Maybe “Socialism” Isn’t So Bad
April 9, 2009, 12:15 pm
Filed under: Ian | Tags: ,

karl_marxA somewhat surprising poll was just released showing that only 53% of Americans “believe capitalism is better than socialism.” Amongst the under-thirty set, the two enjoy almost equal support, 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided.

Despite this striking number, however, I’m disinclined to think that the Workers World Party will pick up any seats in Congress anytime soon.  Had the question been phrased “do you support nationalizing the means of production and requiring government to distribute the spoils of labor?” I doubt that actual socialism would have fared particularly well.

Rather, I see this poll as even more evidence of how widespread the American people’s rejection of conservative values has become.  Ever since Sarah Palin ceased to be an attractive-but-unknown face from Alaska, conservatives have railed against any attempt to use government spending to mitigate the present economic downturn, labeling it “Socialism!”  The alternative, they say, is to double-down on George W. Bush’s policies, cut taxes on the super-rich, and rely on the invisible hand of the market to make everything all better again.

In other words, the American people have been subjected to a months-long campaign which defines President Obama’s popular policies to improve the economy as “socialism,” and George W. Bush’s disastrous policies as “not socialism.”  Is it any shock, then, that many Americans no longer find the word “socialism” very scary?

One irony of this turn of events is that the conservative campaign to redefine Keynesian economics as “socialism” may have the effect of legitimizing actual socialists.  Not that long ago, anyone who was properly labeled as a socialist was appropriately excluded from the American economic debate—virtually no one, including myself, has any interest in nationalizing the entire private sector.  Now that conservatives have associated the word with the popular President Obama, however, I fear that real socialists now have an opportunity to latch on to the President’s popularity and ride it to greater relevance.


5 Comments so far
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Why the “fear” regarding “real socialists”? Is American-style buccaneer capitalism such a hothouse bloom that it cannot compete with the thorny weed of Marx? I propose that capitalism can only be _strengthened_ by an infusion of socialist ideals- meaning those set forth by “real socialists,” of whom there is precisely one in all three branches of US Government combined: Senator Bernie Sanders.

Comment by Chris

This is hilarious– and no doubt true. Because Obama is so popular, when he gets called a “socialist,” people go, ‘well, maybe that’s not so bad.’

Obama is now legitimizing socialism– what a great backfire against the righties.

Comment by Jim C.

[…] A comment from “Ian” at the blog Overruled: […]

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We’ve seen that capitalism is a scam to steal our money and give it to rich poeople.

So a scam of stealing our money and giving it to poor people doesn’t sound nearly so bad. At least they actually need the money.

Comment by soullite

Libertarianism not Capitalism is the opposite of Socialism.. Or to be more precise Feral is the opposite of Socialized. The Orwellian newspeak where words were given their opposite meaning made it very popular for dictatorships to put Socialist in their name to lay claim where they had none.

Actual Socialized States are like Socialized Children, acting responsibly with others, and holding themselves and others accountable if they should slip from honorable behavior. Is there a range for discussion as to what that means? certainly! But the Libertarian concept that each person act as they see opportunity with no thought or responsibility to the needs or concerns of others is the very definition of Feral, and as Somalia is a poster society for Feral, we know how well that works out.

Comment by FreeDem

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