It's one hundred and sixty years since Karl Mark published The Communist Manifesto. Communism had a long run, much longer than fascism. But it is long since dead.  Yes, there are less than a handful of communist dictatorships: "People's" China, Vietnam, Cuba, North Korea. The first two of these are still run by the Party. But the economies are about as rapacious capitalisms as there are in the world. Fidel Castro's Cuba was a cruel joke on its own people: unproductive, impoverished, unequal, tyrannical.  Raoul is the intermittent ruler before...God knows who and what will succeed him. North Korea may be the most cruel regime in the world, no model for anyone. Then, of course, there is Nepal, governed by the Communist Party in coalition with a Maoist sect. Communism is dead.

Socialism is also dead. And government regulation of the markets is not socialism. It is not even social democracy. It is an instrument to make capitalism democratic. Open, truthful, honest, fair.

John McCain and his thuggish collection of tacticians and strategists are in such a panic that they might lose that they have conjured up Barack Obama as a Marxist. He is not even Eugene V. Debs or Norman Thomas. There is not a trace of socialism in his platform. Certainly nothing of the public ownership of production. And that's good.

What Obama wants to do is reconstruct the social contract established in FDR's second term. That social contract mandates a fair (and, yes, livable) wage, a decent house to live in, a pension that is not subject to the business cycle, children's entitlement to decent school arrangements and an ethos of comity across social class.

It does not mean that everyone has to live a life just like others. But it means, especially in a society undone by money, that people should from the moral point of view "choose equality and free greed."