Thursday, January 20, 2011

Prediction: In 20 Years, the U.S. is Communist

It's impossible to accurately predict major long-term societal trends because so many things affecting trends are unanticipatable.

For example, who in 1975, would have anticipated Google or the iPhone?

But if I had to bet, I'd wager that, not withstanding the Republican win in 2010, the U.S. will, within 20 years, have moved dramatically toward communism. The arguments:
  • The gap between rich and poor is very large and expanding. Many from the middle-class are becoming poor. That large and growing group's anger will continue to grow as the gap increases.
  • Many among the rich are privately growing more uncomfortable with the wealth disparity. Even many corporate employees are caring less and less about meeting corporate goals, caring mainly about holding onto their job. That's not the basis for a sustainable means of production.
  • Especially as corporations offer ever less job security, choosing to part-time, temp, and offshore ever more positions, fewer college graduates seek to climb the corporate ladder, preferring to work for a nonprofit or the government, or starting a small business.
  • Society's main mind molders--the schools, colleges, and media--are ever bolder in their move from neutral reporter to leftist advocate. For example, courses, TV news, movies, and popular Internet political sites (e.g., Slate, Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Daily Beast) portray corporations as largely evil.
More subtly, those mind-molders have changed the vocabulary. For example, "neighborhood," which implies individualism, has been largely replaced by "community." Words like "individualism" and "competition" have been given a bad name while those like "connectedness" and "collaboration" have been deified.
  • Demographic trends augur a societal move leftward. For example, the U.S.'s decision to only minimally control immigration and its plans for "comprehensive immigration reform" will add many more leftist voters. Also, immigrants or not, the poor have the most babies, and the poor tend to vote leftist.
I'm not sure the move to communism is, net, a good thing, I only think it's likely to be true. What do you think?


Lightning Bug's Butt said...

I agree.

Socialism is an idea whose time has come to America.

I see capitalism as the Betamax VCR: it's a better product, but nobody's buying it.

Furthermore, Americans are obsessed with fairness to a fault. If somebody has more than someone else, then the system needs fixing.

And your point on demographics is dead on. Soon, the Republican party will need 110% of the white male vote. Impossible.

Brill Advisory Group said...

OK, If I accept this as truth, what options exist? Move to New Zealand, if doing so is even an option?

I love the guiding principals America was founded upon and I have no interest in becoming a communist.

Marty, Your posts always make me think. Thanks for the work you do!

Marty Nemko said...

Brill Advisory Group: My first intuition is: "Roll with it." America has many things in its favor and perhaps Communism in this country will--especially with lessons learned from the failures in the Soviet Union--will be more successful here. But believe me, I'm not at all sure. It is certain that moving to another continent imposes difficulties that staying put doesn't.

soups said...

An America Lost in Squanderville.

The United States’ trade gap is the proverbial “leak-in the-dike” with its de-simulative effect on our recovery. In November 2003, Warren Buffett in his Fortune, Squanderville versus Thriftville article recommended that America adopt a balanced trade model. The fact that advice advocating balance and sustainability, from a sage the caliber of Warren Buffett, could be virtually ignored for over seven years is unfathomable. Media coverage that China has kept it currency undervalued is a gross understatement, it has actually been keeping the U.S. dollar over-valued; which adversely affects all U.S. trade with all U.S. trading partners, not just trade with China. Until action is taken on Buffett’s or a similar balanced trade model, by the powers that be, America will continue to squander time, treasure and talent in pursuit of an illusionary recovery.

Anonymous said...

No way, I actually see the libertarian movement gaining momentum, not the other way around. Communism would be a massive failure in this country. I think the worst case is we move toward a Sweden type of socialism (we are half way there already) with 50% tax rates, universal healthcare, massive social safety net, etc.

Being a libertarian I hope and pray you are wrong.

Anonymous said...

I have some questions and observations:

1. Every communist regime in history came about as a result of a civil war or revolution. In the chaos that ensues, the communists rose to power on promises of restoring stability. Do you foresee such a thing happening in the US as well?

2. The former Soviet Union had a policy of morally and materially supporting communist movements around the world. Where would our support come from?

3. Communism can be both political and economic. Economic communism has failed spectacularly because it is tragically inefficient at the most basic functions of any economy: providing incentives for production and allocating resources. Furthermore a "five year plan" cannot respond well to market changes. Political communism, on the other hand, is still going strong, and is even gaining credibility in many circles.

4. The most likely scenario I see is a repeat of the New Deal, which was quite adherent to the textbook definition of communism. There is enough historical precedent to make such a scenario credible.

5. Finally, the Soviet Union ultimately collapsed because of a resurgence of ethnic nationalism among ethnic minorities in its constituent republics (Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Armenians, Kazakhstanis, Uzbekistanis, etc.)

One of the Soviet Union's main conceits and a central theme of their propaganda was that more than 100 different ethnic groups lived in unity and harmony because they considered themselves proletarians and Soviet citizens first and foremost. In fact, communism was touted as an antidote to the extreme nationalism of, say, 1930s Germany, and conflict between ethnic subcultures was fomented by the bourgeous to distract the proletariat from their oppression.

As it turned out, the Soviet Union allowed cultural pluralism to placate these groups but sought cultural assimilation to the dominant Russian culture and language. Example: Uzbekistanis who wanted to practice medicine or law had to take their medical/bar exams in Russian, even if they were working in Uzbek-speaking areas only.

We have only five distinct ethnic groups (black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American), and all except most whites strongly self-identify by that ethnicity. It's doubtful that they'd find commonality as proletarians.

Your thoughts?

Marty Nemko said...

Most recent Anonymous, here are my quick reactions to each item in your comment. Do know, however, I am NOT at all an expert in these areas. These are mere guesses. Treat them as such:

1. I do not believe a revolution will be required to move the US well toward communism, just as formerly white-dominated America is moving toward becoming Latino America without a shot being fired.

2. I believe most countries have large numbers of people who, privately, would welcome any nation's move leftward. I believe the media, colleges, unions, and just plain citizens in many countries would rise in support of the U.S.'s moves toward communism. It might even reduce the Muslim world's enmity to the U.S.

3. Yes, incentives count, and nothing can fully replace its motivating effect. But I believe that smarter use of non-cash motivators (e.g., praise, criticism, sophisticated education efforts, and even public shaming for laziness) would yield sufficient motivation to make the lack of cash incentives not doom that new version of communism adopted in the U.S.

I agree that especially in our ever faster-changing economy, a five-year plan would not work. But perhaps a constantly updated one would work well enough so that the net benefits to society of communism would not be outweighed by the difficulty of accurately planning an economy.

4. A New Deal Squared indeed is possible--in other words, heavily socialist but not communist. I'm guessing it's equally possible that the U.S. will get even more extreme; that is, redistribute ever more of the means of production to the government.

5. No economic or political system is immune to the effects of ethnic strife. That is an issue. I believe it's wisest for society to discourage ethnocentrism, celebrating of diversity, but rather to encourage all people to assimilate to a society that aspires to universally wise goals, for example, creating the greatest good for the greatest number as long as horrific injustices aren't required to do so.

Jason said...

First of all, communism is not a system of government, it was and is an unreachable idea (and a bad idea as well) of a classless and stateless society where production and distribution are met by free association and need. There have only been isolated communist community tests done by the Soviets but they quickly found out human nature prevails and no one wants to work without their self-interest in mind. America vilified the word in the 1950's and we continue to use it as a pejorative against anything that disagrees with our political views disregarding its definition just as you've done with this post Marty.

We need to keep in mind there is no pure political-economic system in the world. All governments are to some degree of a hybrid of capitalism, socialism, etc. All systems in their purest sense can run amok, thus successful blending and balance of systems are done by successful nations. Perhaps we are in a transition point of how we are blending and balancing, but rest assured, America is not turning "communist".

Anonymous said...

The 1950's invasion of The Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. a cold war metaphore for a ideological communist transformation is now more than a domestic movie metaphore. Instead of pods doing us in, its the public schools and dollars falling into them from from D.C. and students falling asleep during indoctrination class, waking up communists. I'm running to the freeway to stop traffic and make them listen! "Please stop! You've got to listen! I'm NOT CRAZY. I'M NOT! Won't someone please listen! You've got to listen! Please, you must..."

Marty Nemko said...

Jason, I never said that communism is a system of government. It is a philosophy and an economic system, that has political implications.

Jason said...

Marty, by choosing the word 'communism' you are leveraging its negative implications to boost your argument regardless of the actual social and political conditions. Pair that with the sickle and cross and you can always get people riled up.

Too many people use the word 'communism' interchangeably with socialism but they are not the same thing nor did they originate from the same philosophers.

I trust you understand the history and academic distinctions that I'm referring to, however the tone of your post strikes me as yet another inflammatory piece, not an insight. America is changing, it has always changed, and must continue to change and adapt to a changing world. But saying we are changing into communists is going over the top.

Marty Nemko said...

Jason, we must agree to disagree. I'm factual and if someone takes it or an official symbol to excess, that's not my problem. Better to be accurate.

Dan said...

I don't see a move to a poor, tired Communist model; it's a too simple (and bleak) downward spiral that doesn't take into account the unpredictable "future." I hope our form of capitalism shifts to a system that is more restrained and sustainable. We'll be happier for it.

Robert said...

Some (not necessarily I) would argue that the U.S.A. has been de facto communist ever since the massive government intervention in the economy that marked the New Deal!

That said, from my personal experience I don't think America is at all likely to be much more communist than it is now. Especially compared with other parts of the English-speaking world.

I lived in Australia for decades, I lived in Britain for two years, and I know New Zealand quite well as a visitor. As a result, I still reckon that those other countries are much further advanced down the road to communism than America is, even though wealth disparities there are probably less than they are in the States. It's absolutely impossible to imagine an Australian, N.Z., or British version of the Tea Party, for example. Or Ron Paul. Or even Sarah Palin.

R. J. Stove said...

Perhaps the following remark from American-born, Mexican-based columnist (and former Marine) Fred Reed, published in The American Conservative on July 28, 2008, is relevant to the question of whether / when America descends into communism:

"The ... question is whether people really care about freedom. I think not, though we tell ourselves that we do. The majority care about prosperity and comfort - a nice house, tolerable job, consumerism's trinkets, beer, sex, 500 channels on the cable, and a couple of weeks a year at Disneyland. ... The abolition by disregard of the Constitution? An abstraction that doesn't register. I'll guess that 95 per cent of the population have never heard of habeas corpus."

Marlo said...

I don't see the U.S. ever moving toward Communism or Socialism. For one, most Americans are accustomed to having some degree of individual liberty, which doesn't mesh well with Socialism's underlying principles of community, connectedness and so on. I honestly believe that most U.S. citizens, regardless of their purported political leanings, would fight to the death before seeing their private property seized and their businesses nationalized.
It would be difficult even to implement a Swedish-style Social Democracy in the U.S., if only because it's so racially diverse. People in racially or ethnically divided countries tend to think in terms of what's beneficial to their own group, and care not for the welfare of others, and are usually quite hostile to the idea that their tax dollars might go toward racial or ethnic rivals. Scapegoating of "the bourgeious" is not a common occurance in the U.S.; scapegoating along racial lines is.
In typical lefty fashion I view Sweden as a model country, but I realize it only works because it's very homogenous and allows only a small number of immigrants in--usually spouses of citizens or University researchers.I suppose, in a way, America is already a Social Democracy of sorts--all developed nations have to be, to some extent...but I don't see us ever becoming Communists.

Anonymous said...

No way. The closest we ever came was in the 1932 elections when over a million people voted for a Socialist candidate and a few hundred thousand voted for a Communist candidate. Luckily, neither was elected!

If our economic condition continues to deteriorate, I believe we will have a civil war between the white majority and the others. I predict in that scenario there would be a "corn pone" Hitler who will strike out at gays, illegal immigrants, and blacks or some "other".

Marty, if you would leave your bubble in Northern California and visit Texas and the Southeastern US, you would see things much differently.

Jacked Up said...

I think we are more likely to become another latin america with a microscopic percentage of the country holding virtually all the wealth. I disagree that those with the money are becoming uncomfortable.

The middle class is somewhat powerless since it has virtually no influence in Washington.

Marty Nemko said...


You indeed may well be right. Living in the Bay Area, Republicans are so rare, if they found someone who admitted to being one, they'd put him in a zoo--both as a curiosity and to cage the "fascist pig."

Anonymous said...

Just remarkable.

By the incredibly slack definition of communism in play here, it would be fair to castigate Theodore Roosevelt as a Communist - probably moreso even than FDR.

Here's the thinking: FDR inherited a collapsed economy, at home and abroad. He instituted a broad range of government support, most of which was eventually withdrawn. The glaring exception being the single best example of make-work welfare in the US, and the one which is never addressed frontally by conservatives: military spending and weapons stockpiling.

Theodore Roosevelt, by contrast, came into office with an economy in much better shape, but also with the Vanderbuilts, the Pierpoints, the Rockefellers and the other early gazillionaires running the economic table, aided by agreements between their businesses.

Teddy declared those secret agreements illegal trusts, and made what had been legal practice illegal. He also laid the groundwork for the income tax.

Now, is it worth a step back at the level of history we're considering if - by standards our host seems to agree with - we can place Teddy Roosevelt far to the left of FDR?

Max Marty said...

Hey Marty. I generally agree with your notion that we're moving leftward, with all the lovely economic stagnation that will come with it.

However on your point on immigration, I see immigration as actually reducing native support for the welfare state. Essentially because if you let in more immigrants, natives will feel like they're getting ripped off by the welfare state.

If you look at big welfare states, such as the Scandinavian countries, they're quite ethnically homogeneous. Some make the argument that we've historically had a smaller welfare state 'because' we have historically had a population of immigrants and people don't like redistributive programs that redistribute to people who don't think or look like them.

I heard this argument from Bryan Caplan's talk on immigration over at Econtalk.

Marty Nemko said...

Max Marty.

The reason I believe the U.S. will roll over re illegals is because society's mindmolders--the schools, colleges, and media, have brainwashed us into believing in the fairness of redistribution especially to people of color because of our past and current racism.

Doug S. said...

And redistribution (to, say, the wealth or income distribution in current Sweden) is bad because?

Doug S. said...

This might be somewhat off-topic, but you've mentioned the lack of success of Latin American countries as a reason why uncontrolled immigration is a problem, saying, and I quote, "At no time in the last 1,000 years, has even one Latin American country provided their citizens with a standard of living even close to that of European countries."

Prior to the Great Depression, Argentina was one of the ten richest countries in the world. And since then, plenty of European countries have managed to get themselves screwed up as well. The region that once made up the country Yugoslavia turned into a disaster, and many of the other countries that were Communist also did very badly when compared to Western Europe.

Also, people in the U.S. illegally are not more likely to commit crimes than native-born U.S. citizens.

Marty Nemko said...

Because--beyond a basic humane safety net, the additional money redistributed from those with the greatest potential to improve the world to those with the least is, in my judgment not a wise decision.

Marty Nemko said...

Doug, it's really reaching to argue that because one country, Argentina, at one point in time (when it, I believe had large numbers of Europeans in its population) did okay, that Latin America offers us reason for optimism that the Latinization of America bodes well for its future.

And re crime, that study covered both legal and illegal immigrants. This review of multiple studies looks at illegals and concludes that indeed--consistent with logic--that illegals do have a high crime rate.

Anonymous said...

Dressing up the usillegalaliens blog post as a 'review of multiple studies' is a nice rhetorical move, but that post cites zero studies. The only thing it arguably cites is testimony by a politician, and the link to that citation is broken. It goes on to recite, without source, a mix of claims which - even if true - conflate lots of things.

One example is the discussion of drugs brought across the border. The value of those drugs doesn't tie well to immigrants, let alone illegal immigrants. Lots of drugs are brought across the border by US citizens, and lots of drugs are brought across the border by folks who don't have any interest in staying - the transport is a business trip.

The reuters piece indicates that the authors did try to look at an indirect measure of crime rates by illegal immigrants:

"non-citizen men from Mexico 18 to 40 -- a group disproportionately likely to have entered the United States illegally -- are more than eight times less likely than U.S.-born men in the same age group to be in a correctional institution (0.48 percent vs. 4.2 percent"

Marty Nemko said...


Candidly, I just don't have the time to do thorough literature reviews to comment on commenters to my blog. I had read, in multiple sources, that crime among illegals is high, and that, of course, comports with the logic that someone who'd be willing to violate U.S. immigration laws to sneak into the country, and a group that on average has low education and disproportionately young, will have a high crime rate. So, I simply googled "Crime, illegal immigrants" saw that review and posted it. It certainly does contain data points worth considering against the commenter's. An additional Google search this morning revealed this more thorough examination of the issue. It points out that it 's very difficult to ascertain the amount of crime committed by illegals because activist groups have successfully convinced legislators to pass laws making it difficult to find out if a perpetrator is here legally!

Doug S. said...

I think the U.S. currently falls short of actually having a "basic, humane safety net".

Anonymous said...


I am dismayed by this article and some of your responses.

At times, you acknowledge causes but incorrectly apply them to effects. Other times, you don't seem to have enough context and miss causes or forget previous articles you've written. And if your forecast becomes true, all those who support it will have many regrets.

Unfortunately, U.S. centralized planning continues to increase, bureaucracy increases and more demands for social welfare and handouts from the public. What theories will be used to blame future failures when the economy is even further dominated by state control and cronyism?

Marxists and socialist of all flavors feel that socialism is the next step beyond capitalism but the ideas must be forced these ideas on the majority (and force can come in the form of handouts). They can never explain socialism's spectacular failures, ongoing failures and why it never works or why they try to blend capitalism into failing economies to help them limp along - they just come up with new theories and then waste more tax dollars to chase new pipe dreams. Yet, somehow, one of your comments seems to think that maybe this time Communists will get things right - always the pipe dream.

Even worse, at the extremes, socialists feel they need to eliminate the "trash" (Marx referred to the Highlanders, etc, as racial trash) because the "trash" simply is too far behind. Nowadays, many socialists, though, just give out handouts to those they arrogantly consider "ignorant," but certainly would never distribute authority except to bully others to stay in line.

I've even stayed for long periods of time in socialist countries, such as Sweeden, France and socialist dominated Portugal, to experience life. Once a person gets away from core tourist areas where the government wants to pull in revenues, life is not so good for many people. If those countries didn't have any type of looser market trade, I could only imagine how miserable conditions could become.

Further, my family's previous generations managed to leave Socialist countries after existing in misery. With centralized control comes cronyism, massive inefficiencies and shortages, mercantilism and many, many more problems than simply complaining about having to work harder to be successful.

Marty Nemko said...

I don't know what you're inferring from my writing here but in sum, my sense is that capitalism with a MODEST safety net for the poor is the wisest path.

Anonymous said...

I'm referring to blogs where you lean left and right, abused terms from the French Revolution and terms that confuse most people, today.

This article does not slant toward an economic ideology but you don't exactly state your position, either. The posting just seems to sit on the fence and some of your comments, such as "...perhaps Communism in this country...will be more successful..." seem to dodge any kind of stance but leave the reader to doubt your neutrality.

A safety net would be nice, but when it's controlled by government agencies it becomes a tool for abuse and voter manipulation - and it has. There are plenty of great private charity endeavors throughout history and they have operated more efficiently.

I have read in your posts you are Utilitarian (or were). Unfortunately, the various forms are always posing the question what is best for mankind and what provides maximum utility. So who is to decide what is best? A select group of Utilitarians? Is it a democratic vote? And what if that vote really hurts another group of people? Is the word "mankind" even a physical entity or is it simply a straw man for a governing central body?

Unfortunately, when having to decide how Utilitarian ethics are implemented, it leans into becoming a central group of decision makers deciding what is best for everyone.

If you mean to state that each individual knows what is best for themselves(preference), than you should read Rothbard's "Man, Economy and State".

Marty Nemko said...

I do think that there are universals that can be agreed on without a major centralized government or star chamber: for example, that we pursue actions that yield decrease in cancer or increased opportunity for our best and brightest without too great a set of opportunity costs.