Americans have no clue what Socialism is
This is a misleading headline.
The problem isn't that 1/5th of Americans can't define the word.
The problem is that almost all Americans haven't a clue what the word means, but are under the false impression that they do.
Yet we are about to have an election in which Trump has made attacking socialism one of his core re-election messages.
We may as well be arguing about untranslated hieroglyphs of a dead language.
It's like an episode of the Twilight Zone.
The study also found that respondents gravitated toward both positive and negative definitions of the term much more than toward its academic meaning. Only 13 percent described socialism as government ownership of some parts of the economy.
Except that government ownership of some parts of the economy isn't the correct definition of socialism either!
Jeeebuz! I know that asking them to be familiar with the history of socialist theory is too much to ask, but can't they be bothered to open a f*ckin dictionary?
Definition of socialism in English:
A political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.
- Oxford Dictionaries
a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
Notice how the word "government" isn't even mentioned.
That doesn't preclude government. Government can be, and often is, the means for the community to control and regulate capital, but it isn't necessary to the idea of socialism.
If you don't understand why that is important, consider that Anarchism is a major branch of socialism.
So let's go down the choices of this poll.
Twenty-eight percent said they believed socialism was fulfilling basic needs like healthcare, housing, and a job to everyone while another 5 percent believed it meant ending poverty.
Those are socialist policies, not socialism. It's what Fox News has been saying is socialism.
Twenty-two percent said they viewed socialism as a system lacking in civil liberties and political freedoms while seven percent associated it with abolishing all private property.
That's communism. It's also describing communism by some negative consequences.
Sort of like describing capitalism by saying "extreme inequality, poverty, and military dictatorships".
It misses the point.
Respondents' willingness to use positive language about socialism did not differ much by income. Those living in households making more than $75,000 annually were about as likely to select the same definitions as respondents who made less than $75,000 annually.
This is interesting because it shows the all encompassing power of the propaganda, and the inability of any institution in our society to break through that.
There were strong educational differences, however, with voters who had not earned a college degree being much more uncertain about socialism. Only 8 percent of respondents who had a bachelor's degree or higher said they did not know what socialism was compared to 25 percent of non-degree holders.
Which only means the less educated are more likely to be ignorant, while the more educated are more likely to be misinformed.
"Socialism", we have been told for years, decades, even generations, is any action that the government takes that might help working class people.
[note: action that the government takes that hurts working class people are rarely socialism, and thus are usually good.]
According to The Boy Who Cried Socialism, anything "socialism" is bad.
"Socialism" became a catch-all term. Communism, Fascism, Feminism, Atheism, Paganism, the Boogeyman, it all got lumped together as socialism. The actual meaning of the word was irrelevant.
But unlike The Boy Who Cried Wolf, people refused to stop believing The Boy Who Cried Socialism. The more he lied, the more firmly conservatives believed him.
Eventually people who weren't conservatives began doubting the meaning of the word socialism.
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone. "It means just what I choose it to mean - neither more or less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - that's all."
- Lewis Carroll
Here's the thing:
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez aren't socialists.
Venezuela, Sweden and Norway aren't socialist countries.
The entire debate is framed around a lie.
Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are New Deal Democrats. Their platform looks like Truman's 1948 platform.
Venezuela, Sweden and Norway are Social democracies. They are built upon the capitalist model. There is no revolutionary elements in them. Thus they are no real threat to the ruling elite.
The fact that Social Democracies are considered "socialism" shows that The Boy Who Cried Socialism has won.
The word "socialism" has been redefined in everyone's mind, eventhough anyone can open a dictionary and read it's real meaning.
Even after a radical shift to the left, political discourse would never even dream of debating actual socialism. The words don't exist to have that discussion.
"The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotees of Ingsoc, but to make all other modes of thought impossible.
- George Orwell, 1984