tl;dr: Written after hearing the term “socialism” used once too often by some conservatives and libertarians as a synonym for “things we don’t like”, and by some liberals and progressives as a synonym for “things we like”.
My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about socialism. All right, here is how I feel about socialism:
If when you say socialism you mean that system in which government controls the means of production, distribution, and exchange, the devil’s brew of political interference in economic decisions large and small, the poison scourge of cronyism and corruption, the bloody monster of central planning, that defiles the market, dethrones economic reason, destroys the home and workplace, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil regimes that have toppled millions of men and women from the pinnacle of righteous and gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.
But, if when you say socialism you mean the provision of a robust safety net, the philosophic quest for social justice, the positive externalities created when good people get together in support of each other, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean a basic measure of economic security that gives Christmas cheer to workers and their families; if you mean the stimulating spending that puts the spring in the stagnant economy in the frosty depths of depression; if you mean the system which enables men and women to magnify their in-born potential, and their economic well-being, and to have some measure of protection against life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that system, the taxes of which pour into our treasuries untold billions of dollars, which are used to provide universal health care for our little children, our neighbors with disabilities, our aged and infirm, and any one of us caught up in calamities we could neither foresee nor forestall; to build highways and hospitals and schools and provide the foundations for an advanced liberal democratic society and capitalist economy, then certainly I am for it.
This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.
For further exploration
For a good example of people being confused about supposed “socialism”, see the following:
- “Socialism’s Rising Popularity Threatens America’s Future”. A National Review writer worries about the increased appeal of “socialism” to American voters.
- “ACFI survey reveals details about the ideology gap separating Americans”. A press release summarizing the results of a survey by the American Culture and Faith Institute in which 37% of those surveyed preferred “socialism” to “capitalism”, including 54% of self-described liberals, 37% of self-described moderates, and 23% of self-described conservatives.