Words That Frighten

For some time now, I have intended to write a post explaining the concept of “democratic socialism” – a term that has been demonized by republicans, used to scare voters away from certain democratic candidates – but obviously I haven’t yet gotten around to it. Meanwhile, our friend Hugh has revived an excellent post he wrote during President Obama’s presidency that makes some excellent points. Note what he says about Finland and also note that Finland ranks #1 on the World Happiness Index, while the U.S. is only at #19. Thank you, Hugh!!!

hughcurtler

I wrote this years ago and reblog it here because no one seems to have read it and the ideas I tried to clarify appear to be as relevant today as they were years ago — if not more so!

In every generation there are numerous words that take on pejorative overtones — many of which were never part of the term’s meaning in the first place. Not long ago, for instance, “discipline” was a positive concept, but it has become a bad thing thanks to progressive educators who ignore the fact that discipline is essential to clear thinking and the creation of art instead of junk. Another such term is “discrimination” which used to simply suggest the ability to separate the wheat from the chaff, good paintings and good music, for example, from random paint scattered on canvas or mere noise. Indeed, it was a sign of an educated…

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30 thoughts on “Words That Frighten

    • A redistribution of wealth is way past due in this country. Last year, some corporations paid less in taxes than the average worker making $50,000 per year. And, because of that, we have a huge national debt, and next year’s budget proposes cutting back on such things as food stamps and Medicaid that help people stay alive.

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        • I don’t know. Would we have thought Trump’s ideas would get him elected back in 2016? The world is no longer one I recognize, values have changed or flown out the window altogether. It may well be that the extreme left is the only thing that can counter the extreme right. I just don’t know.

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          • Sadly as I see it, in order to fight fire with fire, you have to deal with Trump in ugly fashion. He’s a coward at heart and one of the candidates will bring out that response if they push him hard enough. Give him a heavy dose of his own medicine. I think the Vice Presidential candidate for the Democrats can be a key figure in enacting such a strategy.

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            • You are right, but … isn’t it a damn shame it has devolved to the point that few even care anymore about a candidate’s platform, but only how down-and-dirty they can get on the campaign trail. I do agree … I was just telling somebody earlier that I would really like to know who each candidate would choose for their running mate, especially given that at least 4 of the candidates are septuagenarians!

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  1. Considering the antics of the leadership our so-called Socialist party Labour and their own version of the Trumpeteers, it’s small wonder those USA folk who are devotees of Fox and Limbaugh hearing the word ‘Socialism’ dash home, bar the doors and hide under the bed firearms a’quivering.
    Both sides of course deserve a severe ‘thwack around the ear’ole with a rolled up newspaper, they being different sides of the same coin.

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  2. The Finnish system would be perfect if promoted by most Democratic nations.In fact the Scandinavian systems with teaching, pensions and health care would all be worth looking at.They have a much higher ‘Happiness’ percentage than many in the West.
    Cwtch

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    • I am 100% in agreement with you on that! I would welcome a system such as any of the Scandinavian countries have! Capitalism, like every other system, looks great on paper, but once the owners of the means of production reach a certain level of wealth, greed takes over and … the rest of the people, those without wealth, some without opportunity … are forgotten. When Trump claims a “great” economy, he is only looking at the 1% for whom it is truly great. The rest of us plod along payday-to-payday, just hoping the car doesn’t break down, or the kids don’t get sick. Bah humbug.
      Cwtch

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  3. As if Capitalism is doing such a great job… the tag socialism gives the media something to latch onto to. They don’t need to make detailed arguments, just shout socialist and enough people go into meltdown. I think in the coming years the arguments over capitalism and socialism will be consigned to history. A new politics will evolve. One based on climate and the roads to protect it. If things continue to worsen then no doubt that new politics will have an extreme edge to it. A fight between conservative change or radical revolution.

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    • Capitalism, production of goods being based on supply and demand, like every other system looks great on paper. But … if allowed free reign, as we see today, it simply makes the rich richer and the poor poorer. Never before has the income gap in the U.S. been as large as it is today, and yet … our government passes laws to give the wealthy even more and take more from the rest of us. The very people who should be up in arms, will defend capitalism and run screaming at the very mention of the word socialism, despite the fact that they really don’t understand either system very well! I think that we are on a collision course and something is going to have to give … SOON! Sigh. Hugs, my friend.

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  4. What is the problem with government industries making TVs, jeans, or couches? Is your personal style so important that you are willing to pay more for a lesser product just because it looks good to you, or impresses your neighbours? And who ever said socialist or communist production cannot produce individual-stylized goods? Just because so-called communist and socialist countries produced inferior products does not mean they could not have manufactured superior products. There is no truth to such assumptions.
    Do you really think the citizens of socialist nations are happier than North Americans because they have to make do with inferior products? No, they are happier because less people live below the poverty line, because their citizens don’t have to worry about where they will sleep or where their next meal will come from, and nor do they have to worry about how to support their families if they take sick and cannot work.
    Socialism is so far superior to capitalism they are beyond compare, but decades of being told the ills of communism or socialism affect all your thinking. It’s drummed into you as a child, communism and socialism are evil! THEY ARE NOT. It is the people in charge who are evil, because just like capitalists, the elite are living off the avails of the labourers. That is not the fault of the ideologies, it is the fault of the labourers for putting up with the leaders. It is the fault of the electors who allow themselves to be ruled by the lesser of two evils. THAT DOES NOT CHANGE THE FACT THEY ARE EVIL!
    And it is the fault of the leaders who do not care one iota for the lives of the populace…

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    • Chill rg! No need to yell at me. Deep breaths, please. Now, what is wrong with government controlling the means of production is that by nature, government is corrupt. I could go into a lengthy discussion, but I’m not writing a doctoral thesis here. In essence, prices would rise, and quality would suffer, and just like now, the rich would get richer while we would get poorer. There are things the government does well, but I don’t want them deciding what veggies I will be allowed to buy, or what brand of vacuum cleaner I must own. My personal style, rg??? Hah! I have none. I roll my own cigarettes to save money, buy the cheapest cuts of meat, use coupons, own one pair of shoes, wear sweatpants or jeans … I own 2 pair of each, and my t-shirts mostly have holes. Last article of clothing I bought myself was … let’s see … maybe 2016 or 2017 … and that was a couple of t-shirts to replace the holey ones. So no, I am not a demanding or picky person, and rarely buy anything I don’t just have to have anyway. My one vice, however, is books.

      Where, my friend, did I say anything … ANYTHING about socialist nations making do with inferior products??? I didn’t. For the record … I was COMMENDING Finland, not criticizing! I was pointing out that the people of Finland are happier because … BECAUSE their government puts their needs first, taxes those who can afford it so that they can provide such things as medical care and education!

      I am the one who was DEFENDING socialism, I think a limited, or democratic socialism is far superior to the unfettered capitalism in the western world today. Sigh. I thought you knew me better. 😥

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      • Ah, Jill, I do apologize. But it burned me when you said you don’t want government-owned industry.
        Yes, you were commending Finland, and through them the other Scandinavian-Socialist states, but still you were defending privatized Capitalist industries for America, and other democratic Capitalist states. Free enterprise stopped being free a long time ago. Sure there is the odd industrialist who still cares about giving the consumer fair value, but fair value no longer means good value. Industry is not about providing goods, it is about making money. The cheaper the value, the more the profit.
        Neither Canada nor America could go socialist right now, the necessary government controls are not there. But were the people willing to intentionally elect a government that would socialize industry, do you really think your products would be reduced to the lowest common denominator? The Russians may have settled for that, the Chinese may settle for that, but no way Americans would settle for junk. And I don’t think a socialist government in Canada or the USA would even try. But nor would they price good value out of themarket.
        I’m sorry if I yelled at you, that was not intentional. But I did want to open both your and Jeff’s eyes to the fact there is more good about sochialized industry than bad. You were closing your eyes, still exhibiting the fear of the very word you were trying to praise. You may not be able to see that, but it is there…
        And yes I do understand you, possibly better than you know.

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  5. Hugh brings out some important points Jill. Unfortunately, that word has achieved such a negative connotation, it doesn’t matter to a lot of folks. But, I do think the younger folks today…say the 18-35 crowd..do not have quite the same bad feelings about socialism. It’s why so many have bought in to the Bernie Sanders campaign. Thus, perhaps in less than another generation, the word won’t scare people quite so much. I’m like you, I do not want my government owning factories to make jeans and TV’s. I do, however, want them to provide an adequate safety net and provide opportunities for those who were NOT born on third base…just like a certain person at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave!

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    • We are on the same page here. While I don’t want a Karl Marx-style socialism, social-democracy is something entirely different. It emphasizes taking care of people, rather than spending all the peoples’ money on the military-industrial complex. It places more value on life than profit, and smooths out the income disparity that has gotten so out of hand. It calls for people to pay according to their ability … so those rich assholes who are paying less taxes than you and I, would pay their fair share. Most people don’t understand it and gasp in horror when ‘socialism’ is mentioned, and some understand it full well, but hate it because they feel it takes away the incentive for people to work hard. Sigh. It’s a messy society we live in. I have finally found my focus for Friday’s post and will email you later tonight or in the morning! I fell into the rabbit hole after the events of last week and couldn’t focus at all, but I’m back in the saddle now!

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      • Capitalism and socialism can coexist side by side Jill. It’s what we have now, no? If you look at it from an overall percentage basis..we’ve got about a 65-35 mix in our economy. If we ever did do Medicare for all, that would change of course. We know the tea-partiers would come back in droves if that were to happen. But, we know it’s NOT going to happen. Not with the current makeup in D.C. So, I just think it’s a talking point that Trump and right-wingers will try and pin to all the Dems. It’s up to you and I to set em’ straight! Look forward to your email later. I know that rabbit hole. Been there!!

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        • Exactly … or at least, it was what we had up until the last three years. Each day, I feel that we lean further away from any humanitarian values, but … as you say, it’s up to us to change that, to help people understand the reality, rather than the false reality they are hearing on Fox News, Facebook, and Twitter. Obviously, I didn’t get the letter written yet … fell asleep last night from sheer exhaustion, then got up to the news of Roger Stone and have been in a fizz all day, but I promise you a draft tomorrow, along with a letter. Sigh.

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