Is It Socialism?

Essentially, I’m still on a break. For the most part, I’ve been able to work out my problems with the Quickbooks update, but I’m not quite ready to tackle a full post. Although I continue to read your blogs and occasionally add my thoughts, I think you’ll agree that’s a whole lot different than writing an entire post!

Having said that, one of the bloggers I follow occasionally tackles the subject of politics. From my perspective, it appears fairly obvious this writer thinks most Democrats lean toward “socialism” — and in this person’s mind, the word definitely carries a negative connotation.

A quote from a recent post: At its core, socialist policies are not meant to provide equality but rather to undermine freedoms. 

To reinforce his perspective, the blogger provided a link to this article. I’d be interested in your thoughts and reactions.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

34 thoughts on “Is It Socialism?

    • Yes, it’s a good article. Too many people really don’t know what they’re arguing about. Further, as the article states, many old-timers (a majority of whom are Republicans) still remember the “better dead than red” of the Soviet era and are unable to see beyond that.

      To me, this statement summed it up well — The idea that “capitalism” has failed us and that “socialism” is the answer relies on a cartoonish oversimplification of reality.

      It seems for many it has to be one or the other when a “mix” is more closely aligned to actuality.

      Liked by 6 people

      • Hello Nan. You mention “a mix” and you are correct. That is all any of the most left leaning politicians are proposing. No one wants a totally socialist society and I doubt one really exists, not even Venezuela despite what the tRump government wants you to believe. All anyone has been talking about is democratic socialism such as many other successful countries have. Most countries including ours have some socialized programs. I and those I support such as Elisabeth Warren are all simply saying that some effort to control run away capitalize and to divert some money to safety programs for the non-wealthy. All studies show that capitalism with out any controls basically is not sustainable and ends up very destructive. I have enjoyed our talks on how people feel about the word socialism, and I think our candidates have to do more emphases the difference between that and Democratic socialism. You have mentioned before to me there is an age difference in understanding what is being talked about. So educating the public is needed. However we shouldn’t shy away from this because of fear over what the Republicans will brand the Democrats. They will brand the Democrats the most harmful way possible no matter what the Democrats do. I posted a cartoon of a republican saying basically “How will the Democrats get my vote of they don’t become Republicans”? Hugs

        Liked by 2 people

  1. The founders created the Constitution to guard the rights we possessed innately (natural rights) and then formed the Post Office. They definitely did not want a permanent army, but they established a leadership chain for any army that might get created.

    That we were launching onto a discovery of what it is like to be self-governed, we clearly recognized there were things we should do individually (go to church) and things we should do collectively (deliver the mail).

    As it turns out we can decide for ourselves what things fall into these two categories. Some of these things are forbidden us. The Constitution forbids the collective endorsement of a religion, for example. But it does not forbid any of the other things we do for the collective good. In fact the Constitution grants the Congress to act in ant way allowed to “promote the general welfare” of the citizens of the US. So whether something is capitalist (not endorse by the Constitution btw) or socialist (not prevented by the Constitution). Irrelevant.

    Well, there is also the fact that these people continue to refuse to address socialism for what it is. It hardly matters as most of the plutocrats are anti-collectivists. They want two things: a strong military and courts to enforce contracts. These are the only collective actions they favor. For the rest they want individuals to reign. I wonder why this is? Could it be that they have accumulated enough power (aka money) to do any damn thing they want … that isn’t opposed by the collective will of the citizens of this country? That they have essentially blocked the collective will of the citizens of this country from having any effect upon Congress seems to answer that question.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. It does seems as if he’s saying that by allowing to us have (or keep or get back) our ‘basic rights’ we will have to give those rights up because they will infringe on other people’s rights. Er.

    Actually, he’s correct, in a convoluted way. I see it as a give-and-take process. In the simplest form, I think of free speech. My neighbor wants to tell me how wonderful Sarah Palin is. I don’t agree, and try to tell her so. She shouts that I’m blocking her ‘right to free speech” and she’s right, except it’s not free, it’s a diatribe and only one person is allowed to talk. It’s not a convo. Unless I agree to her terms, I will not be allowed to discuss it.

    Even on a gentler level, ‘free speech’ means, basically, you take turns. If you are on a podium in a park or an auditorium, you “have the floor” and people can listen, maybe heckle, but not prevent you from your right speech.

    You have a right to have a child and in some cases choose NOT to have a child, i.e., birth control. Your choice. It may deprive your mother of the joys of grannyhood, but that’s her problem, not yours. Or you may decide to end a pregnancy that could kill you, or your unborn child it turns out is missing all its limbs and is retarded. It’s your choice to raise the child, but it is your choice to end the pregancy. Your body. Your life.

    You have the freedom to own a gun, but you do not have the freedom to shoot it off at 2 AM, or to take out the barky dog next door.

    Freedom ain’t free. Freedom is basically the right to acknowledge yourself and others as belonging to the same tribe, and working that way. You have the freedom to walk down any street you want. But you do not have the freedom to push people out of the way to do so.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Social democracy is often confused with democratic socialism. Many popular democrats switch between utilizing these vastly different ideologies at the drop of a criticism, so it’s hard to actually pin one or the other on anyone. Bernie is a master at this, as is Chomsky.

    At their roots, both ideologies place the emphasis on the social bit, on the aspect of serving the needs of the polis… either in whole or in part. The problem arises – as the OP explains – with how the emphasis on the social when awarded rights and freedoms by courts and government (a top down award) can and does conflict with the fundamental unit that has rights and freedoms (and the bottom up CONSENT that legitimizes democracy… otherwise known but these days mostly forgotten as government OF the people, BY the people, FOR the people): namely, the individual. This the heart and soul of liberal democracy and is the central pillar of Western constitutional governments. Liberal democracies have always had a special place for necessary social organizations (like the fire department or the military or the courts or the police or regulatory oversight bodies), which is why the rights and freedoms of its members when acting in this capacity change with the donning of a uniform but revert when not.

    So when we speak of rights and freedoms in a liberal democracy, we are speaking of what every individual citizen of majority shares and it has nothing whatsoever to do with government; rather government is an expression of the collective, of the polis, and governs only by its borrowed consent. Remove the consent, remove the government.

    So when social advocates come along and fail to recognize this fundamental condition upon which secular democracies function and try to replace it with a social democracy where the government and court bestows rights and freedoms, then we have a very real problem that threatens the constitutional recognition of the supremacy of the individual in law, closely followed by the legitimacy of government that appoints itself as the source of its citizen’s rights and freedoms… using all the popular buzzwords favoured by the earnestly ‘woke’ or the patriotically/patriarchically confused.

    The canary in the coal mine is when we see a rise in the election of populists who utilize democratic popularity to undermine legal rights and freedoms of the individual in the name of the people. See how that crosses the ideological boundary between the social and the liberal? This faux middle ground helps get elected these days in highly partisan and divisive political battlegrounds and so we see this shift towards populism all over the West in response to the rise of socialist ideology taking over the Left and libertarian ideology taking over the Right. This is seriously dysfunctional because it is contrary to the foundation of our political system and the institutional values it is supposed to embody. It’s as seductive as it is slimy.

    What’s being lost in all the noise is the ‘radical’ center, the liberal middle ground, the place where our fundamental rights and freedoms stay with real people in real life and aren’t ‘awarded’ special privileges based on group and identified minorities membership, by tribal bloodlines and victimized status, all in the name of assuaging racial and gender guilt using all the NewSpeak buzzwords like tolerance and duty and diversity and patriotism and respect and compassion and safe spaces and being otherwise ‘woke’ to the point of ideological stupor or blinded by the fervor of some chauvanistic patriotism.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tried to post the following on that website, Nan, but have not yet been successful. However, I will post it here, for your and everyone’s perusal. It is directed to the writer of the post as well as the commenters:

      You seem to be missing something here about your Declaration of Independence (DofI )that is obvious to a non-American, and should be obvious to all of you. The DofI guarantees life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, where liberty is only 1/3 of the offerings. For the present I will ignore the pursuit of happiness, because you can ONLY pursue happiness when you are not fighting for your survival.
      So let me direct my words to life, the first guarantee. Life is not just being born, but it is a process of living that starts with birth and ends with death. The period between birth and death is usually about 70 to 80 years these days, though it can be shorter or longer. No matter, it is the process that counts, and if one cannot survive that period then the guarantee is null and void. There can be a lot of reasons why life may end prematurely, some which are outside the coverage of the guarantee, but there are also a lot which are within its purview. Food, shelter, and health are but three of the latter. These things are rights under the meaning of the DofI, but they are more–they are necessities. You cannot have life without them. Nor can you have liberty!
      How can you guarantee liberty if you cannot first guarantee life? You cannot. So if you want to talk “negative” rights, please start in the right place. Life is a negagive UNLESS you provide its necessities.
      But you folks seem to ignore the prominence of life in the Declaration. Life is meaningless to you because you already have it. But what of those who don’t have it, or are losing it? It is your responsibility as Americans to provide life to all, not the fact of birth, but the process of life, the making it to the end of one’s natural life. But I read this post, and the comments appended to it, and nowhere do I find any caring for the lives of your fellow Americans. You are so individualistic as to care only about your own lives, when everyone’s lives are in your hands. Speaking of negatives, if you “do nothing” for the lives of others, you are virtually sentencing them to death, taking away all their liberties, as well as their ability to pursue happiness. You are responsible for their wellbeing!
      It is time for each one of you individuals to realize that you have responsibilities beyond your tiny selves. If you are responsible for your own lives, and you are, then you are responsible for all lives. If you don’t know that yet, it is time to learn…

      Liked by 5 people

  4. Social security is socialistic and so is Medicare. Both programs are extremely popular even among Republicans and have worked well to reduce poverty and improve the health of millions of elderly Americans.

    Corporate tax breaks and subsides are also socialistic. These programs are quite unpopular among working class people across the political spectrum because it is seen as diverting limited tax revenues away from badly stressed social programs and towards wealthy interests. Conversely, these programs have undoubtedly kept some businesses from failing such as those in agriculture which are vulnerable to volatile global market conditions.

    Can a self-described “capitalist” support socialist programs like Social Security and Medicare? Yes, obviously.

    Can a self-described “socialist” oppose socialist programs that benefit corporations and business? Yes, obviously.

    Virtually all countries in the world utilize some form of “mixed-market” economies which combine varying levels of free enterprise and socialism. In fact, I think it would be impossible to identify any nation that was exclusively one or the other.

    Liked by 10 people

  5. I skimmed the article, but I’ve read the exact same article dozens of times over the years. It’s the same old libertarian ideology and quasi-religious rhetoric. They imbue property rights with a sanctity that elevates them above all other rights, and then declare taxation to be an egregious violation of property rights, and thus justify the conclusion that having the government do virtually anything to improve the condition of the whole society is bad because it will involve raising taxes on somebody. The use of buzzwords like “negative rights” and bringing up the Soviet Union are further giveaways.

    The fact is that no complex society can function without the state, and except in rare case where there is some huge outside source of money (such as a small country with a lot of oil), the state cannot perform its functions without imposing taxes. How much the state should do for the society, and how much tax should be collected to pay for it and from whom, are all issues to be decided by weighing costs and benefits — ideological absolutism has no place in such a pragmatic discussion. The proper way for such cost-benefit decisions to be made is democracy.

    Libertarianism may have been a legitimate philosophy decades ago when it really was focused on individual freedom and not just coming up with rationalizations for ranting against taxes (though even then it made the fundamental error of treating government as the only possible source of threats to individual freedom, while in fact large concentrations of private wealth and power are at least as great a threat). Libertarianism today is just a fake ideology dedicated to thinking up justifications for the continuation of an ultra-wealthy oligarchy, and thinking up objections to anything anybody wants to do to rein in the power and privilege of that oligarchy or re-distribute some of its wealth back to the working class which actually created that wealth. I have no interest in getting down into the weeds of the various details of their justifications and objections. It’s like arguing about the exact style and color of the emperor’s new clothes.

    I really don’t care much about the label “socialism” either. It’s used to mean too many different things by different people. Debate each proposed program or policy on its own merits, pragmatically. Arguing about labels just muddies the waters. That’s why libertarians like to do it.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. As long as realising that goals are ideals and not absolutely set in concrete with an impossible timeline, I see no contradiction between aiming high in socialistic terms and possessing freedom.

    Aotearoa New Zealand is, in comparison to the USA, very socialist, with central government being responsible for everything from socialised medicine and healthcare, education to being a significant owner of public utilities such as power generation, the rail network, etc. Yet unlike the USA, we have had competitive markets in postal services gas and electricity for decades. There’s no regulation prohibiting me from personally dropping flyers or commercial junk mail into every letterbox in town, and I can legally set up and operate a brothel without seeking a permit or registration.

    As for freedoms, in almost every freedom index available, our little country is head and shoulders above the USA, be they:
    Economic Freedom: NZ 3rd; US 16th
    Human Freedom: NZ 1st, US 17th
    Freedom in the World: NZ 7th; US 51st
    Press Freedom: NZ 7th; US 48th
    Open Government: NZ 2nd; US 11th
    Freedom from Corruption: NZ 2nd; US 22nd

    When it comes to socialism and freedom, I’m not convinced that a rise in one, necessitates a fall in the other.

    Liked by 5 people

    • When it comes to socialism and freedom, I’m not convinced that a rise in one, necessitates a fall in the other.

      Of course not. People who can’t afford health insurance and who make a minimum wage so low they can barely survive with a full-time job are less free, not more. That dichotomy is being promoted by people whose de facto definition of “freedom” is “lower taxes and less regulation”.

      How does New Zealand do on freedom of speech? That’s the one area where the US really does seem to be best (the “hate speech” laws in Canada and Europe, which in practice are mostly used to harass people who tell the truth about Islam, would be unconstitutional here). As a blogger I naturally find that a rather important point. And of course it has no connection with socialism one way or the other.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Freedom of speech or freedom of expression? The two are not quite the same thing. We have no constitutional rights when it comes to either – it’s a bit difficult as the country doesn’t have a codified/formal constitution.

        However our Bill Of Rights Act states “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.”

        Some forms of hate speech are restricted. It is a criminal offence to publish or use threatening, abusive or insulting words where there is an intention of exciting ill-will or hostility to the people targeted.

        This seems a reasonable restriction to me. Just as freedom can be curtailed by poverty or lack of education, so can it be affected by a hostile environment.

        It’s also unlawful for anyone to publish or distribute threatening, abusive or insulting words likely to excite hostility or bring into contempt any group of persons who may be coming to or in New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race or ethnic origins of that group of persons, but this is a civil matter, not a criminal one. Note that the restriction does not apply to religion.

        Since the Christchurch massacre in March, there has been much debate over the topics of free speech and hate speech. I don’t see the us reaching clarity on this for some time.

        Liked by 4 people

        • I guess it’s a question of how those provisions are interpreted. It sounds to me like they could at least potentially be interpreted to ban any kind of negative opinion about certain groups, but one would have to know the case law and precedent, as with how Constitutional rights in the US work in practice. In the US there are restrictions on speech which is an incitement to violence, but we also have people who interpret virtually any expression of opinion they don’t like as incitement to violence. Fortunately court rulings don’t back them up.

          With all due respect, in spite of how bad things are in the US in most ways, I’m glad we have a solid Constitutional guarantee of free expression which rules out most of the ways that right gets nibbled away at in other countries (and an even stronger guarantee in Oregon specifically). Blogging would be a much more perilous undertaking without it.

          Technology is gradually making it impossible for governments to censor anything on the internet, anyway, so I suppose in a few years it will all be a moot point.

          Liked by 2 people

        • I’ll admit that Aotearoa New Zealand is one of less than a handful of countries without a formal constitution. The only other two I’m aware of are the UK and Israel. But history has shown that constitutions can be tossed out or reinterpreted in ways that contradict the original intent. Even the US isn’t imune. As it is, gerrymandering of voting districtsis rife. Politicians scrap over judicial appointments.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Hello Infidel. I am a bit confused by your response. My understanding of the 1st amendment is that the government can not abridge freedom of speech but in all other respects not government controlled speech can be restricted. So yes a government platform can not restrict speech unless it qualifies as incitement to riot or such, any non-government platform like twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and other private corporation controlled platforms can definitely control the speech on their sites. In our society today even the ability to stand on the street corner and shout at people going by about your favorite topic has limitations so as to not negatively effect the rights of others and especially businesses that may feel you are disrupting their commerce. I am not sure the freedom of speech is as absolute as many people might think it is. Hugs

          Liked by 1 person

    • It makes one wonder why one country is so much more advanced in their government operations than others. What happened along the way that made the difference?

      As I indicated in another comment, I think for many the word socialism itself has too much baggage tied to it. Thus, they’re unable to see the advantages. It may not be the be-all to end-all, but it sure offers some distinct takeaways.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t think it’s a matter of one being more advanced than another. I think it’s a matter of perspective. The motivation for moving to and settling in America in its formative years was vastly different from what motivated colonisation of Aotearoa New Zealand. Our forebears came to escape the excesses of 19th century capitalism, and they were passionate about fairness and egalitarianism. That’s what led us to become the the first nation to introduce universal social security and to give women the right to vote.

        Contrast that to what motivated the colonisation of America. It seems to me that a great many migrated to escape the excesses of the Christian reformation and the close relationship between church and state. Between them, the declaration of independence and the constitution seem reflect the ideals and fears of those settlers.

        I think the concerns and passions of our settler forebears is still reflected in the psyche of our respective nations. We are more suspicious of Big Business than we are of Big Government. We prefer compromise rather than confrontation, and as we don’t have a codified constitution, we’re better able to experiment and adapt government and its structures knowing that if we get it wrong, it’s easy to try something else. America is hamstrung by its constitution.

        On the other hand, some freedoms are enshrined within the American constitution, whereas we as individuals have no guaranteed constitutional rights. We rely on convention and good faith to make the system work to our benefit, but if we ever loose or forget either, we’ll be in a big pile of sh!t.

        Maybe it’s the knowledge that our rights aren’t guaranteed that makes us more aware of the need to protect them and make the whole government machine work for our benefit. Just a thought 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • I didn’t want to appear smug, so I avoided mentioning being more civilised 🙂

          Actually, while we do well in the public arena, we don’t do so well in others. We have an appalling family violence record (on par with the US), high youth suicide (higher than the US) and high incarceration rates (about half of the US, but very high by world standards). So I’m not sure that civilised is entirely appropriate.

          Liked by 2 people

  7. It’s difficult to have an honest conversation about socialism here in the U.S., because somehow any policy that democrats want is socialism, but if Republicans want it, it’s patriotic. As has been pointed out, we are already a blended country in terms of being capitalist and socialist and Republicans already support many socialist things like the military, social security, medicaid, interstates, etc. I believe capitalism has a role to play, but a pure capitalist laissez-faire economy isn’t any better than a socialist one, run by greed driven authoritarians.

    There are many positive arenas for capitalism to thrive. Medicine and education are two that don’t lend themselves well to capitalist economic models. It might be true that liberals like me want things shifted a bit more to the socialist end of the spectrum, but that in no way means I want our blended economy to end. It’s a slippery slope argument to say if you’re for single payer health care, or government regulations for carbon emissions you must want communist Russia or Venezuela to happen. Of course most people don’t understand the reason for those failed states. It had little to do with socialism as an ideal.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Nan, even though this post talks about Socialism specifically, I would like to get your take on the matter of Social Democracy. As I understand it, social democracy is distinguished from some modern forms of democratic socialism for seeking to humanize capitalism and create the conditions for it to lead to greater democratic, egalitarian, and solidaristic outcomes. It is characterized by a commitment to policies aimed at curbing inequality, eliminating oppression of underprivileged groups, and eradicating poverty, as well as support for universally accessible public services like child care, education, elderly care, health care, and workers’ compensation.

    It seems to me that Social Democracy is not anti-capitalist but not hardcore capitalist. As a political movement, it aims to achieve socialism through gradual and democratic means.


    • I wrote this post over three years ago. There was considerable discussion after its publication. You’re a bit late to the party!

      Personally, I’ve moved on and I imagine many of those that contributed have as well. However, I’m adding your comment in case anyone wants to offer their thoughts and continue the discussion.


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