Americans have no clue what Socialism is

This is a misleading headline.
socialism.PNG

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.
socialism-defined.jpg

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

socialism
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.
- Dictionary.com

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.
fox.jpg

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.

fox2.jpg

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

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Cassiodorus's picture

What do we call the "socialism" that actually fits the dictionary definition rather than "socialism" as defined by Fox News, Bernie Sanders, and so on?

You now have definitions of real socialism without calling it "socialism," recognizing that since the days of the Soviet Union the whole concept of "socialism" has become nothing more than a political football. So for instance you have "participatory economics," you have the George Henderson term for socialism (borrowing from Marx), "associated production," there's the term from Marx's Capital, "union of free producers," and so on.

At any rate, you are correct to assume that there needs to be a term for real socialism, and it's not quite clear anymore that users of said term will hold their audiences' attentions if they use the word "socialism" when discussing it.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

@Cassiodorus
Especially since there are already plenty of words out there to describe what you/we are getting at.
I think the real need is expanding the conversation to include the theory and ideas behind the word. I believe society is ready to ask the question:

Why Socialism?

Because if you start an honest debate about socialism (as opposed to what we've been fed) then socialism will win hands down.
Who doesn't want to have a voice at their work? Who doesn't want to feel empowered in their life? Who doesn't want to have their vote count? Who doesn't want to have the old and sick taken care of? Who doesn't want to see an end to our wars of choice?

That's socialism, and I think society hungers for it.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@gjohnsit @gjohnsit you'll have to say you mean the real socialism, rather than the one publicized by Bernie Sanders or Fox News or (name any number of other sources). And then you'll have to explain that definition to people who are likely to confound your words by smuggling in presuppositions about socialism which they acquired from popular mythologies about "socialism."

Are we looking at a massive publicity campaign to promote the correct use of a word?

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

@Cassiodorus

Are we looking at a massive publicity campaign to promote the correct use of a word?

It's required a massive and continuous publicity campaign to confuse the correct use of a word?

Think of it this way:

How hard do you have to promote the message of "Freedom, Justice and Equality"?
It sells itself, like "Free Beer".
It's an easier sell than Bernie's version because it isn't something that sits on top of capitalism. It's a fully developed, bottom-up vision of the future.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@gjohnsit There's never going to be a revolution, y'know, and the elites will never give up power. Besides, single-payer is the best we can hope for.

That's what you're going to hear, and read.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

@Cassiodorus
People will listen to the truth when they are ready to listen, and not a moment earlier.

Our job is to flesh out the best way to communicate that truth for when that opportunity arrives.

Systems of power don't get replaced unless BOTH of these things are true:
a) the current system is obviously failing
b) there is a better alternative system ready to replace it

If only one of those items are true then nothing will change.

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Raggedy Ann's picture

@gjohnsit
must start somewhere. You are bringing awareness to the idea that the conversation must begin. Thank you! Pleasantry

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"The “jumpers” reminded us that one day we will all face only one choice and that is how we will die, not how we will live." Chris Hedges on 9/11

@gjohnsit
How is it enforced if not by government? The state "withers away"? That's a fairy story.

State ownership of industry, if not dictionary "socialism" is at least a feasible system.
"Everybody play nice" is not a feasible system.
"The group with the most biggest toughest most ruthless goons sets the rules" is a feasible system, albeit not one I care for.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness
The Spanish Republic 1930's is the best example.

Other examples are too short lived.

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TheOtherMaven's picture

@gjohnsit

It was brutally crushed by the Fascist junta under Franco, with the active connivance and assistance of Nazi Germany and the passive-aggressive complicity of the United States government.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

@Cassiodorus Why Socialism? was already covered by Albert Einstein.

Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development.
...
The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil.
...
Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.
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Pluto's Republic's picture

@gjohnsit

This comes up a lot on the radio. They say to each other that Socialism has killed more people and destroyed more nations or economies, and has failed every time it has been tried.

Any idea what they are talking about? Any country or example come to mind? Or all their heads just filled with cement?

Along that line, can you name one country that is not socialist to some degree?

How can you even form a nation without basic socialist principles to make it functional?

I really don't think it's that hard to push back against "anti-socialists" — whatever that is. I don't think it exists in nature.

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____________________
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

@Pluto's Republic
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
That's where they get Socialism = Communism

In High School I was taught that Socialism was government ownership of the means of production and Communism was government ownership of all property. So, it depends on what book the definition came from.

The NSDAP, National Socialist German Workers Party, is today regarded as Far Right rather than Left. Not sure why that added National Socialist to the older name of "German Workers Party", which also sound Left to American ears.

BTW in High school we also read Engels' "Communist Manifesto". I was roundly criticized for saying it was an accurate description of pre-New Deal capitalism and only the solution was wrong. This was in a Republican Chicago Suburb, so what can you expect. My family and most of my friends were blue collar ethnics (mostly Italian, Polish, Irish) so I knew there was nothing morally superior about the working class. Engels was a rich kid with romantic ideas. I knew "no government" meant "the Mafia rules". In that time and place the Mafia was pretty well entrenched in the government anyway. No one who grew up in the show of Richard J. Daley's Chicago could think that government consisted of knights in shiny armor. Later, when I worked in Washington DC, I found out that Congressmen were just Chicago Aldermen who demanded bigger envelopes.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

Pluto's Republic's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

So, a union of workers (a collective) acting together for improvements that ultimately affect the social well-being of the community/state is socialism. As in a union of states, whatever the states do together that ultimately affects the collective social wellbeing of the people is socialism.

Acting together(or collective bargaining) for the benefit of all the people.

"Ownership of the means of production doesn't figure into it" unless it is a public utility. Public utilities are indispensible products or services that benefit the lives of the people and society itself. People's lives would otherwise degrade and unravel modern social wellbeing without that utility. Water and Internet are two examples. All public utilities should be collectively owned by all the people, ie. nationalized. Otherwise, they will become predators = the few feeding off of the many who require the utility service to live a dignified and productive life that meets modern community standards.

Some ideas become old and moldy because they are unnatural or synthetic or they were presented as cynical or subversive counter-intelligence. "Ownership of the means of production" is a subversive and long dead idea that was revived and used for modern counter-intelligence. It was pressed on young American minds to poison them against nationalization of community property and against worker's unions in order to preserve the exploitation of the working class as a source of profits for the corporations. Sounds like that is what happened to you. It's an active trigger.

Workers, of course, should naturally share in the profits from gains in their productivity. That is fair and essential to avoid income inequality. If corporations do not vest workers in productivity gains, they should be taxed by the government and redistributed into projects that benefit society as a whole.

Businesses built on the back of society, businesses that extract from the People's commonwealth, must leave society and the environment better than they found it. Not worse.

The definition of Socialism doesn't matter. What matters is the "process" or "proof" of Socialism. Nothing comes before the well-being of society. Nothing.

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____________________
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

@The Voice In the Wilderness

In High School I was taught that Socialism was government ownership of the means of production and Communism was government ownership of all property. So, it depends on what book the definition came from.

Between the February Revolution and the October Revolution, both 1917, the Bolshevik Party ran on the slogan of:

"All power to the Soviets"

What is a soviet? It's a worker's council.
Then, less than a year after the Bolsheviks took over, they gutted the power of the soviets.
So the Bolsheviks knew that they were betraying the idea of socialism.

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@Pluto's Republic

They say to each other that Socialism has killed more people and destroyed more nations or economies, and has failed every time it has been tried.

has failed every time it has been tried:
But never by itself. "Socialist-type" governments have failed whenever the CIA backed a coup, or the U.S. bombed them. Name a socialist-leaning country that we ever left alone.

Socialism has killed more people and destroyed more nations or economies:
Socialist-leaning governments have killed only a tiny fraction of the people that capitalism has killed.
As for socialism/communism, they first exaggerate the total, and if you dispute whatever bullsh*t inflated number they throw out then you are immediately discredited.
Then there is "killed" to mostly include dying in famines. Those famines often happening during a civil war that we were funding.
Then they want to include people dying from fascism, eventhough fascism is the opposite of socialism.
Finally, and here's the big one, they never, EVER consider all of the people who died under capitalism. A famine under a communist government is communism's fault, but a famine under a capitalist government is the fault of, uh, um, socialism!

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travelerxxx's picture

@gjohnsit

This reminds me of the Mike Gravel tweet someone posted here a few days ago:

How many Latin American socialists do we have to kill for you to realize that socialism doesn’t work?

— Mike Gravel, via Twitter

He was on the money.

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QMS's picture

specific verbiage that socialism will never occur in his great america. Guess all that money we spend on cops, fire retardants and roads isn't within the capital idea of social sharing, or some such. How dumb does one have to be to believe this crappola?

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snoopydawg's picture

@QMS

and applauded Trump saying that. There is a photo of Warren standing and clapping with a big grin on her face with Bernie staying seated and not smiling.

I think that this was why Nancy gave Trump this clap...

IMG_3185_2.JPG

This photo was taken out of context and promoted to make it look like she was ridiculing him or being snarky. She wasn't. She was very much agreeing with what he said.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

thanatokephaloides's picture

@snoopydawg

I think that this was why Nancy gave Trump this clap...

This photo was taken out of context and promoted to make it look like she was ridiculing him or being snarky. She wasn't. She was very much agreeing with what he said.

The ones to whom she was giving the clap are us.

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"US govt/military = bad. Russian govt/military = bad. Any politician wanting power = bad. Anyone wielding power = bad." --Shahryar

"All power corrupts absolutely!" -- thanatokephaloides

Azazello's picture

@thanatokephaloides
The clap don't hurt but the blue balls do.
To the tune of Not Fade Away.

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We wanted decent healthcare, a living wage and free college.
The Democrats gave us Biden and war instead.

orlbucfan's picture

@thanatokephaloides Botoxed brain disease is another story. Rec'd!!

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Inner and Outer Space: the Final Frontiers.

Centaurea's picture

@snoopydawg That's exactly the point in the SOTU at which Pelosi made that exaggerated clapping motion. It was clear to me at the time that she was indicating her wholehearted approval and agreement with Trump's pronouncement about socialism.

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

snoopydawg's picture

@Centaurea

The one showing Nancy and Warren both clapping with big grins on their faces when he said that "socialism will never come to this country." It was his "universal health care will never ever happen" moment. Neither of their supporters had a problem with their doing that when a decade earlier that was what they wanted SMDH...

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

snoopydawg's picture

@Centaurea

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

@QMS
Private police, private fire departments, private roads, private armies, no government control of anything. We had that system once. It was called "The Dark Ages"

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@The Voice In the Wilderness
The Libertarian Dream already happened in Somalia and Aghanistan in the 1990's.
No government to oppress people.

Or maybe they mean Corporate Controlled, with shareholders collecting dividends. That Libertarian Dream already happened as well.
It was called the Congo Free State.

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TheOtherMaven's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

The Dark Ages were even worse, warlordism on a petty, local scale, "kings" on every hilltop like Colonels in Kentucky and no central authority whatsoever.

"Private armies", in Britain during the Middle Ages, led to the Wars of the Roses due to a breakdown in central authority (very weak king, very strong ambitious warlord-wannabes). About the best one can say about Henry VII Tudor is that he put a stop to all that by abolishing private armies (thereafter only the Crown could have large numbers of armed retainers).

Elsewhere, the widespread use of mercenaries wrecked the remnants of the Byzantine Empire and left Italy bleeding from a thousand cuts, to give just two examples.

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There is no justice. There can be no peace.

@TheOtherMaven
In one of my history books a story is told of that era.

A famous English mercenary was walking across a courtyard when a monk called out, "Peace be unto you, Brother!".
The merc turned and said, "What have I ever done to you that you should wish such a thing on me! War is my bread and butter, Peace would would be a calamity!"

How many corporate boards would say the same today?

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@TheOtherMaven
The Middle Ages had governments, weak ones, growing stronger. The Dark ages had governments in name only, like a Roman Emperor who might or might not control the immediate surroundings of sacked Rome. Mostly there were wandering bands of freebooters and thugs. Germanic "tribes" whose actual ethnic makeup varied as they grew from recruitment and amalgamation of other tribes. These Germanic tribes were generally a mixture of actual Germans and Huns, Alans and other steppe peoples and the descendants of the steppe peoples by captured women. Attila, IIRC having 42 wives with which he performed a ceremony. God only knows how many less formal women. Of course, you don't say no to Attila the Hun. If you did, it would just earn you a belt in the mouth or worse.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

@QMS

left" is that the real right doesn't pretend to give a rat's whisker about being referred to as extremists.

(Why, yes, thank you; I an aware of the "no true Scotsman" logical fallacy.)

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20% Don’t Know the meaning of socialism? So, the other 80% do? I’m highly skeptical.

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Idolizing a politician is like believing the stripper really likes you.

SnappleBC's picture

It's on my to-do list to do some actual scholarly reading about both neoliberalism and socialism but I haven't corrected the gaps in my knowledge yet. Then again, I honestly don't much care about the labels since whatever words we use will be perverted by the oligarchs. I find label wars to be counter-productive and instead I prefer to talk about issues. I don't care if someone likes "socialism" or not. I just want to know if they like their current health care choices and if not, what would they like to do to improve the situation.

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A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

The Aspie Corner's picture

in socialism or capitalism is "Who will the government serve, capital (Rich assholes) or workers (You and me)?" As has been the case for close to 500 years, now, government has served capital world-wide for the most part. This has been the case for the US Empire's entire existence as well. Make no mistake, the concessions made by capital in the 20th century were purely out of self-preservation (You know, because 1917 and the gains made after that still make them shit the bed). Once they killed the Soviet Union and sold it piece by piece back to Russian Oligarchs, the Great Rollback that began in 1968 was accelerated.

Nowadays, anything even one hair to the left of Dipshit for the Republicans or George Dubya Bush for the Democrats is akin to the DPRK.

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Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

@The Aspie Corner

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

Pluto's Republic's picture

...define socialism.

I'm worried about the 80 percent who think they can.

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____________________
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

Centaurea's picture

@Pluto's Republic I respect the honesty and self-awareness of those who admitted to not knowing.

It's interesting that fewer of the more highly educated folks were willing to make that admission, even though they clearly should have

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

snoopydawg's picture

@Centaurea

Looks like I didn't know what it was exactly. I've repeated the part about the police and fire departments.. the only thing I know is that capitalism has failed the 99%

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

socialism is an economic system that defines people as people, and not just consumer/labor/idiot voter most other economic systems reserve for people.

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thanatokephaloides's picture

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, even though anyone can open a dictionary and read it's real meaning.

Ride easy there, cowgirls and cowboys! Smile

While Bernie Sanders' advocacy of New Deal policies may not really be classic socialism, his F.O.A.D. to the ilk of Fox News -- "OK, so it's socialism! And your point would be?" -- has accomplished one very important thing indeed. He managed, essentially single-handedly, to restore the word "socialism" to polite adult conversation in the USA. We may not all agree on the exact meaning of the word, not necessarily due to ignorance, but due to the fact of 50+ years of complete censorship of word and concept alike from American political discourse. This will readjust as "socialism" re-enters the language as a respectable term.

As you know, gjohnsit, you and I differ with respect to the use of that term; I do consider "social democratic" entities as falling well inside the socialist spectrum. (The "social" in "social democratic" comes from "socialism".) In particular, the Scandinavian nations do seem to be very adept indeed at regulating capitalist businesses so that at the end of the day all the nation's resources are used for the benefit of all the nation's people. Your Oxford English Dictionary citation supports this view. This does not surprise me as this was how Great Britain implemented socialism in the years between World War II and the unfortunate ascension of Margaret Thatcher to power in 1979. The government owned certain industries and regulated the rest.

So at least some Americans have some idea as to what's going on.

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.

Not so. You and our fellow c99ers are doing a fine job of just that!

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"US govt/military = bad. Russian govt/military = bad. Any politician wanting power = bad. Anyone wielding power = bad." --Shahryar

"All power corrupts absolutely!" -- thanatokephaloides

@thanatokephaloides
Thanks for saying eruditely what I said probably very clumsily upstream.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

thanatokephaloides's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness @The Voice In the Wilderness

Exactly! Thanks for saying eruditely what I said probably very clumsily upstream.

Why, thank you! [blush!]

Wink

edit: changed brackets on the word "blush" -- the word wasn't appearing

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"US govt/military = bad. Russian govt/military = bad. Any politician wanting power = bad. Anyone wielding power = bad." --Shahryar

"All power corrupts absolutely!" -- thanatokephaloides

Cassiodorus's picture

@thanatokephaloides Denmark and Norway are net oil exporters, Sweden the largest per capita exporter of weapons.

Yep, still capitalist.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Cassiodorus

Scandinavian social democracy: Denmark and Norway are net oil exporters, Sweden the largest per capita exporter of weapons.

Yep, still capitalist.

Ah, the beauty of it all: One can be capitalist and socialist at the same time. Examples abound in northwestern Europe; since Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair removed Britain from this club, and Emmanuel Macron's attempts to do likewise in France, the main successful proponents are the Scandinavian countries. Maybe it's all the Viking influence: one needs to use common public goods (the Vikings' longships) to generate profits (raiding and trading).

Wink

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"US govt/military = bad. Russian govt/military = bad. Any politician wanting power = bad. Anyone wielding power = bad." --Shahryar

"All power corrupts absolutely!" -- thanatokephaloides

Cassiodorus's picture

@thanatokephaloides it's mere social democracy.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

@Cassiodorus the U.S.S.R. was one of the largest arms exporters.
U.S.S.R. = capitalism?

It is a mistake to label everything you don't like about the world as a result of capitalism. As the Berlin Wall was being torn down the preponderance of free flowing water in Poland was too polluted for industrial use.

You could make a good case that the U.S.today is corporatist rather than capitalist.

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@thanatokephaloides

his F.O.A.D. to the ilk of Fox News -- "OK, so it's socialism! And your point would be?" -- has accomplished one very important thing indeed. He managed, essentially single-handedly, to restore the word "socialism" to polite adult conversation in the USA.

Because of Sanders you can now speak the word Voldermort out loud.
I mean Socialism.
Same thing.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

I'm glad you mentioned this, @thanatokephaloides .

We may not all agree on the exact meaning of the word, not necessarily due to ignorance, but due to the fact of 50+ years of complete censorship of word and concept alike from American political discourse.

It makes me sad to realize that an idea that we should have been fluent in was denied to Americans by their betters. After all, most nations incorporate socialism as a ubiquitous part of their social contract with one another. Institutional sharing is key to the success of any civilization, great and small alike. Capitalism is a very recent experimental twist against the backdrop of the hundreds of thousands of years of communal reliance, which lies at the foundation of modern human evolution and the continuing survival of the species. Capitalism has been increasingly destructive, and our inability to carefully regulate it to consistently serve the greater good may have, in fact, doomed human survival on this planet.

In any event, the populations of other nations don't seem to have trouble understanding socialism in all of its common manifestations. It's the thing that sustains life and preserves culture in large groups. Unless the population rate is so blindingly high and chaotic that you don't notice a wide-spread death rate from neglect. Little wonder there is an irrational dogma to outlaw abortion and promote forced births in the US. It disguises the evil waste of life that comes with capitalism.

One wonders what else is clipped and severed from our discourse to turn us into a society of complacent topiary — distorting our understanding of the world and triggering prejudice.

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____________________
Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.
— Voltaire

snoopydawg's picture

@Pluto's Republic

One wonders what else is clipped and severed from our discourse to turn us into a society of complacent topiary — distorting our understanding of the world and triggering prejudice.

Whenever they want to change the direction of the country they don't do it so that it affects the current generation. Oh no. They are always looking for changing it for the ones that come after. Just take social security for an example. Our generation knows that it's a good thing and that with a few tweaks it can last for some time. But the younger generation is saying that they are paying for something that they will never have.

The PTB have perfected how they deliver their propaganda so that people always seem to buy it.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

thanatokephaloides's picture

Who doesn't want to have a voice at their work? Who doesn't want to feel empowered in their life? Who doesn't want to have their vote count? Who doesn't want to have the old and sick taken care of? Who doesn't want to see an end to our wars of choice?

That's socialism, and I think society hungers for it.

This!

Give rose

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"US govt/military = bad. Russian govt/military = bad. Any politician wanting power = bad. Anyone wielding power = bad." --Shahryar

"All power corrupts absolutely!" -- thanatokephaloides

karl pearson's picture

Too bad we don't have someone like President Harry Truman around today. He had a way of explaining things and wasn't afraid to do so.

Socialism is a scareword they have hurled at every advance the people have made in the last 20 years. Socialism is what they called public power. Socialism is what they called social security. Socialism is what they called farm price supports. Socialism is what they called bank deposit insurance. Socialism is what they called the growth of free and independent labor organizations. Socialism is their name for almost anything that helps all the people.
HARRY S. TRUMAN, speech, Oct. 10, 1952

Read more at http://www.notable-quotes.com/t/truman_harry_s.html#md9Co2gKBRrjmHOT.99

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@karl pearson
IIRC, he responded with "I tell the truth and they think it's Hell".

To paraphrase more succinctly, anything that isn't laissez-faire capitalism is socialism.

EDIT:

HARRY S. TRUMAN, speech, Oct. 10, 1952

I was entering second grade when he made that speech. The USA has certainly devolved.

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I've seen lots of changes. What doesn't change is people. Same old hairless apes.

karl pearson's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness I was in my baby bed when he made that speech; however, my mom loved Harry and I heard a lot of Truman stories growing up. Her favorite saying was, "Well, you might as well say it, as think it." Truman would have approved. LOL

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SnappleBC's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

But as we all know, they have no interest in the "free market". It seems to me that the global financial crisis demonstrates that clearly. If we actually were implementing free market capitalism, not a single business on Wall Street or ANY major capital business anywhere in the world would still exist. That was their exact justification with "too big to fail". I was never clear on the justification for "too big to jail" though - lol.

Capitalism died in 2008 and it was only socialism which breathed life back into it. The elite very much like socialism, so long as it selectively only benefits the elite. Republican voters also adore socialism when it benefits them. Just look at the concept of "farm subsidies" as an example.

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A lot of wanderers in the U.S. political desert recognize that all the duopoly has to offer is a choice of mirages. Come, let us trudge towards empty expanse of sand #1, littered with the bleached bones of Deaniacs and Hope and Changers.
-- lotlizard

snoopydawg's picture

@SnappleBC

The elite very much like socialism, so long as it selectively only benefits the elite.

The corporations have no problem with socialism and they have been getting it forever. Why Amazon needs to ask and then receive millions in tax breaks when Bezos is so f'cking rich. Same with the Walmart heirs. They get huge subsidies and tax breaks and then they pay their workers low wages so that they qualify for government social programs. This is double dipping in my opinion. The government is helping out monetarily on both ends. Big pharma is also on the government teat. They get money for research and then they charge us as much as they can get away with after we already own the products. Rinse and repeat..

Bernie has been talking about this for more than two years and he met with the heirs today.

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It is not until the tide goes out that you discover who has been swimming naked.

@SnappleBC
creating an artificial scarcity of goods, through the extremely weird invention of "intellectual property". in addition to the obvious perverse side effects, there is the less-often acknowledged incomprehensible waste of human time and other resources that goes into creating and managing "brands". imagine how different our entire society would be if:
A. Only human beings could own stock in corporations.
B. One corporation could own exactly one trademark.
C. Trademarks were non-transferable, and non-retirable -- a trademark lived and died with the corporation that created it.

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The earth is a multibillion-year-old sphere.
The Nazis killed millions of Jews.
On 9/11/01 a Boeing 757 (AA77) flew into the Pentagon.
AGCC is happening.
If you cannot accept these facts, I cannot fake an interest in any of your opinions.

Azazello's picture

I'm not sure I could define socialism, or capitalism either.
The two terms are used so often and so loosely that they make rational discourse impossible.
The way I see it, there is no such thing as a "socialist system" or a "capitalist system".
Every government I know of has both capitalist and socialist elements. They vary according to which predominates and to what degree.

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We wanted decent healthcare, a living wage and free college.
The Democrats gave us Biden and war instead.

Cassiodorus's picture

@Azazello If the people as a whole own the means of production, it's socialist.

If the means of production is owned privately, it's capitalist.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

@Cassiodorus where the people as a whole have owned the means of production. There are cases where the state has owned the means of production, but in those cases I would not consider the state a reasonable approximation of the people.

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Cassiodorus's picture

@FuturePassed We should stop using the concept y'know.

Or not.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

Azazello's picture

@Cassiodorus
How 19th century.
Next you'll be telling me about the "bourgeoisie" and the "proletariat".
Can you clearly define any of these terms ?

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We wanted decent healthcare, a living wage and free college.
The Democrats gave us Biden and war instead.

Cassiodorus's picture

@Azazello The means of production = whatever human organization currently exists for producing everyday household items. Factories, farms, extraction operations, recycling operations, construction sites.

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"The future is inside us/ It's not somewhere else." -- Radiohead

mimi's picture

... that everbody gets the same rights to voice his opinions in print or on the streets and nobody gets the permission - just because he accumulated more wealth - to buy out equal rights and basic equal land property ownership (everyone has to live somewhere) and health care and equal educational opportunities for everyone. If they are allowed to buy that out, 'equality' loses its meaning. The dilemma is that enforcing these political goals, is authoritarian and limits freedoms.
.

Uh, oh, and who wants to be an authoritarian, aside from the billioniares and millionaires, who make democracy and freedom a fake thing?

Who am I to know, ok, then what is socialism? I hate those discussions, because I never get out of them with more understanding than I had before.

I agree with azzazello's comment.

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mimi

@mimi
socialistic policies, like you describe, and actual socialism is who has the power.

In the former you are granted what you need. In the latter you decide what you need.

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mimi's picture

@gjohnsit
voting doesn't do it, right?

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mimi

@mimi

voting doesn't do it, right?

Controlling the means of production and distribution would do it.
Economic power becomes political power.
The people who actually do the work deciding what to do with their work.
It's both a radical concept, and simple common sense at the same time.

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mimi's picture

@gjohnsit

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mimi

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mimi's picture

@gjohnsit
if one percent can buy out the degree of cooperativeness between the 99 percent.

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mimi

politicians, mass media, et al.: The Big Lie.

We are a capitalist nation with some programs that benefit our nation as a whole. I refer to them either as social programs or public programs. These programs include things like traffic lights, public schools and Social Security.

All the rest is nonsense dating back the nineteenth century and propagandized to the nth degree during the Cold War and beyond. Of course, we are resurrecting the Russia! nonsense now.

"Democracy" is another words politicians misuse, some from ignorance and some because they know that believing we live in a democracy gives us a warm, fuzzy feeling. It also keeps us from aspiring/demanding to live in a democracy.

Face it: We live in a plutonomy* with widespread suffrage, posing as a plutocracy posing as a republic.

*The Citicorp Plutonomy memos said, among many other things, that we are more a plutonomy than a plutocracy.

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mimi's picture

@HenryAWallace
tried to look it up and now wonder what is the difference between a plutonomy and an oligarchy. I have found comparisons between a plutocracy vs an oligarchy, but none between 'plutonomy' and 'oligarchy'.

Is it ok to ask?

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mimi

essays. This that you wrote really should be an op-ed at NYT, WP...

But I guess informing the public -- there's some journalist code or something against that.

Thanks!

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Orwell: Where's the omelette?

Not Henry Kissinger's picture

That to me is the biggest misconception that needs to be overcome.

For instance, how often do we hear arguments against Medicare for All that claim it will limit your choice of doctor or facility - as if that doesn't happen already.

The only difference is that under MfA, you have the freedom not to have to go bankrupt for the privilege of your 'choice'.

Crack the 'loss of liberty' chestnut, and Socialism would be a lot more popular.

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The current working assumption appears to be that our Shroedinger's Cat system is still alive. But what if we all suspect it's not, and the real problem is we just can't bring ourselves to open the box?

thanatokephaloides's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger

Crack the 'loss of liberty' chestnut, and Socialism would be a lot more popular.

Cracking that chestnut is the one thing Bernie Sanders has reliably done for the progressive cause.

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"US govt/military = bad. Russian govt/military = bad. Any politician wanting power = bad. Anyone wielding power = bad." --Shahryar

"All power corrupts absolutely!" -- thanatokephaloides

Unabashed Liberal's picture

According to The Boy Who Cried Socialism, anything "socialism" is bad.
"Socialism" became a catch-all term. Communism, Fascism, Feminism, Atheism, Paganism,

As someone who's been around many native Southerners--especially, white rural evangelicals, and, to a large extent, many older religious African-Americans--my guess is that running against so-called 'socialism' will be relatively effective.

Remember, these same folks don't equate their Medicare with socialism. Why? Because they--and their Mammies and Pappies--all had/have it! Biggrin So, that doesn't count.

Seriously, a lot of this kind of thinking sells dues to churches pushing 'fear' of socialism taking away religious freedoms. To some extent, think this will sell in parts of the Plains states, too. (older cohorts) In most of the other regions (of the US), it's probably dead-in-the-water.

Mollie

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Everyone thinks they have the best dog, and none of them are wrong.