There was a very interesting article on Answers Everyday about the difference between socialism and communism. I’m not sure the writer answered the question succinctly but he certainly shared some fascinating history about how the United States has followed socialist policies from the very start of the nation. Why are people so alarmed about Bernie Sanders’ claim to be a Democratic Socialist?
A few years back Newsweek ran a story in which they said “We are all socialists now”. Of course, it was about the government intervention to save the economy during the Great Recession, which everyone feared would become a new Great Depression. And there is nothing great about recession or depression in economics.
My take on socialism is that it represents a communal effort to help people without taking ownership over everything. People quote the dictionary definition about “state control of production” but they conveniently forget that the US government controlled all production during the Second World War. You cannot get more socialist than the United States. It just hasn’t happened.
Communism began as a benign way for poor people to share what few resources they had without worrying about who owned what. But the 1800s radical leftists took up the words “socialism” and “communism” and used them to describe the redistribution of wealth, or the deprivation of the wealthy classes of Europe. This has been tried before at least as far back as the days of the Roman Republic, when the Gracchi attempted to help the poor people.
The Romans were not very fond of socialism because it came at the expense of the wealthy. What I think Bernie Sanders is saying is that we are already paying taxes to the government so let’s use that tax money wisely. He is not asking anyone to elect him to be the next Stalin or Mao. There will be no Sanders dictatorship after we elect him President.
You can write all the gibberish you want to share but if you want to convince me that there is a problem with socialism you’ll have to do far better than to point to Stalin and Mao. They were among the most evil men in history but they weren’t really socialists. They were dictators masquerading as socialists. Both men created new wealthy classes within their societies to keep themselves in power.
Real socialism is structured to help people without taking away their property. Communism does call for the elimination of private ownership of wealth but no one is proposing that we give up our mortgages and car loans. Sanders just wants to stop spending our tax dollars on corporate welfare that makes billionaires even wealthier. Instead, he wants to give us universal education and healthcare through existing programs. And compared to the trillions of dollars that we pay in taxes every year, his programs would cost at most a few hundred billion dollars. That is the worst-case scenario.
Oddly enough he wants the wealthy Wall Street investment fund managers to foot part of the bill for these programs. Isn’t it about time we stopped paying for their vacations and bailouts anyway?