Michael Totten

Name-Brand Socialism

Socialism is dead.
Really.
Oh, sure, its rotting corpse hasn’t fallen over yet in Cuba. ¡Socialismo o muerte! is still Fidel Castro’s bumper sticker after all these years. It’s as old as the cars in Havana. Someone should tell Fidel: Socialismo es muerte.
Spaniards just elected a socialist prime minister. Except they didn’t. So sayeth Chris Suellentrop in Slate.

[I]t says something about the state of small-“s” socialism—in addition to the state of the world—that conservatives are attacking Zapatero for his response to terrorism, not his attitude toward capitalism.
Granted, the war in Iraq and the war against al-Qaida are the whole reason the world has been watching Spain so closely for the past week. But there’s another reason for the conservative silence about Zapatero’s economics: The socialist debate over what to do about capitalism—and the proletariat, and the theory of surplus value, and the ownership of the means of production—is largely over in Europe. If the old libel against American liberals is that they’re socialists, the new European libel against socialists is that they’re liberals—classical ones. Here are some of the economic promises on which Zapatero’s Socialist Workers Party campaigned: lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 30 percent, cutting income taxes, and reducing the value-added tax. Oh, and they’re going to balance the budget and control inflation. The man expected to be the Socialist finance minister, Miguel Sebastian, is a U.S.-educated economist with a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. He’s promising to put his faith in the Invisible Hand. “There will be a strict separation between politics and business,” he told the Financial Times. “We will be a market-friendly government.” These are socialists?

Nope. They aren’t socialists. They just kept the brand name.