There is a reason for the scare quotes. That is the Guardian's characterization, perhaps looking to provide an excuse for incoherence. However, I find it singularly difficult to believe that a headliner for this event would go all the way to Australia, while giving no thought to what he was going to say.
Cutting straight to the chase, Simon asserts the US is arguably the most broken country in the world. Here is why, paraphrased:
Inequality. He's not a Marxist, but. "The ultimate tragedy of capitalism is its dominance without regard to a social compact …" He hates the notion that profit is the metric by which we measure the health of our society. He dates that to 1980. Between then and the beginning of the 20th century, the US created a consumer class by the the ongoing compromises between capital and organized labor. Then 1980 and poof, we suddenly believe in trickle down economics, and that a free market knows best,
… where now libertarianism in my country is actually being taken seriously as an intelligent mode of political thought. It's astonishing to me. But it is. People are saying I don't need anything but my own ability to earn a profit. I'm not connected to society. I don't care how the road got built, I don't care where the firefighter comes from, I don't care who educates the kids other than my kids. I am me. It's the triumph of the self. I am me, hear me roar.Therefore socialism. And because the US isn't socialist, it is a horror show:
You're seeing a retrenchment in terms of family income, you're seeing the abandonment of basic services, such as public education, functional public education. You're seeing the underclass hunted through an alleged war on dangerous drugs that is in fact merely a war on the poor and has turned us into the most incarcerative state in the history of mankind, in terms of the sheer numbers of people we've put in American prisons and the percentage of Americans we put into prisons. No other country on the face of the Earth jails people at the number and rate that we are.Therefore socialism, because:
The idea that the market will solve such things as environmental concerns, as our racial divides, as our class distinctions, our problems with educating and incorporating one generation of workers into the economy after the other when that economy is changing; the idea that the market is going to heed all of the human concerns and still maximise profit is juvenile. It's a juvenile notion and it's still being argued in my country passionately and we're going down the tubes. And it terrifies me because I'm astonished at how comfortable we are in absolving ourselves of what is basically a moral choice. Are we all in this together or are we all not?And Americans are idiots for the debacle of a debate over something as basic as healthcare policy [He said this despite six weeks of the unfolding disaster that is Obamacare in action]. So imagine how bad Americans are going to be when it "… comes to something as complicated as global warming.
Group health insurance is socialism, you idiots. And because it is, that is just the same as doing it for 300 million Americans. Americans are stupid because they don't get that.
Therefore, more New Deal. Which won't happen because the popular will is completely suppressed. Therefore, America is the most broken country in the world.
You can judge for yourself, but I think my summary fairly represents what he said.
Which is so astonishingly incoherent that it is hard to know where to start. Capital and organized labor can compromise in exactly the same way as electricity and doing the laundry. He can't have been alive since 1980 and glibly dismiss trickle down economics. He likes his strawmen by the squadron. He attributes to capital effects for which it cannot be the cause. Libertarians aren't fans of the war on drugs; by the way, where is the socialist paradise that has legalized them? Not satisfied with a mere squadron of strawmen, he concocts an entire army. He is a perfect example of why the Church of Warmenism is so attractive to progressives. He has no idea how it came to be that employers purchase health insurance, and can't understand the difference between a company and a society.
And we are the idiots?
So far, not really worthy of a post. Another progressive smugly mowing down straw armies by hurling talking points grabbed almost at random from the progressive bag of bollocks is hardly news. Far more
#16: We are propagandized into a culture of the self, which Simon alludes to. [I am a firm believer in free speech, but if I was the Head Dude What's in Charge, the first thing to go would be passive voice. Why is that practically the progressive default writing style?] … The Left is not going to get anywhere in these circumstances without accepting class warfare as a fact, and without accepting the necessity of destroying individuals and institutions on the Right. [I think we have found Dzerzhinsky's replacement]
#17: The big problem, as I see it, with social democratic politics is that is has been true to its Marxist roots in embracing a deterministic notion of historical progress and so, almost a century after Bernstein called it into question, just haven’t given the problem of the parliamentary road to democratic socialism any serious attention. Part of that laziness of vision might be because of a ambivalence to the more decentralized strategies favored the cooperative movement, the unfavored sibling to the institutions of Big Labor and the Welfare State (almost everywhere except for Sweden interestingly). But whatever the cause, it is a problem that needs attention. [If you have a taste for leaden prose, progressives are far more likely to satisfy than anyone else. Why is that?]
#33: Expropriation must precede, logically and historically, the creation of democratic processes.
#48: My favorite kooky little gem would be having governments (at any level, but especially the national level) going into business as competitors of private business. Key areas of re-industrialization (consumer electronics, clothing and textiles, etc.) would be targeted by chartering, and initially capitalizing, co-operative, employee/ government-owned, manufacturing entities of various kinds, with an eye to moving gradually toward worker-ownership and operation of virtually all industry …
… Increase taxable base for SSI to 500g and means test. [Progressives really do love expropriation.]
#55: Expropriation is an attitude, a recognition that there is no private property or personal rights.
Communities, as opposed to collections of individuals are formed, I believe, at the moment and in the act of public open (at least to themselves) expropriation. [I'm sensing a pattern here.]
#76: There will and must be crime, even if it is nothing more than illegal strikes and mass demonstrations and occupations of property and public spaces (and who can question, really, the legitimacy of the outbursts of spontaneous rage that can seize whole communities?). The question is always: How much crime, and how much, if any, violence? That is the nut, and it’s a hard one.
#101: The [US] “Constitutional Republic” is probably the most efficient anti-democratic system, creating as I said a Leviathan to limit democracy and implant authoritarianism in the minds of the citizens. Elitist and propertarian.
And the esteemed David Simon wonders why we idiot Americans are so suspicious of socialism.