Wallace Shawn: Why I Call Myself A Socialist

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We live in a world of Republican framing. Every single day on this site we combat and argue against that framing.

But one thing I never thought would be necessary to do would be to teach Americans the concept of socialism. The great right-wing noise machine has made "socialism" some great to-be-feared "ism" like the Communism of the Soviet Union, conjuring up day-long bread lines and lazy welfare queens living off your hard labor.

But the truth is somewhat less sinister than that. The five happiest countries in the world are...wait for it...democratic socialist countries. The countries are socialist in that taxes go towards services for the citizens. Top-ranking Denmark offers the social safety nets of universal health care, retirement pensions, college educations and even child care, as well as amazing income equality.

Truly, there's nothing scary about socialism as it is practiced around the world. It's time for liberals to take back the word and embrace what how it would actually improve the life for most Americans.

Playwright and actor Wallace Shawn takes a good first step by openly admitting in his new essay why he calls himself a socialist:

The global market selects out a tiny group of privileged babies who are born in certain parts of certain towns in certain countries and these babies are allowed to lead privileged lives [..]

As for all the other babies, the market sorts them and stamps labels onto them and hurls them violently into various pits, where an appropriate upbringing and preparation are waiting for them. [..]

Actors understand the infinite vastness hiding inside each human being, the characters not played, the characteristics not revealed. Schoolteachers can see every day that, given the chance, the sullen pupil in the back row can sing, dance, juggle, do mathematics, paint, and think. If the play we’re watching is an illusion, if the baby who now wears the costume of the hustler in fact had the capacity to become a biologist or a doctor, a circus performer or a poet or a scholar of ancient Greek, then the division of labor, as now practiced, is inherently immoral, and we must somehow learn a different way to share out all the work that needs to be done. The costumes are wrong. They have to be discarded. We have to start out naked again and go from there.

Again, kudos to Chris Hayes and his team for having a Sunday morning discussion none of the other shows would dare to do.

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