The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA


December 18, 2009

Socialism: A nasty word only in the United States


Socialism – the enemy of America, so it’s been preached to us by business and political leaders, by editorialists and letter writers. The word is wildly misused and thrown about, like a cuss word against anything vaguely liberal, by the thoughtless. Its strict meaning is the ownership of the means of production by the state, not much practiced by any Western democracies these days, except for the ownership of some transportation companies.

Capitalism is its antagonist, a term pretty disgraced by its ruthless, exploitive history of workers and the public in both Europe and America, now replaced by nice sounding terms like “free market.”

Socialism isn’t a nasty word in much of the rest of the world. In every Western European country, the governing or main opposition party is the traditional socialist party, “social democrats,” or labor party in Britain. Now, they are mainly capitalist, but with strong roots in protecting the majority of their workers’ wages and benefits.

Some socialist countries, such as the Soviet Union, were repressive dictatorships, but most socialist parties emphasize the “democratic” in their names.

On the other hand, many capitalist countries turned into brutal military oppressions at the behest of their business elites.

Here, the Democrats are supposed to be the party of the ordinary people and the workers, but their dependence on corporate campaign contributions makes them as much a party of capitalism and business, as we saw recently with their massive support of the bankers and their bowing to the private insurance and drug company interests on the health-care bill.

It is deemed unpatriotic in our country to believe that anyone, anywhere, has a life as good as Americans do, that we are a classless society in some sense, that people get what they work for, and that socialism rewards those who are shiftless and irresponsible.

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