The Problem with “Socialism”

The Problem with “Socialism”

There are a lot of good things about “socialism” as an economic system. For instance, in this country some of the positive “socialist” advances have included Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Public Housing, Credit Unions, Agricultural Coops, Housing Coops, Food Coops, Worker-Owned Business Coops. Then why such angst around the term “socialism” ?

We think we’ve figured out the problem. It is trauma associated with a word–based on one’s personal experiences and/or perceptions and conditioning. In this case the word “socialism” is used by manipulative politicians and pundits to scare the heck out of those who have been traumatized by a version of socialism, or of those who have not experienced it but have the perception of such trauma based on false propaganda. In order to help dispel these traumas and myths, let’s first simply define the term and it’s versions, and then abandon it for a new less threatening and manipulated term. Socialism is an economic system and not a political or governing system, just as capitalism is–both dealing with means and ownership of production, with private/public ownership of common spaces, with regulation of currencies, and other economic issues. When combined with a governing system there are basically two types of socialist countries–Authoritarian Socialist (e.g. Russia, China, Cuba) or Democratic Socialist (most of Europe, Canada, and, growing in the U.S.). Since now many countries are combining socialist policies and practices with capitalist ones, there are now several versions of capitalism—-Authoritarian Capitalist (Russia, China, Eastern European countries, and to some extent the US where there are not free but government manipulated markets favoring the elite, the wealthy, and corporations), and what we will call Libertarian or Democratic Capitalism (with less government market control and truly free markets; most of Europe, and to a lesser extent, the US). So what we are seeing is a mixture of the best parts of socialism and capitalism, especially successful in western Europe–where there is less fear, manipulation and propaganda relating to socialism (since it has worked there for so long and so well), so maybe it is time for us to coin new terms to describe optimum economic and political systems in order to free people’s minds and fears—perhaps: Democratic Social Capitalism, or Democratic Capital Socialism, or Libertarian Social Capitalism, or Libertarian Capital Socialism. Just some thoughts on how we can take the “boogeyman” out of economics and politics and start to learn how to unite and work together rather than be divided by old terms and rivalries.

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