Capitalism Won the Battle, not the War:
When the USSR crumbled, capitalists crowed that communism had been conquered. Entrepreneurs believed they would liberate the globe. Those proclamations were premature. Communism never perished, it evolved. Today it’s fake communism. For capitalism to prosper, it must devolve—into fake capitalism.
Coinciding with the USSR’s collapse, rising nationalism splintered Yugoslavia. Ethnic cleansing followed. Hundreds of thousands of refugees descended upon Europe. As previous USSR satellites sought security, NATO stretched eastward. It virtually doubled the number of its member nations. The large swaths of territory gobbled up by western democracies poured salt on the wounds of the former communist power. Utilizing free-market principles within a state-controlled environment, Vladimir Putin stabilized the Russian economy. Empowered, Putin sought to invigorate Russian pride by seizing former communist lands. Russian troops conquered parts of Georgia, then took Crimea. Russia also occupied territories in Moldova and eastern Ukraine.
The Arab Spring spurred a second wave of immigration to Europe. This influx of migrants, much larger than the first, came on the heels of debilitating recession. As free-market economies teetered, several countries enacted austerity policies. The belt-tightening exacerbated social suffering. Stagnant economies followed. The result? Rising nationalism spread across Europe. Recognizing its destructiveness, candidate Donald Trump stoked similar prejudices in order to win the United States Presidency. His “us versus them” mentality continues today. What plagued the USSR in the late 1980’s and helped lead to its demise now infects western democracies. The twist of fate couldn’t please Putin more.
Meanwhile, following Russia’s footsteps, communist China also selectively employed capitalistic principles. The tactic awakened the behemoth nation.
Renowned historian and author Timothy Snyder suggests that past super powers Great Britain, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, France, Italy and Portugal were empires, not nation states. As their kingdoms collapsed, the integration of Europe began. Collectively, they disregarded lost distant wars and instead focused on WWII. Each country looked inward, falsely believing it had a long, proud history as a nation state. When Eastern European countries such as Poland, Hungary and the Baltic states emerged from communist control, they too fell for the romanticized narrative of historical sovereignty. They believed acceptance into NATO and the EU would grant them autonomy. Ironically, UK citizens favoring Brexit believe that NATO and EU expansion has diluted their freedom, that separation will reestablish their self-determination and strengthen their nation state. Whether pro- or anti-integration, large numbers across Europe believe others have robbed them of their identities.
Like many Europeans, millions of Americans, especially conservatives, believe migrants have cheated the system, and in the process, destroyed social and religious norms. As in Europe, this is fake nationalism. Remarkably, it is fake capitalism that can end this misapprehension. To ease the misery of income disparity and relieve the economic despair that has spurred the rise of fake nationalism, the United States needs to go back to the period when America was great—when traditions of all cultures were encouraged, and fake capitalism ruled.
Birth of Fake Communism
When the Soviet Union disintegrated, Russia privatized numerous industries, but the most vital sectors--banking, energy, transportation and defense remained centrally planned. Furthermore, Russia has weak property rights. Its private sector is constantly harassed by government while top officials’ control an inordinate concentration of wealth. The idea of Russia being a free-market economy is a myth. It’s a statist country. Russia is ruled by fake communism.
Despite employing policies like Russia's, China is considered a communist nation. But upon closer inspection, China also resembles America during the nostalgic period of the 1940’s to the 1960’s—when America was considered great. Fake communism rules China.
History of Fake Capitalism
During the Great Depression, the United States government enacted the WPA. In eight years, the controversial Works Projects Act employed more than 8.5 million workers. Buildings, roads, bridges, dams and ports were built. But the WPA reached far beyond infrastructure projects. In Sounds of the New Deal; The Federal Music Project in the West, Peter Gough, a professor at California State University, Sacramento, elegantly details the social and economic significance of the Federal Music Project (FMP).
In the midst of depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and First Lady Eleanor believed that the erosion of spirit was as dangerous as the erosion of soil—and that music was a great tonic for what ailed the world. While some program leaders sought to bring “good, sophisticated music” to enlighten the public and bring the nation together, the Roosevelt’s were not interested in what constituted good music. They understood that relative to the rest of the world, America’s tolerance of ethnic, cultural and regional differences was supreme. The question became not “what is good music,” but “what is music good for?"
As a result, the FMP encouraged musicians to be proud of their cultures and embrace their community’s musical heritages. It was these FMP philosophies that gave rise to folk music, enabled swing music to prosper and supported the underpinning of jazz, a musical form derided in Germany and other European countries as “Negro Noise” intended “to introduce obscenities into society.” The FMP satisfied unemployed men in camps with hillbilly music, kept kids off the streets and out of alleys and provided classes for children with special needs. Additionally, at performances sponsored by the FMP, it became routine for social elites to rub elbows with common men, enabling all to learn a little more about democracy. Fortuitously, the federal government supported more than music. Other bodies within the WPA promoted literature, theatre, art, drama, and media; providing millions a sense of dignity and self-worth—and a chance to eat.
In retrospect, the WPA became the blueprint for government activities. Over the next two decades, the Manhattan Project, the Marshall Plan, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, and NASA were launched. These endeavors propelled American exceptionalism. All were centrally planned, financed and executed. Yet, in America today, government oversight is scorned. On the other hand, China seeks to maximize the public-private business relationship. Their tactics have allowed them to aggressively expand military operations, make massive worldwide direct investments, execute their One Belt One Road project and continue to fund extraordinary space exploration. Just as America did when America was considered great, China seeks to reap the rewards of fake capitalism.
The Collateralized Right-Wing Fringe’s Agenda
To Putin’s credit, he’s employed many free market principles to resurrect Russia from the abyss. Yet his authoritarian rule has stifled Russia. At $27,900, its GDP per capita (PPP) ranks 72nd in the world. Below the world’s average, China’s GDP per capita of $17,000 is ranked 106th. While each has employed capitalistic principles, both will continue to err on the side of fake communism. This offers an advantage to America and other western democracies.
That edge vanishes, however, if America succumbs to Trump's and the Collateralized Right Wing Fringe’s (CRWF) agenda. In a race to the bottom, countless other countries will be forced to follow the ideology of freewheeling markets, nationalism, theocracy and tariffs. The consequences will be cataclysmic. To save itself and possibly the world, the USA must move to the middle and employ the best attributes of all systems—and eliminate as many negative features of all systems as possible.
America must adopt a form of Medicare for all by offering a public option. Reformation of the corrupt medical system will mitigate the unbearable consequences of disproportionate income disparity. If not, the country’s One Trillion Dollar Healthcare Toll will overwhelm an already stressed middle-class and trigger an economic collapse. Instead of constantly rehabbing antiquated infrastructure, it’s time to look one generation ahead and Let Roads and Bridges Crumble. Additionally, America must foster cultural and religious diversity—instead of demonizing it. Finally, America needs to reembrace the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal. Defying those agreements has only led to greater isolation—and more trade busting tariffs.
To help make the world great, America must revisit the policies which shaped the era when America was great. America must embrace the public-private partnership. America must become a fake capitalist society.