The Lamron Nov. 4 editorial “Socialist party supports radical, unrealistic campaign platform” is filled with so much anti-communist boilerplate and distortions that it is difficult to know where to begin. The editorial claims that the Socialist Equality Party—of which the Geneseo chapter of International Youth and Students for Social Equality is its youth organization—has a “radical” program.
On this charge, at least, the editorial is correct—the SEP and IYSSE call for an end to the United States war drive and the restructuring of the economy based on human need instead of private profit. This program is “radical” in the sense that none of the politicians within the confines of the “official” political spectrum—from President-elect Donald Trump to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders—even claim to desire it.
“Contrary to the American dream and economically illiterate, socialism is fundamentally wrong,” according to The Lamron editorial. Beyond claiming that a political philosophy is “wrong,” the writer ignores the many socialist economists who were certainly not “economically illiterate,” including Karl Marx, Karl Kautsky, Rosa Luxemburg and Yevgeni Preobrazhensky.
The editorial also claims that the socialist program is “unrealistic,” but its defense of the “American dream” is unhinged. Even as labor productivity has increased, median wages have stagnated. “America’s 20 wealthiest people—a group that could fit comfortably in one single Gulfstream G650 luxury jet—now own more wealth than the bottom half of the American population combined, a total of 152 million people in 57 million households,” according to the Institute for Policy Studies.
The editorial declares, “The economies of capitalist countries tend to perform far better than their socialist counterparts,” defining these “socialist” countries as East Germany, Venezuela, Cuba and the Soviet Union. What it does not mention is that Niles Niemuth—the SEP’s vice presidential candidate and the featured speaker at a Geneseo IYSSE meeting—made clear that these were not socialist countries, despite Niemuth being part of the focus of the editorial.
Niemuth specifically advocated for Leon Trotsky’s opposition to the Stalinist degeneration of the Soviet Union. Trotsky argued that the Stalinist bureaucracy had to be overthrown by the Soviet working class and had to institute genuine, democratic planning for socialist development to occur.
The editorial, in bad faith, said nothing of this analysis—despite the fact that it was a key part of the question and answer session. Had the editorial been written in good faith, it would have attempted to refute this analysis.
The editorial also does not mention that Niemuth specified that Venezuela and Cuba are led by bourgeois-nationalist governments, which came up after a question was asked about “socialist countries like Denmark [sic]” primarily exporting “bread lines.”
I must also note the unbecoming vitriol of the editorial in question. It contributes nothing to the level of discourse and simply attacks a political program through ad hominem. Past Lamron articles discussing Trump’s fascistic candidacy and the possible effects of his administration have used more professional language.
The anti-communist pieces published in The Lamron in 2016 have been below the standards of journalism I have hoped for from our school newspaper.
As we head into four years of a Trump administration, people are going to be looking for answers, and some will look to the socialist movement. I welcome discussion on the program of the SEP and IYSSE, but I ask that The Lamron hold its columnists to a higher standard.
Clarification: November 29, 2016
This article features the sentence, "Trotsky argued that the Stalinist bureaucracy had to be overthrown by the Soviet working class and had to institute genuine, democratic planning for socialist development to occur." The sentence should read: "Trotsky argued that the Stalinist bureaucracy had to be overthrown by the Soviet working class and that genuine democratic planning be instituted for socialist development to occur."
This article states, "The editorial claims that the Socialist Equality Party—of which the Geneseo chapter of International Youth and Students for Social Equality is its youth organization—has a “radical” program." It is to be clarified that Geneseo is not the whole of the Socialist Equality Party's youth organization.