Big Government Is Not Socialism
I find it rather irritating to find most online comment references to socialism are so often wrong. The Democratic party is called socialist. President Obama has been accused of turning the United States into a socialist nightmare. The UN IPCC is supposedly seeking a new world order of international socialism. These are never cases of socialism. A powerful central government will usually not be socialist in the current world order, and yet that seems to be the impression suggested by many online comments. A large representative democracy can be controlled by those who manage the elections, through the purchase of their own representatives, so the leader will rarely achieve a socialist agenda, not capitalist, without confronting foreign interference by the United States.
Wikipedia offers a description of the origin and the simple definition of socialism:
The term "socialism" was created by Henri de Saint-Simon to contrast against the liberal doctrine of "individualism", which stressed that people act or should act as if they are in isolation from one another. The original socialists condemned liberal individualism as failing to address social concerns of poverty, social oppression, and gross inequality of wealth. They viewed liberal individualism as degenerating society into supporting selfish egoism that harmed community life through promoting a society based on competition. They presented socialism as an alternative to liberal individualism, that advocated a society based on cooperation.
Within a general framework, socialism is a society based on cooperation rather than on competition. Over the past two centuries there have been a number of attempts at a socialist society. The Wikipedia article about socialism also offers a general history of the evolution of various socialist models.
All too often when someone throws out the epithet 'socialism' they apparently envision a society where everyone gets the same income through communal sharing, regardless of relative contributions. This small community is called a commune, and that image does not apply to generic socialism. Communes always fail within a few generations. No matter how well matched the initial participants are, eventually some will realize their individual contributions are not the same but yet the payback remains the same; this unfairness always leads to discord in the group and its break up. I expect everyone realizes every human being has his/her own skill set and talents, as well as his/her own deficiencies. This is why the specialization of labor will contribute to the success of that team; if all team members were the same then the team would have difficulty with some challenges, having no one offering a different perspective with the solution. Cooperation within the team will achieve success while selfish competition can lead to discord.
Alternately, the term socialist in online comments apparently just refers to an established system of welfare. In a practical sense, welfare is a system to provide assistance to those unable to survive on their limited income. According to polls, a majority of Americans support that effort. However, I expect those opposing welfare are under the false impression that everyone on welfare has turned down a job with a good wage and will instead stay home and do nothing but collect government money. If someone truly believes that a person living in poverty has made the decision to be poor and destitute rather than choosing to work, then he/she really has a low opinion of a very large segment of the population. Conveniently, by hating this particular group of human beings, any feeling of empathy can be avoided so their maltreatment can then be ignored without feeling any remorse.
The autocratic form of central government has been the most common in human society, though there have been a few notable exceptions of the dispersed model. India started as a collection of 16 Mahajanapadas, essentially separate tribal communities. Switzerland is a confederation of cantons so it has no strong central government and has a long history of neutrality and of being active in peace keeping. The revolution of American colonies began with the Articles of Confederation, for the loose union of independent states; a subsequent Constitutional Convention switched to a strong central government. Therefore modern socialism arose during a time when strong central governments were common.
The modern socialist models arose during the Industrial Revolution, when businesses were abusing their workers (under paid, over worked, in terrible unsafe conditions) and the environment (unchecked pollution). The problem for the pursuit of a form of socialism will always be the transition from the autocratic business and political model to one of worker ownership of both.
There have been several notable 'socialist' central governments in the last century. Adolf Hitler and his Nationalist Socialist Party instituted many social programs, including massive public works projects, to get the German economy out of the Depression. However, the concentration of unopposed power in his dictatorship resulted in a ruthless police force, the German army invasions of adjacent countries to attain even more power, and a number of human atrocities like the Holocaust.
Russia's communism was a form of state socialism, where the state owned everything, with the concentration of all power in the Communist Party. This approach stressed not the importance of the individual, but rather the role of the individual as a member of a collective. Thus defined, individuals had only the right to freedom of expression if it safeguarded the interests of the collective. This is not the concept of free speech accepted in the West. Inefficiencies of central planning and the inevitable corruption with concentrated power eventually brought this approach to an end.
Fidel Castro instituted extensive social programs in his form of Communism but remained a dictator and would not relinquish his control to a democracy, so his control had to be maintained with police. As the United States issued a trade embargo on Cuba right after Castro took power (and it continues to this day) to make the Cubans suffer enough they would overthrow Castro, the Cuban people were somewhat brought together to fight this foreign interference. History cannot reveal whether Castro would have remained in power so long without the embargo, nor whether the economic model would have prospered.
Hugo Chavez was democratically elected in Venezuela and instituted extensive social reforms, somewhat modeled on Cuba. Again, like with Cuba, the United States has continually interfered with Venuzuela's politics, even supporting a coup in 2002 that was quickly defeated due to the popularity of Chavez. It remains to be seen how long this socialist government will persist in Venezuela. The United States continues to interfere, in the hopes of installing a form of government more in line with America's expectations - either open to predation by multinational corporations or managed by the local elite willing to submit to the West elite.
A strong central government, especially for those countries that somewhat follow the current political model of the United States with its representative democracy, will rarely be socialist because of the concentration of power within the elected representatives. By managing the election process, the elite can keep their supporters in power and thereby get policies in their favor and also get taxpayer funded subsidies, both to the detriment of the rest of the population. That election mechanism is how the United States has intervened in quite a few foreign elections, by funding the desired opposition and often also funding the demonstrators to help make the current unwanted government become unpopular. There are a number of countries in Europe having something of a socialist model, like some the Scandinavian countries, but apparently their conformance to American expectations means they continue unimpeded.
The United Nations has become a tool of the American financial and military empire. If a new world order comes about for the management of the world's generation of carbon dioxide, the current plans are not for elections by the world nor social programs to benefit the world's population. The controlled reduction in carbon dioxide generation must result in less power and therefore more misery for mankind, especially those countries already having limited power. This is definitely not socialism.
Just because a big government also offers welfare for the poor does not mean it is socialist. For example, the United States has a 'big' government and so in its 2014 federal budget $291 billion for family and children assistance, $149 billion for unemployment benefits, and $83 billion for housing assistance. This is in contrast to the $1 trillion for annual military spending. The US income inequality in 2013 is the highest since 1928, just before the Great Depression. America has the largest prison population in the world at over 2 million, almost 1% of all adults. America is also a country with a real unemployment rate around 23% when including those who gave up trying to find a job (this category was dropped from the official count in 1994) in this low wage economy, where most new jobs being created are near minimum wage. As of 2011, over 14% of the US population had income below the poverty level, with Native Americans and African Americans both over 25%.
There is absolutely nothing with President Obama or with the Democratic Party that is any way related to socialism. There might be talk that suggests something roughly similar to the concept but their actions and policies are never even close. There is never any action truly addressing poverty, social oppression, and the gross inequality of wealth.
By the way, there is a form of socialism that is the antithesis of big government. That approach is called libertarian socialism, though beyond the limited government it has a number of interpretations.
created - Apr. 2014
last change - 04/06/2014
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