Whatever its current state — proven impossible and undesirable by the forces of history, I’d say — communism originally arose in response to real dangers, the likes of which we’re fortunate to not know today. To turn a phrase, the history of the 19th century is the history of the failure of unregulated capital markets. It just plain doesn’t work, tending towards runaway greed and disastrous externalities rather than anything resembling “real freedom” or prosperity.
Naturally tensions came to a head by the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the Progressive Era — which Glenn Beck views as a monstrous evil, but for which any working man or woman should be thankful. To stave off imminent violence from angry workers, Washington leadership would move in the next twenty years to enforce an eight-hour workday, a forty-hour workweek, and institute industrial safeguards, designed to put an end to tragedies like the Triangle Shirtwaist fire, borne off a surfeit of greed and a deficit of basic humanity. But it would begin with a simple holiday — Labor Day, an olive branch to rioting Pullman workers, to signal that Washington was willing to listen.
America navigated between the twin perils of unrestrained markets and socialism not by sucking it up and letting conglomerates continue to abuse their workers, but by discovering the regulatory state. For more than a century, regulated capitalism has worked for America. Today, our day off is a chance to remind ourselves that sometimes, catchy jingles aside and kitschy parties aside, government intervention, in moderation, is the answer, and the cure for rather, than a road to socialism.