- GOP Senator Marco Rubio has said that a Democratic spending bill that seeks to strengthen the social safety net is “Marxism.”
- An expert told Insider it was “absurd” and “hyperbole.”
- This is the latest example of a Republican demonizing something they oppose by linking him to Communism.
GOP Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has denounced the Democrats’ proposed $ 3.5 trillion spending bill, which includes provisions to combat climate change and expand the social safety net, under the name of “Marxism. “.
Rubio tweeted: “The $ 3.5 trillion Biden plan is not socialism, it is Marxism.”
It doesn’t make sense, based on the definition of Marxism, and the Florida Republican has been mocked by economists, historians and Democrats on Twitter for it.
“Rubio indulges in political hyperbole, a sin Republicans and Democrats quite often commit,” Thomas Alan Schwartz, historian and political scientist at Vanderbilt University, told Insider. “What the Democrats are doing with the $ 3.5 trillion program is one of the biggest additions to the American welfare state since the Great Society in the 1960s. To that extent, I understand the hyperbole, even if that’s absurd. “
Marxism, experts say, is a term used to describe the ideas put forward by Karl Marx: the vision of a communist society in which workers share ownership of the means of production, thus abolishing capital markets and private wealth that they generate – a political philosophy which in practice has never been achieved and leads mainly to the same widespread impoverishment it was intended to remedy.
Rubio’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider on how the GOP senator defines Marxism and how the bill qualifies as such.
—Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) September 30, 2021
—Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) September 30, 2021
Republicans continue to make “socialism” a bogeyman
The Florida senator’s “Marxism” tweet is just the latest example of a Republican attempting to demonize something or someone he opposes by linking him to communism or socialism.
“Socialism” and “communism” have long been dirty words in the United States, thanks in large part to the Cold War and the anti-Soviet sentiments and paranoia that characterized that era. Polls continue to show that most Americans have a negative view socialism, although there is an obvious generational gap in this regard.
“‘Socialism’ itself has lost some of its advantage for many Americans, as they might associate it with European welfare states that are not so threatening,” Schwartz said, adding that Rubio throwing Marxism “adds a great sinister element” given that the term is “closely associated with the Soviet Union and all of its horrific history”.
Republicans have played on these sentiments by regularly labeling Democrats as socialists, marxists and communists.
During the 2020 election campaign, President Donald Trump and his allies have repeatedly sought to bind Democrats to socialism. This was in part related to the fact that Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent who ran as a Democrat in 2016 and 2020, is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist (there is a difference between Democratic Socialists and Socialists).
The growing influence of young left-wing politicians like Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York – who as Sanders identifies as a Democratic socialist – has also contributed to the GOP’s continued and misleading use of “socialist” as a line of attack.
But even after Joe Biden – a moderate – became the Democratic presidential candidate, Republicans did not stop “socialist” attacks and fear campaigns. Delivering the final speech at the 2020 Republican National Convention, for example, GOP Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina said Biden wanted to turn the country into a “socialist utopia.”
Biden, who has a long and well-documented experience working with Republicans during his many years in Washington, is a centrist who often clashes with the politics of progressives and those who identify as Democratic Socialists. There’s really no reason to call Biden a socialist, but that doesn’t stop Republicans and their allies in the conservative media.
“The $ 3.5 trillion Biden-Bernie budget is an effort by Democrats to double their plans to make America a socialist nation,” said Republican Senator Todd Young of Indiana. say it Twitter last week.
“Biden must realize that Americans cannot afford his rapidly growing socialist agenda,” GOP Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said in a tweet on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren said on Tuesday that the Democrats’ proposed spending amounted to a “socialist starter pack.”
Experts define Marxism, Socialism and Communism
At this point, Republicans have used “socialist” so often as an attack that the word has apparently started to lose all meaning.
“This is actually a really interesting tweet,” Heather Cox Richardson, historian at Boston College, said on twitter in response to Rubio. “It doesn’t make sense, but it is clear that the scary word ‘socialism’ no longer has enough force, so he opts for even scarier ‘Marxism’. First true GOP fear account that I have ever had. saw today. “
Marxism, socialism and communism are often – and wrongly – used interchangeably. The three are related, but also have distinctions.
“Marxism is just an adjective designed to highlight Karl Marx’s concept of class warfare and to give the patina of intellectual respectability to such theories,” Schwartz said.
Communism, according to Marx, was “the rule of the working class over a society of political, economic and social equality,” Schwartz added. “This idealistic image seems never to have existed in any society that calls itself communist. In fact, what you have achieved is the oppressive domination of a small minority of privileged party leaders over an intimidated and submissive population – aka the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, etc. “
Socialism, in the simplest terms, refers to “the state playing a leading role in the economy, essentially creating a welfare state that supports people from cradle to grave,” Schwartz said. , adding that there are “huge variations between states that have socialist characteristics, from the benevolent socialism of a Norway or Sweden to the corrupt socialism of a Venezuela.”
Rubio has “embarked on an academic debate that has raged for decades,” Lawrence Quill, professor of political science at San Jose State University, told Insider.
“Socialism and Marxism both oppose and criticize capitalism. They share a commitment to common ownership rather than private ownership of the ‘means of production’ common to capitalist societies,” Quill said. “As far as I know, the expenditure bill does not advocate the abolition of private ownership of the means of production. Senator Rubio can therefore rest assured.”
“It is worth saying that socialism is sometimes seen as distinct from communism, which is supposed to be the full realization of [Karl] Marx’s goals, ”Quill added. “We can further speculate that what Senator Rubio was suggesting was that the Democratic spending bill was an example of communism rather than socialism. “
Quill said that while Rubio is “critical of government spending he’s in good company,” and that seems to be “what’s really going on in his little Tweet.”
Republicans have consistently presented themselves as the anti-big government party and opposed some government spending for decades while continuing to support massive increases in defense spending. There was a historical ascent in the national debt under Trump, so they don’t always practice what they preach.
As Quill said, “statements by politicians should be taken with a pinch of salt”.