Barack Obama is a socialist. This health care plan is socialist. The Democrats want to force their socialist plans down our throats. OK, America, get ready for socialism. I've been hearing that a lot, these days. We're going to hear it a lot more. Even so, repetition, even at great volume, does not make a lie the truth. Barack Obama is no socialist. I should know.
I am a socialist.
I hope you didn't just stop reading.
What? You're looking at me like that's a bad thing. Well, you're partly right. The word has been used to cover a lot of different views, some of them not so good. The Nazis claimed to be a National Socialist Party. Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro: the list goes on. Lots of people have claimed to be socialists. This doesn't make it true, though.
What Hitler, Lenin, and Mao stood for was not socialism, but forms of state-run capitalism with an extreme nationalist component. Not a socialism I endorse. Not, in my opinion, socialism at all.
No, the word socialist covers a rather wide spectrum of ideas. You wouldn't get that idea from the media, though. You would think that all socialists agree; or that we are a bunch of secret societies, plotting to take over America through our co-conspirators, the Democrats.
In fact, many of us don't like the Democratic Party very much at all. Our views aren't secret either. Go ahead, have a look: feel the love for the Obama administration. Wherever Barack Obama may stand politically, he's no socialist. Just ask a socialist.
My own views fall somewhere between the DSA, who seem to think electing Democrats worthwhile, and the SPUSA, who seem a bit attached to old-fashioned Marxist revolution. For myself, I don't think a classless society possible or desirable. I don't believe in abolition of personal property. I don't believe the state should run everything. I'm certainly not an atheist. I often find myself in agreement with Bernie Sanders. He's about the only member of Congress who even comes close to representing me.
On the other hand, when I see individuals with a net worth exceeding the GDP of medium-size countries, it seems that perhaps there might be some injustices that need to be addressed. Doubtless, there will always be rich and poor; yet it seems that the disparity could, and should, be less. Perhaps I am wrong, but that is what I believe.
I find right-wing references to Big Brother amusing. I'm sure you know why. George Orwell was a socialist: a real one. Upton Sinclair, who wrote The Jungle back when E. Coli was considered a spice? A socialist: be sure to thank him whenever you see that USDA stamp. Most people don't know what happened to Helen Keller after the events of The Miracle Worker. Did you ever wonder? She went on to be quite active for women's rights and, you guessed it, socialism. Funny how this never came up in history class. I suppose it might give impressionable young people strange ideas.
Here's one of my favorites. Ready? Albert Einstein: socialist. Read his essay, Why Socialism, from the May 1949 Monthly Review here. I think there is a lot to consider. You needn't agree with it. I'm not sure I agree with his every point, here or elsewhere. Still, I find it interesting. The man whose name has become almost synonymous with genius was a socialist. Yet very few people know this. I wonder why?
Very Truly Yours,