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Let’s Clear the Air About Socialism

Through decades of lies and misconceptions, let's look at what really is, and isn't, Leftism.

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Let’s Clear the Air About Socialism

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“Socialism: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community.”

 

With the rise of the Radical Right and Trump-ism within American politics, it has also seen the mainstream rebirth of the American left. And before you keep reading, I am not talking about Liberalism; Socialism is NOT Obama, Clinton, Cuomo, or any other mainstream democrat.

 

I am directly writing about socialism, which in any other country other than America mostly, is what the “Left,” would be described as. What that means is that the means of production (think a facility or resource in which a good is made) is owned by the public. Through decades of Capitalist propaganda, this has been morphed and transformed into something that is not only incorrectly thought of but also dangerous to openly believe in.

 

In this column, I will clarify and show the biggest misconceptions within Socialism.

 

  • Not all Socialists are Communists; Marx’s words aren’t 100% agreed upon

 

This alone is the biggest misconception about Socialists, allow me to explain. Communism is the end goal of Socialism according to Marx. It is defined as, “a political theory derived from Karl Marx, advocating class war and leading to a society in which all property is publicly owned and each person works and is paid according to their abilities and needs.” It’s important to clarify that Communism does not happen overnight, it is a process that must begin from Capitalism, and gradually go further left until a utopia can be formed.

 

But here’s where the kicker comes in: not all Socialists believe in nor even want Communism.

Image result for socialism

 

Socialism or Leftism (as I prefer to call it) is one of the most dynamic and diverse ideas out there. Think of Socialism/Leftism as a box, and within it, you have Anarchism, Stalinism, Maoism, Mutualism, Trotskyism, and so many more. Here’s an easy way to look at Socialism; in Capitalism, the same concept exists. You have Conservatives, Liberals, Libertarians, etc.; they all believe in Capitalism, however, the way they feel that society and the state should run differs.

 

Stalinists, for example, believe in a much stronger role of the state (think of the U.S.S.R,) while Anarchists want to abolish the state entirely (think of Revolutionary Catalonia.) Take any two Socialists and ask about their beliefs and you’ll almost definitely get two different answers.

 

  • In a Socialist society, not everyone gets paid the same amount

 

Socialism is about abolishing private property (which I’ll get more into later) and the resulting system of commodity exchange that arises from it. Money is a universally traded commodity, so it too would not exist in a Socialist society. So wage-labor wouldn’t exist either, and thus no one even gets paid.

 

That doesn’t mean people won’t work though! “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” is the commonly known Marx phrase. Socialism arises when Capitalist society hits the fan, and just as people do in calamities and disaster, they organize to meet everyone’s needs.

 

This is another lie made up to scare people away from the ideology. Look back at the definition on top of this article, does it say anything about equal pay? The only thing Socialists want is to eliminate involuntary hierarchy and push the ownership of the means of production to the working class.

 

Karl Marx, the most well-known Socialist figure, was even against equal pay. He argued that everyone should contribute what they can and take what they need because of it. In no way should a doctor get paid the same as a McDonald’s worker, but this does not take away that they contribute to society, albeit in different roles. Nor does this mean that one shouldn’t be allowed to live an enjoyable life.

 

The only thing equal within socialism is how people are treated. Regardless of skin color, age, intelligence, gender, etc., everyone is valid and treated as such.

 

  • Taxes and Big Government DO NOT equal Socialism

 

If you really want to test how someone is about political theory, ask them about their opinions on Socialism; if they even mention big government and/or taxes, immediately disregard what they’re saying. As mentioned before, Socialism CAN have elements of big government and/or taxes, but if you asked an Anarchist why they believe in big government, they would think you’re kidding.

 

Bernie Sanders has largely contributed to this confusion, unfortunately. In his 2016 bid for the White House, he would describe his policy of free college and healthcare as “Democratic Socialism.” While I still believe he is actually a Socialist in heart, what he was describing was not Democratic Socialism, but in fact, was Social Democracy. I know the wording seems similar enough, but I can assure you the ideologies are very different.

Image result for socialism unity

 

Democratic Socialism claims a Capitalist society can transform into a Socialist one through voting and reform; this goes against Socialists who claim the only way for a transformation into a Socialist society is through revolution. Social Democracy, is the belief that Capitalism itself is salvageable, but this can only be done so through heavy regulation of the economy, along with a large welfare state (think of free college or healthcare.)

 

These are radically different ideas, so while you may think the next time you hear about a tax raise that Socialism has struck once again, try to remember that you’re wrong.

 

  • Socialists DO NOT want to take your stuff

 

Once again, this is another myth made up to scare people about criticizing Capitalism. People within the Leftist community often joke about this, but to clarify, no, we do not want your Aerosmith records, toothbrush, or any of your personal property.

 

There is a large difference between private property and personal property; personal property is the things you own AKA your house, computer, phone, whatever things you own that don’t directly create a profit off of others. Private property would be considered anything used by the upper class to create profit from the working class.

 

Conclusion:

 

I hope that out of all of this, perhaps one can learn something new. Socialism has played an integral part in forming our modern history, and you can bet your money that its influence is not going anywhere.

Image result for einstein socialism

 

And before you completely downplay this entire column, remember this quote from Fidel Castro, “They talk about the failure of socialism but where is the success of capitalism in Africa, Asia, and Latin America?” Martin Luther King Jr., a man who has an entire day dedicated to him in America, was a proud Democratic Socialist. Albert Einstein, one of the greatest minds ever, was also a Socialist, and the names just keep going on.

 

Helen Keller, George Orwell, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Pablo Picasso, Nelson Mandela, these people were large believers of the ideology, so try to take a moment and think outside what you have been taught, you might just discover that Leftism may be closer to you than you think.

About the Writer
Steven Keehner, Impact Staff

Steven Keehner is a journalism major with an unhealthy addiction to coffee and the band Oasis. Hailing from the mediocre town of Oyster Bay, New York,...

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