On Socialism

Ah, here we go again. Nearly a year and a half out from the presidential elections, and a raft of Democrats are tossing their names into the hat, while Republicans do everything in their power to label that hat “Socialist.” 

 

My own political views aside, it’s time we end this socialism fear-mongering bullshit once and for all. 

 

There is, of course, a reason that “socialism” strikes fear into the hearts of those ignorant of what it truly means. After all, the term “Nazi” itself was a shortened form of “National Socialism.” It’s actually a shame that the term is so tied up in such horrific, tyrannical regimes. But, like it or not—and justified or not—the very word “socialism” invariably produces venom from those on the right who continue to tie the term to its sometimes ugly history in order to maintain power.  

 

The truth of the matter is that none of these candidates—not even those furthest left—are “socialists.” They are, in fact, “democratic socialists,” who support a capitalist economy with some socialist elements. At its core, socialism is nothing more than utilizing tax revenues for services that benefit all American citizens regardless of income or social status. Services like police, fire departments, libraries, roads and bridges and other infrastructure, social security, Medicare, public schools...

 

Oh, wait... 

 

That’s right kids—we’re already a democratic-socialist nation. 

 

Our very government is a socialist entity. Every government officials’ salary is paid by way of our taxes—by way of that ever-evil “socialism.” 

 

Now, one can certainly argue the effectiveness of our existing government, but if “socialism” is so awful, why is there such universal support for social security, and when was the last time you saw someone losing their minds over police and fire and utilities and public schools available for all? 

 

And what is the alternative? For-profit enterprises in which only those who can afford it get quality service while the less affluent watch their houses burn to the ground? Where only those who can afford the road tolls can drive to work? One need only look at the state of our healthcare system to see how this plays out: the poor either forego care altogether because they can’t afford it (and are thus sicker), or they wind up in severe debt or bankrupt after an emergency medical issue. 

 

The truth is, we are already, in part, a “socialist” nation. And when we add “socialist” programs that benefit all Americans regardless of status or income, we all become a little more equal. But that, in itself, is the rationale behind the socialism fear-mongering. There are those who don’t want equality for all, and they use this one word as a scare tactic to assure that inequality remains—that humanity is stratified into the haves and the have-nots. 

 

No liberal—not even the most progressive among us—is suggesting we dismantle our capitalist society in favor of a completely socialist one. But there’s a reason why so many Scandinavian countries that already have democratic socialism in play are safer, happier, and more equal. Yes, they pay far more in taxes, but they also save considerably more by having healthcare or education or daycare costs deferred by way of those taxes. 

 

So to review, America is already a hybrid Capitalist/Socialist nation. And the next time someone pulls out the “socialism” is evil card, ask them their opinions on the myriad of social services and public programs that America provides for them and their neighbors. Odds are, they have no idea what Democratic Socialism means and how it differs from true socialism. Progressives are not socialists, nor are socialists communists. Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is either entirely ignorant or trying to scare you into believing the nonsense that keeps us from becoming a more equal and just nation.

Don’t believe the hype. Socialism isn’t some scourge that’s going to lead to the death of our nation. If that were the case, we’d have long ago collapsed.

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© 2014-2019, Daniel Schuette