during pregnancy.
- Paid maternity leave during nursing.
- Organize women into unions and eliminate discrimination against women in unions.
- Equal pay for equal work.
Night, overtime, and job work haven’t been eliminated, but there are restrictions and they are optional, so we’ll say that demand was half met.
Mothers have 12 weeks unpaid maternity leave, so maybe 0.5 out of 2 for the two demands.
Women are not free to join unions and aren’t discriminated against, so that’s another demand met.
Despite the false claims of feminists, women do get equal pay for equal work (equal work is key here). So that’s another demand met.
So, the equivalent of 3 out of 5 demands met.
XV: Youth, Child Labour, and Education
- Abolish child labour.
- $20 minimum wage for young workers.
- Establish work-schools in factories.
- Use schools as feeding centres for the unemployed.
- Right to vote for everyone over 18.
- Schools must be free, more schools built, free of religious or jingoistic instruction, free of Jim Crow, and allow teachers to organize.
Child labour was abolished, 18-year-olds can vote, and there are nutrition programs in schools, so that’s 3 demands.
Out of the five demands in one, schooling is free (except university, more schools have been built (but probably not as many as they’d like as people still complain of over-crowding), there is no religious instruction and jingoistic instruction is almost gone, there is no Jim Crow, and teachers can unionize.
So, the first two get a half point, while the others get a full one.
I don’t think work-schools have been established, but there are apprenticeship programs, so we’ll say that’s half-met.
In total, 7.5 out of 10 demands have been met.
- Municipal fixing of low rents for workers.
- Municipal housing for workers without profit.
- State laws against immediate eviction.
- Compulsory repair of working-class homes by landlords.
- Shelters for the unemployed.
- Municipal aid to workers’ building cooperatives.
These are all local, but most large municipalities have rent control, subsidized housing, tenant regulations. and homeless shelters.
I have no idea about the last point, but I have heard of no such thing, so we’ll say the demand wasn’t met.
So, 5 out of 6 demands met in housing.
- Repeal prohibition.
- End local and state prohibition.
- Energetic propaganda against alcoholism.
All 3 of these demands were met.
In conclusion, of the CPUSA’s 1928 platform, 66 out of 94 demands were met, or about 70% of demands. In relation to foreign relations through, 0/10 were met.
So, if we only look at domestic demands, that’s 65.5 out of 84 demands met, or 78% of demands.
Of those demands most desired by communists (ie. 40-hour, 5-day week and social programs), which were mentioned multiple times, they were all met.
Given that almost 80% of communist demands for the US were met and a number of those not met are on their way to being met (ex: paid maternity leave), we can say that the US is a communist country, in the vein of American communism.
I don’t have time to analyze the Democratic and Republican platform demands of the same year at this time, but I would bet significant sums that less than 80% of their demands were met and upheld by our present time.
Note that many European countries would have met even more of these demands, and would be even more communist than communist America.
The USA is a communist country, of that there can be no doubt.
* There are no demands in sections I or XVIII.
A few pieces have been edited (20/10/2013): Thanks to Michael Anissismov for pointing out the errors for correction.