10 Days That Shook Faith in Capitalism
- By Joel Willett
- Oct. 21 2008 00:00
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In 1919, John Reed published his classic "Ten Days That Shook the World." It told the story of revolutionary Russia, when the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917. Those 10 days were supposed to spread the socialist revolution to the world, yet they were remarkable only for the oppression that followed.
Russia was bogged down in an unpopular war, and the people were starving for both food and land ownership. The Bolsheviks responded to Russia's economic and political problems with mixed policies of nationalization and privatization, firmly intent on turning the country into a socialist state.
Fast-forward 90 years to the United States, where it is facing a similar situation. It is bogged down in an unpopular war that costs $10 billion a month. Americans are crying for peace, and the country's economy is experiencing the worst crisis since the Great Depression.
One of the worst consequences of the multiple bubble bursts is the doubling in the number of home repossessions. In the state of Illinois, the police have decided to not proceed with further evictions because they consider the whole process "unfair." People who have faithfully paid their rent are losing their homes. Americans are hungry for land.
Moreover, global food prices are still a big concern. Though costs have recently subsided, fears remain that excessive government restrictions and involvement in countries with bountiful harvests will reverse the progress and prices will rise again.
Have things come full circle in 90 years? In the 20th century, capitalism flourished when socialism failed. Now it seems that the U.S. laissez-faire approach to capitalism is failing, and many continue to lose their jobs, savings and homes. There have been protests in New York. A popular U.S. journalist, Anderson Cooper, has gone so far as to identify 10 corporate executives who, in his opinion, are primarily responsible for U.S. woes. He showed their photographs so that Americans could see the scoundrels who did so much to bring the United States down to its knees. Are we really seeing the end of capitalism?
Peace. Land. Food. These cries led to nationalization in the Soviet Union. The policy failed miserably for the Bolsheviks and, much to John Reed's chagrin, the Bolshevik Revolution never shook the world.
The U.S. Treasury and European governments have adopted policies of partial nationalization. These socialist policies are poised to have a much deeper impact worldwide than Lenin could have ever imagined. It is clear that 10 days of October 2008 will be seen as the 10 days that truly shook the world.
Joel Willett is a graduate student at the Patterson School for Diplomacy and International Commerce in Lexington, Kentucky.