Socialism in Modern-Day America

The color red has been recognized as a hue representing different aspects of life. These qualities include passion, aggression, courage, violence, anger, error, danger, negativity, et cetera. However, when the color red is related to politics, it is often tied with conservatism. The most recognizable association of red with politics is with socialism and communism. While it is true that socialism is associated with communism, socialism is actually a broader form of government that communism stems from. Despite this, the word "socialism" is misinterpreted at times because of its association with communism. Because of this, socialism can also be viewed as a negative form of government, especially by capitalists. This negativity was especially heightened during the Cold War because of the propaganda set against the U.S.S.R.. Though it is apparent that opinions vary on socialism, I believe socialism should not have to be interpreted as an unacceptable form of government just because it is opposite of capitalistic ideologies.


The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the word "socialism" as "any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods." This word originated from the French word socialisme (1832). The mainstream introduction of the term was introduced by French philosopher Pierre Leroux. Eventually, German philosophers Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels developed the philosophy behind socialism and communism in The Communist Manifesto. The basic principles of the socialist ideology were to abolish capitalistic reign and replace it with a central government to control all aspects of economic progress and development. The reason for this ideology is to regulate and prevent high and distinct class boundaries between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. During the Industrial Revolution, the high class and owners of the factories lived richly in the splendor of the new industrial world, while the workers were forced to become wage slaves and live in poor housing conditions in a squalor. Even children were used for labor, which led to revolt against the working lifestyle. Organized labor was created to withstand any more oppression by the bosses that controlled the workers lives. Communism ruled after the Russian Revolution, which prevented the poor from being ruled by the capitalistic wealthy and led to the creation of the U.S.S.R. (although an authoritarian government would manifest afterwards during Josef Stalin's reign) and eventually to its decay in 1991. The influence of socialism was large in Eastern Europe and South Eastern Asia after its beginnings in Russia, divided world politics and split them into the First and Second World.

The United States of America's government is based on capitalism because of private ownership in the economy, which is highlighted in the free market of Wall Street. Although American capitalists oppose socialist ideologies because of the economic restrictions, aspects of American life are, in reality, socialist. The school system, libraries, and post offices are all part of the socialist aspect that is present in the U.S. today (although colleges are privately owned). However, in other democratic First World countries, health care is ranked among the best in the world. Yet, because of the U.S.'s HMO health care system, the U.S. suffers for this. In a list released by the World Health Organization, rankings of best health care systems were given best to worst. France was number 1, while the U.S. was only number 37. France's system is a government-owned system where any person that requires medical attention from any hospital is not charged at all. The U.S.'s system, however, is a pay-for service system where health costs are lowered by insurance companies if your condition is eligible for coverage. The basic idea for these two systems is that the French system is technically a socialist method because the system is government-owned, while the U.S. is a capital system where insurance companies are privately-owned. The issue is that finances seem to be preferred over sustaining lives, which is evident by the U.S.'s choice of health care coverage. Though, if this nation were to ever switch its system of health to a single-payer system, taxes would rise to meet expenses, which conservatives are extremely against. Because of the American approach to sell insurance for private profits, it becomes a moral dilemma whether or not someone would want to save someone's life despite expenses.

The first time I heard of socialism was on the news. I have especially noticed it when watching the coverage of politicians and their policies. Some politicians often accuse others of being socialists. An example of this is when Arizona Senator John McCain accused Illinois Senator Barack Obama for being a socialist because of his policies before Obama was elected as President. This was during the 2008 elections when a shift of conservative control of the White House and Congress was to shift to liberal politicians. McCain, a Republican, commented on Obama, a Democrat, and his policies' image on a Saturday before the election. "You see, [Obama] believes in redistributing wealth, not in policies that help us all make more of it. Joe ["The Plumber" Wurzelbacher], in his plainspoken way, said this sounded a lot like socialism." It is bothering for Politician A to call Politician B an advocate of something in order to get Y amount of votes from X amount of negative reaction toward Politician B. The true value of politics is gone when we label each other as being something that we really are not. Sure, competition is necessary for any attempt at winning something when multiple people/parties are involved. But why use lies to supply your votes when one could research something and put analysis to use? This labeling of people being socialists is highly reminiscent of the Joseph McCarthy accusations of U.S. civilians being undercover Communists during the second Red Scare in the 1950's.

It really makes me question how socialism is intertwined with democracy. When decisions are made "by the people," would we not refer to that as not only democracy, but also socialism? It seems that democracy and socialism have the same premise of the people being the government, so what is the issue? That issue seems to be that present-day liberties are the problem, not just basic government teachings. When different liberties of democracy are discussed, liberal and conservative influences are conflicted on what is the right path for a nation. Liberal politics advocate personal freedoms over economic freedoms, which leads to the government regulations and interventions in the economic market without interrupting personal liberty. Conservative politics advocate economic freedoms over personal freedoms at times to keep a traditional feel in a nation while a free market is not largely controlled and is privately managed. Socialism's ideologies are very similar to liberal politics, which supports a controlled economy by the state. Socialism is widely opposed by conservatives in the U.S. and labeling liberals as communists has been evident since the McCarthy hearings. But with propaganda against socialism/communism in the past, does it lead one to assume that the U.S. is largely dominated in politics by conservative bias? If that is true, then our freedom of interpreting information has been corrupted because beliefs of basic philosophies are obscured by ignorant opinions so the reasonably intelligent cannot make decisions and cast a vote for the smiling guy on TV.

Socialism is just a theory and it is not something that can take every person's dignity away. The same could be said for communism, but because of totalitarianism governments in the past such as the U.S.S.R. it might suggest otherwise. When theories are made, conservatives cannot criticize it completely until it has been tested out. Socialism has been experimented with, but it is not a complete failure so we cannot criticize that. We can say that both socialism and communism are systems that are bound to fail eventually due to extreme financial regulations preventing free trade from keeping the economy flowing. While that is a legitimate thing to say, it is only a prediction and won't be known for sure until time passes. Yet human habits of control can prohibit experiments from being completed and the regular sense of control over a group of people leads to revolution after revolution. This makes determining which government is logical virtually impossible. Everyone just wants to be right in terms of their beliefs, but people must decide on their own what is right and not conform to something else just because another person thinks otherwise.





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