Delusion of Opportunity
Karl Marx, the 19th-century German philosopher famously known for writing the Communist Manifesto, said shortly before his death: “I am not a Marxist.”
Countless theories have been written about why Marx would utter those words, and most have come to the same conclusion: He was horrified by the way his ideas were being warped. Because of that manipulation, which directly led to several dictatorial regimes, many Americans today view socialism as the antithesis of capitalism.
Socialism in the United States is viewed through the historical lens of Russians and other Eastern Europeans lining up for bread, begging for American items and paying hundreds of dollars for Jordache jeans. Today, the failed state of Venezuela provides our contemporary cautionary tale, proving to us why capitalism is the better economic system.
Except, it’s all a lie.
Socialism is already here, it has always been here, and it is here to stay. Medicaid, Social Security, workers' unions; none of that went away. It has just been vilified by the 1% in their attempt to weaken these institutions, so they can make us all scramble for the crumbs they leave us.
Communism and Marxism are two very different things. Americans have been taught they are one in the same. They are not, and the politicians know it. Socialism works. It works well in all other industrialized nations, where they offer free health care, education and grant their citizens a host of other opportunities that are not afforded to Americans.
First-world, industrialized nations pay for everyone to have a better existence through taxes. Why can’t we? In a nutshell, there has been a fairy-tale told to the American public that if you have a good work ethic, you too can achieve the dream. This myth gives no consideration to people’s circumstances. We have been taught there is a level playing field, whether you were born into wealth and privilege, like Ivanka Trump, or if you grew up with a single mother working two jobs to make ends meet.
Top-line federal income taxes on the ultra-wealthy in this country used to be as high as 92 percent in the early 1950s. Back then, the gap between rich and poor paled in comparison to what it is today.
Introduce the 80’s, throw Ronald Reagan's famous trickle-down economics theory into the mix, and you have a complete unraveling of the American dream for everyone. Taxes, taxes, taxes. Cut taxes for everyone, and by everyone they really meant the wealthy. The theory, they told us, was the rich will give back and everyone will prosper. We will all have jobs, mansions, dream vacations, luxury cars, more, more and more.
We can’t be bothered to drink water from the tap. No, we DEMAND and we DESERVE nothing less than Perrier with a lemon twist.
Karl Marx has to be crying or laughing. The rich, for the most part, did not give back. They took away jobs from Americans and gave them to cheaper labor markets overseas. They compensated us by delivering those goods at a lower cost and duped us into believing we were getting the better deal.
We got to buy faux designer clothes to emulate those in power, including knock-off purses, clothes and shoes to make us feel better and look like we belonged to the upper class. Distract us. We love a distraction. That two-week American vacation everyone used to take became our way of life, leading to the death of imagination, ingenuity and sense of community.
So we sit back and believe that one day we can all be Elon Musk, or at least that we are all one great idea away from being Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Jeff Bezos. Ask them. They will tell you it wasn’t just hard work. They had opportunity that is only afforded to the few, as well as time and practice to perfect their craft.
That’s it. Bill Gates said as much in Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers. But that’s okay with us. As long as we can idolize celebrity chefs by overpaying for fancy meals to make ourselves feel rich, we are literally swallowing the lie. As long as it is served with Perrier and side of delusion, we’re fine with it.