I am curious about the Conservative concept of “Socialism”

“Those in power are blind devotees to private enterprise. They accept that degree of socialism implicit in the vast subsidies to the military-industrial-complex, but not that type of socialism which maintains public projects for the disemployed and the unemployed alike.”

William O. Douglas, former U.S. Supreme Court Justice,  1969

Whenever one of the Conservative (read Republican) members of our Congress, or those campaigning for the Presidential nomination, discuss Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid. or unemployment funding, you are certain to hear the word “socialism” pop up with an extremely negative cloaking. It has happened so frequently that the word has lost any of it’s original meaning (“a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole” – Webster’s) and, indeed, has been connected to everything from community farming to Communism.

Socialism appeared as a concept in the early 19th Century in France (“socialisme’) which came from the concept of “social” (needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities : we are social beings as well as individuals) or “society” (the aggregate of people living together in a more or less ordered community)…a term which itself goes back to the 16th Century.

The fact that our 21st century civilization shows that the need for the companionship of individuals, states and countries in order to face potentially devastating changes in climate, creating non-polluting energy methods to protect our air and water and educating our children to eventually take over the mess that has been made on our watch, is so obvious that many don’t see the forest for the trees.

Our job should be to make the trees visible to all, and especially to the people we elect to office… the people who make the rules and allot the funds to give us those necessary services.

And it’s not like the anti-socialist campaign of the current Conservative is something new, urged on by Corporations that are concerned… apparently by Federal regulation… only of making profits for a limited number of shareholders and executives. Justice Douglas’s quote from over four decades ago points out that it has been present for awhile. In fact, if we go back further to when Eisenhower warned us about the “military industrial complex”, something his whole career had given him great insight into, we see our post-WWII economy as a challenge we never met.

Have you wondered why, in all the discussions of the budget and raising of the debt ceiling, we have not heard people yelling for cuts in the military expenditures that keep our remaining industrial giants flowing in dough.  As a whole “community”, the military/industry mix is about as socialist as you can get. Add to that the VA medical system which provides the closest thing to “socialized medicine” (another concept that Conservatives would like to deny the average guy) that exists in the world today. This system, by the way, is praised by just about every politician, probably out of guilt from sending so many of our young soldiers into a life of crippling disabilities.

It is time to make a strong change of focus in our social environment, something which is not going to happen if we leave the decisions and actions to politicians. Republican or Democrat, they keep their jobs because of election funds for advertising and lobby persuasion with highly focused corporate contributions. As we saw, for instance, in the 1940s and 1950s, many cities lost the public transportation systems of mini-railroads that gave people inexpensive commuting transport … without parking, fuel and other expenses… due to the money spent by the automobile industry on lobbyists and state and federal (and local) political campaigns. General Motors even bragged about it in public.

The question is “how do we do it?” There are no easy answers, but I’m pretty sure it will take a lot of time and will begin on a very local level. Here in Shepherdstown, WV, our recent completion of a 10,000 square foot Community Garden allotting 10′ by 10′ growing plots to locals who have no planting areas in their town houses or  downtown apartments is a good example of modern socialism.  At a very low fee (starting at $20 and going up to $30 if you take three plots), which has paid for deer fence construction and publicity to get members, and with volunteers for construction of the fence (and the donation of land and so much more from a local entrepreneur who has created a neighboring public market to serve local farmers and craftspeople), community interdependence has resulted in community celebration.

This only one concept of local change which can be achieved. Tie that together with activities that follow such as expansion of public libraries (which is part of both education promotion and public interaction), involvement in schools beyond their operations budgets, group purchase alignments for reduction of basic living costs, etc., and you have a good start at what can then expand to the state level… and eventually to the national top. This can also, I would hope, be the start of a new political structure, beginning in local government and expanding upward over time.

Now… if we can only protect ourselves from corporate corruption and maintain the basic concept of “socialism”… that our community organization is controlled by ALL of it’s members and not the artificial “Citizens United” persons funded by the corporate bankbook.

About btchakir

Retired Theatre Producer, Graphic Designer, Usability Tester and General Troubleshooter with a keen interest in Politics and The Stage. Currently heard on WSHC, 89.7 FM (on line at www.897wshc.org) and occasionally dabbling in Community Theatre.

Posted on May 22, 2011, in automobile, blogs, Books, budget, Business, campaign, Climate Change, Congress, Corporations, creativity, Economics, Education, election, Family, Finance, food, government, Health Care, history, Internet, Job Seeking, Labor, Legal, Military, News, Opinion, Organic Gardening, Pentagon, Politics, President Obama, primaries, Taxes, Technology, vote, War, Warning, Word from Bill and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. If VA health care is what socialized medicine for all will become, I support it 100%. I have gotten the best care of my life from the dedicated doctors, nurses and other professionals at the Oklahoma City VAMC.

  2. When you see corporate welfare, shout. Class warfare is not a myth.

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