Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Republican = Socialist

     I write this with great pleasure because as many of you are aware, the right-wing PR machine has long equated the word "liberal" with "socialist", "communist", and "Satan". Communism isn't a particularly good government system, but then again, neither is dictatorship or monarchy. Communism has such a bad rap in the US because of the Cold War and the fact that our #1 rival for the 50 years following WWII was Communist Russia. I think it's pretty obvious that if Americans were given the choice between Communism, Dictatorship, or Monarchy, the latter two would be leading the race easily. That's probably why Socialism gets the same reaction - Communism is a radical branch of Socialism. The Right has accused the Left of being socialist for years, with their programs like Social Security, Welfare, Medicare, etc. Barring any relative benefits or detriments of the programs, the fact that the USSR was Communist was enough to turn these accusations into smears.
     In a Socialist society, you wouldn't have factory owners and factory workers. The workers would be the owners. Americans find this idea highly repugnant for some reason, and many of the greatest critics of Socialism tend to be Objectivists and Libertarians. Of course, controlling your own destiny is about as Objectivist and Libertarian an ideal as I can imagine, but I digress. They actually criticize central planning more than pure Socialism. The point is, Socialism basically means everything is up for a vote. Ownership is limited to one's self only and a single person cannot exert control over another. (That's why Soviets called each other "Comrade" - to make themselves believe they were all equal.)
     Socialism has, over the years, evolved and when people talk about socialized medicine, for example, they basically refer to centralized control over medical distribution. But the core concept remains that no individual can withhold or dispense medicine at his or her will - it is available for all equally. Social Security, of course, is administered by the government, but its core premise is that every American deserves a retirement whether they made the choices necessary to save for one or not. And conservatives have been against these programs, basically arguing that because they made the right choices (or plan to), they should reap rewards that are different than those who did not or will not.
     The funny thing is that Republicans have become Socialist over the past 5 years. Forget the Medicare prescription drug plan, which many are uncomfortable with - that was a political move. Some basic tenets of 21st century Republicanism are inherently Socialist. Take the FCC's battle against indecency. No matter how you feel about nudity or sex or violence on TV (although who really cares about violence on TV anymore? It's all about the nippleage today), Republicans want the government to act on behalf of the citizenry to tell owners of media companies that they cannot produce "indecent" programming. Forget that there are owners of these companies who feel that they are the ones who should make the decisions. Citizens (Comrades) want their products to conform to their standards. Normally the Republican position is that the market takes care of deviant behavior. Unpopular products don't make money, so unpopular behavior should go away. But sex sells and Republicans don't like that so they embrace Socialist behavior.
     But why stop there? The owners of Eckerd and CVS pharmacies want to run their businesses as they see fit, allowing anyone who comes in to get their prescriptions filled. But Republican legislation in South Dakota and Arkansas allow pharmacists to ignore their employers wishes and act on their own behalf, while acting in the employ of aforementioned owners. Legislation under consideration elsewhere, including in Illinois, deny pharmacies the right to even ask prospective pharmacists their views on the matter. If Republicans should ever be taken seriously again when complaining about government regulation over business and about Socialist legislation, they can hardly expect the rest of us not to notice when they turn around and do the same thing.
     By the way, the Democratic position is not in favor of Socialism. However, it does favor some Socialist programs because it feels those programs are worthwhile. Endorsement of those programs does not imply endorsement of Republican Socialist programs. Democrats are not Socialists any more than Republicans are. Interpret that as you like.


sideshow bob said...

The thing about ideologies is...they're all wrong. None of them are always right about everything. Pure Socialism is doomed to fail, just like pure Capitalism or Republicanism or Democrat-ism, etc.

Different things work at different times under different circumstances. I think to subscribe blindly to one ideology is quite impragmatic (not a word, but should be).

Mike said...

Bob, I think what you mean to say is none of them are perfect. This is true, but some are better than others.

Ok, Scott. You named a few examples and came to the conclusion that Republicans are socialists. That's like saying Muslims blow up buildings so all Muslims must be terrorists.

In case you haven't noticed, many Democrats are against vulgarity in movies and television. Joe Leiberman comes to mind. It's a bipartisan effort that really doesn't get much support in either party. I don't think it's fair to pin that one on just the republicans.
Your example of the pharmacists totally goes against your point. How is giving pharmacists a choice putting them under a central control? Since when is giving people a choice considered socialism? You are the one suggesting we take away their freedom and force them to give out medicine they are not comfortable dispensing. Calling legislation that gives people a choice "socialist" is ridiculous.

I will agree that the Republicans have definitely moved toward the left and more toward socialism. When instead of discussing the benefits of Social Security and No Child Left Behind we are disagreeing over how much money to throw at it, we've lost the battle.

Scott said...

Well, since the right-wing has been calling Democrats "Socialists" for years, I figure turnabout is fair.
We've rehashed the pharmacist argument before, but the reason the Republican laws are socialist is not that they allow the pharmacist to refuse to dispense medicine - they've always had the right to do that. It's that these laws take away the rights of their employers to take recourse. And when the government is stepping in to say that even a legal business can't run the way it sees fit but must comply to the wishes of the people, that's Socialism.

sideshow bob said...

Yes, that's what I meant. I was going to go back and change that but I forgot to. It was truly an impragmatic way to compose my comment.

Maybe what Scott was trying to point out is that Socialism has certain tenets that, while they frame part of the point of view that informs Socialism, these tenets are not exclusive to Socialism, and are not inherently "Socialist" ideals.
Or maybe I missed the point there. I'll check back later and see.

alex said...

Scot i think you have forgotten what the definition of socialism is. Just to remind you here is the definition.

Any of various theories or systems of social organization in which the means of producing and distributing goods is owned collectively or by a centralized government that often plans and controls the economy.

You notice this is an economic theory not a social theory. In all of your examples they are all about social political issues. Republicans refer to dem's as socialist because they in general are in favor of greater goverment regulation of buisness. Such as we don't want a free trade zone with central america. While i agree that both republicans and democrates meddle to much in personal choices. I belive you miss the point of the socialist tag.

Ben said...

Damn Scott. What a way with twisting truth you have. Too much ridiculousness to respond to every point, so I'll just say that the far left in this country is VERY socialist, and they admit it. Groups like and ANSWER are the heart and soul of the far left, and they have taken over control of the Democratic Party due to their fundraising success. Most European countries are definitely leaning socialist by anyone's definition, and the admiration many Dems show for Europe certainly illustrates socialist attitudes on the left.

And you little comment about why employees owning companies is not such a bad thing because it allows control over one's destiny is bunk. Just the other day you were trashing the anti-filibuster crew for wanting tyranny of the majority. That's what happens when the employees own the company.

Anyway, the ideal of to each according to their need, from each according to their ability is what I consider socialism, and mot every left-wing ideal I hear about fits in there exactly.

Scott said...

Well, Ben, what you consider Socialism is irrelevant. What Socialism actually is is what's more important. And the next time you decide to throw a little fit, read what you're responding to first. I did not talk about European countries. I did not say employees owning the company was not a bad thing, only that is seemed to fit the Objectivist and Libertarian philosophies, and you did not dispute that Republican programs that take power away from companies and give them to the government are socialist in nature. Sorry this post didn't fit neatly into your talking points.

Ben said...

Scott I was responding not just to the exact words you wrote, but to where you said that left wingers are not socialist. That carries a lot more implications than what you laid out. Sorry if my rebuttal does not meet your approval. It's still true.

"Americans find this idea highly repugnant for some reason," referring to employes owning companies. I think that's a pretty damn strong indication that you disagree with Americans on this point and feel that employess owning a company is a good thing. If I'm wrong about what you think, then I'm wrong, but I'm not wrong about what you wrote, it's clear as day. And saying I threw a "fit" really ups the discourse.

And yes, some Republican porgams smack of socialism, but keeping indecency off the air so that children won't see it is hardly socialist. Take that to it's logical conclusion and laws against murder are socialist, too. That's the government restricting our ability to choose, right? Your argument on that point is so twisted it's like a twizzler.

As far as the pharmacies, I don't think the pharmacists should have the right to refuse to provide certain drugs. But then, despite your continual attacks against me, I am not a Republican, nor ever claimed to be, and have no problem criticizing them when I disagree. I rarely see you do anything but toe the left-wing line, however.

Mike said...

I think Alex had it right when he said socialism is an economic philosophy, not a social philosophy. It really has no place when discussing social issues.

Ben said...

But how do you define social issues from economic? They all affect each other and are hard to completely seperate. Gay marriage, for instance, has a very definite economic aspect, in that gay married couples would get the same financial benefits as hetero married couples. So what if guy roommates decide to save some money by getting married even though they aren't really gay? Granted, it's a stretch, but if gay marriage is made legal, I'd put money down that some people will do that for the financial benefit.

ORF said...

Mike and Ben are right about one thing: Republicans are not Socialists. And Alex makes an excellent point that most of the examples you cited, Scott, are about social issues not economic ones (although Marx DID primarily talk about social interaction instead of holding forth in a Keynesian manner). So, in conclusion, I think it is safe to say that Republican are not Socialists but rather Fascists. Yeah, that sounds better.

alex said...

While you are all discussing the issue of socialism perhaps this is a point for you to ponder scot. While jews as a whole mainly vote democrate. Russian Jews people that actually have lived under socialism and communism vote very heavily republican.

Jews from the former Soviet Union prefer the Republicans to the Democrats. Some 400,000 of these Jews have emigrated to the United States over the past 30 years, and many of them cast their first votes for Ronald Reagan, whose anticommunism they admired. They then continued to vote for his Republican successors. In New York, these Jews have consistently supported candidates known to be tough on crime and conservative on moral issues, notably New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. A recent poll of 789 Russian Jews in New York has them supporting Bush by a margin of 54 to 14 percent, with the rest undecided

(that is a piece of an article in the from the boston globe, which even the liberals in the group must admit is a real news source.)

I for one find it intresting that people have fled communism such as my family tend to vote republican and often for the precise reason that they consider them anti-socialist (communist). As for the facist comment i do not believe that even deserves a response.

ORF said...

Man, seriously, you Republicans need to lighten the hell up.

And the Jewish vote is quite split in the US. A lot of Jews with Israeli connections tend to vote Republican because the Republican policy on Israel is considerably more in favor of giving Sharon (or whomever) full support while chastising the Palestinians to get used to the idea of being permanently marginalized. Lately, the Dems have been leaned more towards trying to mediate the entire situation and divide Israel in some sort of way.

Mike said...

ORF, it's hard for us to distinguish joke from intentional when you have your own party leaders out there comparing Bush to Hitler and Howard Dean calling us evil. I think everyone these days are hypersensitive to name calling, so my advice is just keep it out of the debate.

Sylvana said...

Socialism IS about social policies! Don't get hung up on the economics. Marx used economics to base his idea on because he felt that was the key to gaining harmony within a society. He felt that capitalism led to some having a lot while many had very little. This disparity led to even more disparity as the extra leverage that the wealthy had led to them being able to exploit those who had little even more to gain more money and thus more power. Money is power, and power in the hands of a few was corrupt as far as Marx was concerned. The way to get rid of the corruption was to get rid of classes and a few people having power over many.

Mike said...

Why would anyone favor a system where hard work and ingenuity were punished and complacency was rewarded? Unfortunately (not really), free markets favor the rich. Does that mean republicans are greedy? No. We just favor free markets where everyone has an equal opportunity. While few americans may consider themselves rich, almost all americans have dreams of wealth for themselves or their family. Socialism hinders that which is why the majority of Americans reject it. To say favoring lower taxes and free markets is socialist is just preposterous.

Anonymous said...

Comrade, do you have any idea what communism even is? Have you even actually studied the works of Marx and Lenin?

As an actual communist, I found several major problems with your post.

To begin with, communism is an economic system, not a governmental one. Communism does not have to be a totalitarian dictatorship, in fact it should not be one. Yes, Marx did mention a "dictatorship of the proletariat", but if you've done any serious study you would realize that Marx used this term to refer to the workers taking control of the means of production, and government being controlled by the average people rather than wealthy elitists. But Marx himself was a supporter of democracy, and believed communism to be the ultimate form of democracy. A true communist government would be a democracy, not the dictatorship of the USSR. Furthermore, communism does not support a strong government, but rather a very weak one. Communists believe that once the new economic system is established government should fade away. Communists favor absolute civil rights. Communists favor freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of choice.

So please, do some research. Learn what you are talking about before you say it.

Scott said...

I'm sorry you misunderstood the post. I never actually made any statements about Communism, other than to say it isn't a particularly good government system. Notice on my 10/24/05 post where I say Capitalism isn't a good government system. You're absolutely correct in saying they are economic systems only.
My point (in this post and the other) is that the average American can't tell the difference. And the primary point of this post, as it relates to Communism, is that Americans tend to be anti-Communist (IMHO) primarily due to the cold war and the Stalinist-Leninist dictatorships. In fact, the whole post was a slap to the hysterical right wing that freaks out every time they hear about a "social" system.
I hope you're sufficiently mollified. I do want to stress that I do not believe Communism can work, however, as the lack of strong controls opens itself up to the very abuses of power we saw in Russia, China, and Cuba. In a world of limited resources, most people would rather have the opportunity to be wealthy (or the perception thereof) rather than join everyone else in mediocre poverty. That's just the way it is. And it's the reason why the poor slobs in the Red states vote contrary to their own economic interests.