Dilbert Brings Socialism to The Funny Pages

To the delight of some and the dismay of others, the socialist idea continues to slowly, if very belatedly, make its way throughout the channels of American culture. Of particular recent note was its appearance in Dilbert, the daily comic strip send-up of the foibles of corporate office life. Of course, since it is the office’s peripatetic do-nothing Wally who has experienced a socialist awakening, we get the lazy man’s take on the subject. Still, the simple fact of “socialism” making it to the “funny pages” of the nation’s remaining newspapers—has to qualify as some kind of news in itself.

A couple of September Dilbert comic strips kick starts a Common Dreams opinion piece on
“what it means to be a socialist in 21st century America.”

While the strip does hold great appeal for some critics of capitalism, few would look for political guidance from its creator, Scott Adams, who once announced a (temporary) switch in support from Donald Trump to Hillary Clinton because, “Where I live, in California, it is not safe to be seen as supportive of anything Trump says or does.” But he certainly broke new ground when Wally one day announced

The political intervention would prove brief. The next day, Wally tells Dilbert…

© Scott Adams

With this, Wally raises his ever present coffee mug and closes the second, and thus far final day of this excursion into political economy.

The mug-is-half -full take on all this might be to greet this casual humorous reference as a modest benchmark of socialism’s increased acceptance in mainstream culture; the half-empty view might be to dismiss it as just another distorted, belittling reference. Either way, there’s probably little point in over thinking the significance of a few panels in a comic strip. Perhaps more relevant, though, is the degree to which Dilbert’s treatment wasn’t notably less sophisticated than what else you’ll encounter in American mass media—including in the ostensibly serious news.

That just about covers the Dilbert related portion of the essay which turns
to a discussion of socialism in America and the politics of same:

High on this year’s you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up list of commenters on socialism had to be NY Rep. Elise Stefanik. Stefanik, who recently replaced Liz Chaney as third-ranking House Republican, greeted July 30th’s 50-year anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid with a tweet celebrating “the critical role these programs have played to protect the healthcare of millions of families,” while warning that “to safeguard our future, we must reject Socialist healthcare schemes.”

Read all of Tom Gallagher’s commentary at Common Dreams.