Little noticed by most Americans, Merriam Webster, one of the world’s most important dictionaries, announced a few months ago that the two most looked-up words in 2012 were “socialism” and “capitalism.”
Traffic for the pair on the company’s website roughly doubled from the year before. The choice was a “kind of no-brainer,” observed editor at large, Peter Sokolowski. “They’re words that sort of encapsulate the zeitgeist.”
Leading polling organizations have found converging results among younger Americans. Two recent Rasmussen surveys, for instance, discovered that Americans younger than 30 are almost equally divided as to whether capitalism or socialism is preferable. Another Pew survey found those aged 18 to 29 have a more favorable reaction to the term “socialism” by a margin of 49 to 43 percent.
Note carefully: These are the people who will inevitably be creating the next American politics and the next American system.
As economic failure continues to create massive social and economic pain and a stalemated Washington dickers, search for some alternative to the current “system” is likely to continue to grow. It is clearly time to get serious about a different vision for the future. Critically, we need to be far more sophisticated about what a meaningful “systemic design” that might undergird a new direction (whether called “socialism” or whatever) would entail.
From the editor’s introduction to the April 2013 issue (http://monthlyreview.org/2013/04/01):
One of the most notable left intellectuals in the United States is Gar Alperovitz, professor of political economy at the University of Maryland. As an undergraduate Alperovitz studied at the University of Wisconsin under the great revisionist historian William Appleman Williams (a frequent contributor at the time to Monthly Review). He went on to pursue a PhD in economics at Cambridge University under Joan Robinson (also an MR contributor). Alperovitz’s doctoral dissertation, which was eventually published as the book Atomic Diplomacy, constituted a revisionist historical account of the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He demonstrated that Truman’s decision to use the bomb on civilian populations was opposed by U.S. military leaders—and was not so much the last act in the Second World War as the first act in the Cold War. (Truman’s objective in dropping the bomb was to force an immediate unconditional surrender—Japan had offered to surrender but the security of the emperor remained a sticking point—in order to preempt the further advance of Soviet troops into Asia and the expansion of the Soviet sphere of influence.) Alperovitz’s latest initiative is represented by his brand new book,What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution. He describes the systemic crisis in which the United States is trapped as one of “punctuated stagnation”: The nature of our current economic predicament, he writes, “is not [one of] collapse, but rather an odd form of painful stagnation—the hallmark of which is economic decay, with occasional significant downturns and (at best) modest and temporary upticks around a sickening, uncertain and debilitating norm” (126). [...] We strongly agree with Alperovitz that a “punctuated stagnation,” in the sense he has described it, is the most accurate reading of contemporary economic reality and sets the stage for what could be “the next American revolution.” His book can be obtained from Chelsea Green Publishing at http://chelseagreen.com.
Welcome to the spring of sequester and discontent. Just ahead, whatever happens in the world of politics, a world of people are going to experience yet more cuts to education, housing, healthcare, and there’s no solution to poverty in sight. Even for those who were flushed with excitement last November, the new term is already feeling like a pretty glum place. What real change is likely to come? Probably not much. By how much are real wages going to grow? Probably less. ”If you counted poverty the way every other nation in the world counts it, a quarter of our society is in poverty,” says political economist Gar Alperovitz.
So why is it then, that Alperovitz also says we may be witnessing the prehistory of the next American Revolution? What’s up?
Alperovitz believes that the storm of failure we’re witnessing creates crisis but also possibility. When states and cities have “no answers,” new ideas and new experiences have a chance to insert themselves into the mix. Indeed, look a little deeper than the money media tend to, and the US economy is pretty heterodox. Far from one “economy” we live in a “checkerboard” of systems, some of which look a whole lot like socialism.
What’s “hotel socialism”? Find out in this conversation about Alperovitz’s latest book What Then Must We Do: Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution, which comes out later this month from Chelsea Green. Alperovitz teaches at the University of Maryland. We talked for GRITtv.
Laura Flanders: Am I describing this moment correctly? Post-election enthusiasm followed by gathering gloom?
Gar Alperovitz: I think that’s about right and rightly so. The president is committed to $1.5 trillion in cuts for the next decade and at the same time he is talking about boosting the economy. I suspect we’ll get very little change in the unemployment rate [that is] the real unemployment rate, which is probably 15% if you count the people who just don’t show up anymore.
More information about the film, including information on ordering and setting up screenings, at garalperovitz.com/nextamericanrevolution
Obamacare provision requires nonprofit hospitals reach out to the community, emphasizing link between poverty and poor health
This article was co-authored with David Zuckerman, and originally appeared in the Baltimore Sun.
Study after study demonstrates that poverty is a powerful driver of poor health. Many of America’s leading hospitals exist in poor communities. Could these powerful institutions (in economic as well as medical terms) help overcome the deeper sources of failing health among the 46 million Americans living in poverty?
A little-known provision of Obamacare provides an unexpected opening.
Section 9007 of the Affordable Care Act requires every nonprofit hospital to complete a Community Health Needs Assessment every three years to engage the local community on its general health problems and explain how the hospital intends to address them.
This means that nonprofit hospitals are no longer permitted to treat only those within their walls. They must now reach out to the community, especially its underserved populations.
Hospitals are major economic engines. Nationally, nonprofit hospitals alone had reported revenues of more than $650 billion and assets of $875 billion as of August 2012. If employed strategically, this powerful force could have a major impact on the health and well-being of people in poverty across the nation.
Several far-sighted institutions already offer a glimpse of what this can mean. University Hospitals and Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland — two leaders in the field — have decided that reducing health disparities requires such community-based economic strategies as bringing down high rates of unemployment, improving educational achievement, fostering community safety and building stronger social service networks. In 2007, these two hospitals and other community partners embarked on a comprehensive program to build community wealth.