the Informed

Why Socialism Is A Dirty Word & You Should Feel Terrible About Yourself

Have you ever wondered exactly what is wrong with you? Have you ever wondered why you should feel like an awful person because you're a soft, left-wing, entitled, privileged, communist, liberal little twerp? Because if you haven't, you probably should. You see, since the late 19th century, they were branding you a loose canon, a disturber of the peace, a stoned-slacker and a traitor. A terrorist even. As propaganda infiltrated political systems and swayed public opinion, so-called liberals and activists have not been immune to its wrath; in fact they have been a target of it. The propagandists have long demonized them in order to maintain the status-quo and along with it, demonized the idea of socialism in an effort to neuter and render it a dirty word.

Let me hear that dirty word Socialism. - Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth in Bulworth (1998) written by Warren Beatty

So why do Americans, for example, especially feel that it is such a foul concept, to be shunned like the plague, when socialist countries like Sweden and Switzerland enjoy much higher standards of living and when the US actually implements a large number of socialist programs itself, programs that benefit large numbers of its citizens? Why do some people refuse to examine and understand this potentially hugely beneficial political construct, and only think of it in cursory terms? I think that to fully examine this question, it's important to first understand that:

There are many varieties of socialism and there is no single definition encapsulating all of them. They differ in the type of social ownership they advocate, the degree to which they rely on markets or planning, how management is to be organised within productive institutions, and the role of the state in constructing socialism. - Wikipedia on socialism via Alec Nove

Despite the wide range of socialist concepts, all forms essentially share the notion of social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy, and this is what, in essence, ruffles so many collective capitalist feathers. This whole idea very much flies in the face of capitalism and is diametrically opposed to it, which is why it is so important for its detractors to keep its name sullied. There are many capitalists for example, who feel that it is important to maintain a system that keeps its citizens in a perpetual state of competition with one another, pitting every man and woman against the other in an attempt to collect more stuff and feel and appear more important. But science is continually reinforcing the theory that the human species thrives when in a state of cooperation. We are not the strongest or the fastest species, yet we rose to prominence through cooperation. In fact, we depend on it, and this is the crux of the issue; for by contrast when we require a service to be universally available for our society to function, we tend to draw upon socialist philosophies to ensure its continues success and availability; health care, public utilities and the like.

It then comes down to the basic concept that we are either here to help our fellow human beings survive and prosper, and thus benefit collectively, or we are only here to acquire as much for ourselves as we can, and in effect, be greedy little bastards. As appealing as that notion is to many, it is inherently flawed, as is capitalism itself. In the face of the absolutely extreme examples of inequality in the world, it becomes clear to the informed person that some degree of equality must exist and be maintained to preserve a moral social order. There must exist, for the peace of mind that we are all taken care of, some degree of socialism. To accept anything less not only sells us short but also disagrees with our essence as human beings. Just as corporations strive to become the next iconic symbol of their particular niche, why then can we not create an iconic society, an example of how it's done?

The trick to all of this, the rub, is that for a fair and equal system of governance to exist in a given society, there must be a sense of equality and individual as well as collective ownership, and for this to happen, small, locally organized governments must come about. Controlling the manufacturing, the transfer of information, autonomous; for when people are autonomous, they are free to soar.

I believe in individual freedom; that's my primary and complete commitment—individual liberty. That’s what it's all about. And that's what socialism was supposed to be about, or anarchism was supposed to be about, and tragically has been betrayed. - Murray Bookchin

Socialism, like any political construct, is only an idea, and like all ideas, is subject to scrutiny. But can we not at least come to a place where the majority of people decide the reality, not these modern-day elections that are only an illusion of choice? Can we not agree to take care of all human beings, where we share and collaborate and cooperate? Can we not agree to try to live together and be in support of one another? We live in a time where the planet is on the brink of collapse, where the systems that we rely on, the natural as well as the man-made, are on the precipice of falling down, and when that happens, no one wins, not even the elite. We need to tear down systems that only work for the very few and start to govern ourselves in a manner that befits the beauty of the human race. We allow a billion people to starve; why, because there is no profit in feeding them? This is wrong. We allow the corporations to destroy the planet so that they can profit. This too is wrong. It is time to examine other political systems with an open mind and reject the notion that they are bad merely because we've been told they are. It is time to reject the McCarthyism that plagues our society, the awful practice of making unfair allegations to silence dissent. It is time to wake up and embrace a system, whatever form it may take, that serves us, and not them.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below. Follow me on Twitter @craiganthonyiii

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