Sunday, May 11, 2014

Socialism!

I try to avoid strong-worded opinions about things where I feel as though I haven't done enough research. However, there are some issues where even though I feel like I don't know much about them, I feel like I know more than those who act like they're experts. Generally speaking, I try and steer away from heated debates on economic and (some) political issues. However, I did get into a mini debate over one particular hot button topic recently, and that was: socialism.

What is socialism? Well, it's un-American. It's anti-freedom. It means that working people have to give up their hard-earned money so illegal, freeloading, pregnant, abortionists can drive fancy cars and have cell phones. Oh, and Stalin. Hitler. Yeah. The bottom line? It doesn't work. It has never worked. It never will work. It is completely impossible for it to work.

Okay, maybe that's not quite what it is. However, that's the impression you get listening to some people. For them, it's bad, and there are no two ways about it. Personally, I think that it's a bit more complicated than that though.

For starters, I am well aware that tyrannical regimes like those of Stalin and Hitler used the word socialism to describe themselves. Under Hitler, it was the National Socialists. Under Stalin, it was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Both those guys were bad, so obviously if they're socialists, then socialism is bad. This, of course, makes sense. After all, North Korea's full title is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. That's why we know that democracy, republics, and Korea is bad. Wait...what?

Okay, so maybe simply dismissing a word because of the screwed up people who use it isn't a smart way to go about this. Looking up the word in the dictionary shows us what the problem is, as while one of the definitions, "a system of society or group living in which there is no private property" certainly sounds pretty extreme, another one, "a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies" leaves a bit more room for discussion, especially when we keep in mind that "industry" can also refer to a "service".

With that in mind, it's pretty clear that even in good old freedom-loving 'Merica, we have a certain degree of socialism when it comes to some aspects of our lives, and I think that you'd be hard-pressed to find somebody who would want to get rid of these things. For instance, if there's a fire in your house and the fire department puts it out, do they send you a bill? No. Taxpayers pay for it. And the fire department will put out any fire in their district, no matter who owns it. (That's how it's supposed to work, anyway.) The same goes for the police, road workers, the military, public school teachers (scumbags), and that guy who changed my tire when it went flat on the freeway. (So glad for him - as my infant son was in the car, and it was a hot day.)

It's crazy because you can bring this up to people who are of the "socialism = bad" mindset and they'll look at you like you're talking crazy, even though they can't tell you why those things AREN'T socialism.

Another point is that not every country that utilizes socialism more than the U.S.A. has devolved into a Orwellian dystopia. Look at the Scandinavian countries (let's count Finland as one of them to help my point as well). While they have their problems the same as every other country, their citizens enjoy a whole lot of freedoms.

So, what are you saying then, Lance? Are you some kind of socialist? Never mind if I am or not. I don't feel like I understand it enough to declare myself one or insist that I'm not one. If after reading this you determine that I am one, then that's okay with me. My point is just that if we're going to discuss socialism, and you're automatic, knee-jerk reaction is that it's 100% bad, then you understand it even less than I do.

2 comments:

Matthew Holderfield said...

I get your point about sermonizing socialism. But, it is possible to understand socialism and be philosophically opposed to it.

I think I fall into that camp. While I recognize that socialism maybe the most effective solution to specific economic problems, it is never the most efficient, and (IMO) always immoral.

Are you going to write a capitalism blog now?

Lance Johnson said...

A capitalism blog? Hmm...

I feel like it would just be a "flip side" to this one. Just as socialism isn't automatically bad, capitalism isn't automatically good.

Beyond that, I don't feel informed enough to say much else.