Who Is Evil: Socialism or the Socialist?

Nola Allinger, Period 6

When one thinks of the American government ideas like Capitalism, free enterprise, and democracy all come to mind; but more recently another word has been plastered across the media, especially in the light of the most recent 2012 election. The idea of Socialism has become more closely associated with the American government since the re-election of President Barack Obama. Since in many minds the word Socialism correlates with Communism, that word has even been thrown around as well—leading us all to wonder, have the original ideals of our founding fathers completely changed?

By simply growing up in the United States there are some basic opinions that many of us share based on our countries culture: the Dallas Cowboys are Americas team, our cars, houses and salaries are always bigger, we all wish we knew who shot J.R., we love the Academy Awards, and Communism is EVIL while Capitalism is what guarantees our freedom. Now, when you put the three ideas of Capitalism, Socialism, and Communism in simple terms some of these basic God-given opinions may be a little altered. Capitalism is actually “an economic system based on the ‘survival of the fittest,’” Socialism is really just “an economic system based on ‘you get your share no matter what your contribution is,’” and Communism is simply “an economic system based on ‘you put in your fair share, you get your fair share.’”[1] Now not only are you know thinking “wait the Cowboys are 7-6 why are they Americas team,” but you are also wondering, “why both Communism and Socialism don’t sound that horrible?” As a country we have fought wars over Communism in countries thousands of miles away from our own, we hear the word Marx and shudder, and we all know what the Policy of Containment is; so why the fear and hatred towards a simple nine letter word?

In its basic root the political idea of Communism is not the worlds greatest evil, and please don’t report me to Homeland Security for saying that. As Americans we just have a very specific view of what Communism does, and that is not necessarily what Communism is. The basic ideas that Marx had were not evil, but the people who put them into action were. Men such as Ho Chi Minh, Mao Zedong, and Kim Il-Sung are the ones who have forever stereotyped communist ideals as immoral in the American brain. But we must remember that these men are in themselves evil, and probably certifiably insane, so no matter what their political ideals were, wouldn’t there government be evil either way? Are we judging the basic ideas of Communism on a handful of psychotic dictators?

Now we can move on to a happier ideal that we can all imagine written in stars and stripes font: Capitalism! I don’t know about you but when I think of Capitalism I think of Washington DC, freedom, equality, and Michelle Obama’s gorgeous white, one shoulder, Jason Wu gown that she wore for the last inaugural ball; and after some research I’ve realized that these thoughts don’t necessarily hold true. Karl Marx actually came up with the term Capitalism, and this described a system where a small group of people own the majority of the countries money, land, and resources. In the Manifesto of the Communist Party this small group of landowners was referred to as the Bourgeoisie. Now that idea doesn’t make me think of bald eagles flying across the American flag, Martin Luther King marching for civil rights, or really America at all. But Capitalism is great for trade and creates booming industries, and even exploits the working class (which are referred to as the Proletariat in the Manifesto of the Communist Party), and creates monopolies—there those are the ideals of Capitalism that we all know and love!

One of the most central ideas of Capitalism is trade, and countries under Capitalist’s governments are very trade-happy. Marx even said that “the need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe,”[2] and this still holds true today. I mean, can you even walk into Target and find anything made in America? No, of course not, because as a capitalist country we trade as much as possible. Americans always want things that are bigger and better than what we already have; “we find new wants, requiring for their satisfaction the products of distant lands and climes,”[3] so why would we want a stupid Ford Mustang that’s made in Detroit, when we can have a Ferrari F430 Spyder that’s made in Italy? Because in Capitalism “the consumer is king, is the real boss,”[4] if Brad Pitt, as an American consumer, wants a $960,000 painting from Germany than Capitalism will provide it.[5] But for some reason Obama wants to support companies that give jobs to American workers on American soil; what a crazy socialist!

When we hear the world Socialism, more American opinions have us jumping to conclusions. One of the most widely believed thoughts about Socialism is that it is the same thing as Communism; this is false. And since when we think of Communism our knee-jerk reaction is that it is evil, we also think of Socialism as evil as well.  Technically speaking neither of these ideas are true at all, because both are very different and neither of them are evil. Though both Communism and Socialism believe that the property should be held by the common man, Communism has all of the property given to the common people but owned by the state, and Socialism just has most of the property owned by the common man and is owned by the workers. In Communism there is supposed to be no leader and is to be directed purely by the people (this has never actually happened), and in Socialism there are multiple ruling parties with one above the rest. Both Communism and Socialism redistribute wealth so that everyone is given an equal share, but in socialism you can earn extra if you work harder. Communism of course has its problems: the state controls your education, religion, and marriage (in all communist governments that have actually been in practice), private property is abolished as well as religion, all members of the state are created equal but only in theory, and the names most often associated with it are men like Karl Marx, and Vladimir Lenin. However the main problems that are associated with Communism, do not really exist in Socialism. All choices about education, religion, and marriage are left up to the individual, health care and education is provided for everyone, both private and public property exists, and some of the people who are well-known supporters of Socialism are people like George Bernard Shaw, and Albert Einstein; neither of which are known tyrants. So why exactly is Socialism evil again?[6]

Since President Barack Obama’s re-election there has been plenty of mud slinging, propaganda campaigns, and even threats to secede; some of which are based on the claim that he is a Socialist. In fact, Obama does have some Socialist ideas but I do not believe that they are malicious, simply misunderstood. He is not trying to make America like modern-day China, nor is he wishing that our country was more like the Socialist Soviet Union; he is simply a fan of equality, an ideal which this great nation was built upon. Obama believes that everyone should have free health care, including those with pre-existing medical conditions, and thinks that you should be able to chose who you marry—he’s not trying to turn America into Cuba, or Haiti, or China but instead trying to level the playing field out a little bit. Many “NObama” people believe that he is practically punishing the hardworking rich and just giving money to the lazy poor. This is so false on so many levels because how hard you work oftentimes doesn’t dictate your salary, and a very very small percent of the extremely wealthy earned it by working hard, most of them just had very sizable trust funds. So if you would like to call Obama a socialist for being more sympathetic to the hardworking, single mom who is struggling to put food on the table for her family, than the extremely affluent heir who might have to sell one of his twelve houses due to the new taxes for the rich; than I guess you can call him a big, bad Socialist.

Okay, obviously if Socialism was the perfect form of government then we would be a Socialist nation—but it’s not. Even Karl Marx said that Socialism doesn’t work, because history has shown us that the ideals of Socialism are twisted by the tyrants and dictators that enforce it. But America is not run by a tyrant or dictator, but instead by a President elected by the people, who does not have complete power and is kept in check by other bodies of government, that are also elected by the people. The fact that one person out of the hundreds of people working within our government supports certain Socialist views is not going to destroy America, because if we’re a nation made up of a melting pot of individuals is it so horrible that our government is created by a melting pot of political ideals?

[1] “Capitalism vs Socialism Vs Communism.” PowerBlogging. N.p., 6 Jan. 2009. Web. 7 Dec. 2012.

[2] Karl Marx

[3] Ludwig von Mises

[4] Ludwig von Mises

[5] “Most Outrageous Celebrity Purchases.” Zimbio. N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2012.

[6] “Communism vs Socialism.” Difference and Comparison. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.


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