The Social Network: French Election Inspires U.S. Left

Meanwhile, in countries like France, government services like universal health care have been around for so long that the public deems them basic rights that are part of the socialist system.

There might be one key lesson for American socialists to take away from the French election, and it's a familiar socialist phrase: "unite!"

France's socialists were able to bring together a half-dozen left-wing groups into one coalition with a candidate, Hollande, they could all get behind, and he won. It was close: about 52 percent to 48 percent.

"That was really inspiring for us," said Billy Wharton, co-chairman of Socialist Party USA, one of a handful of socialist groups in the United States.

And for U.S. socialists frustrated by their fractured movement, Occupy Wall Street offers a beacon of hope. The protest movement has claimed the mantle of the masses and demanded socialist-leaning changes from the American bourgeoisie, Obama and Romney alike.

"The conditions in the country are going to force the organizations to come together," Wharton said. "People will demand that there's one voice in the socialist group."

Economists, however, are skeptical. Wright said the socialist movement is hindered by the Constitution itself — a document that helps protect the rich by creating a complicated system of government that generally favors the status quo.

Sombart himself wrote 100 years ago that the American worker "perceives a kind of divine revelation in the Constitution of his country, and consequently he reveres it with devout awe."

"His feelings toward the Constitution are as if it were something holy that is immune from mortal criticism," the German wrote. "This has been rightly spoken of as 'constitutional fetish worship.' "

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