In his most recent letter, my dad shared some thoughts and asked a really interesting question that I’ve been pondering on for the past few of weeks. I decided to share and respond here, mainly so that I could link to some sites and graphs in my response that I found to be of interest, but also to ensure it’s legible!
Another myth I often encounter regarding socialism is that it is somehow antithetical to democracy; that it breeds despotic regimes and runs counter to the American notions of freedom. We often hear about ‘communist dictators’, but rarely ‘capitalist’ ones (though they most certainly exist).
Recently, I received the following text from a family member eager to share a compelling video they had viewed. This isn’t the first time I’ve been sent a link to QAnon-related content, but it has been a while (especially since I ditched social media) and I was a little surprised that this stuff is still making the rounds. I don’t know if this is due to the conspiracy theory gaining something of a ‘second wind’, or if it just never really subsided like I had imagined, but either way I’ve finally decided—reluctantly—to address it here and share some of my thoughts.
Jonathan Rowe and David Bollier raise some really good thought-provoking questions in this article about economics, ‘the market’, and its insidious creep into every aspect of our lives. They ask, “Is everything for sale?” It touches on the need to create boundaries on the market’s “relentless creep”.
Again, I’ve stumbled on an article today that mirrors so many of my thoughts. This is another article of the sort I was planning on trying to write at some point, but Dr. Philipsen has beaten me to it in excellent form.
In this great article, Packer hits on many points and thoughts that echo my own. The true tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic’s affect on the US isn’t the virus itself, but the woefully inadequate response led by incompetence, decades of cuts to public spending and infrastructure, privatization of public resources and services, and political squabbling.
I think a feedlot is a great analogy for how I often feel about our consumption-obsessed society. With the never-ending onslaught of advertising, marketing, media, branding, and debt-fueled consumption, I feel as though I’m living in a feedlot rather than an actual real country.
I heard a funny story from someone about an experience they had while talking to others about socialism. When the topic came up, an elderly woman expressed outrage due to her concern that, “The socialists want to take my kitchen table!”
In part 1 of this series, I touched on the opinion often pushed by advocates of capitalism that the poor are merely trying to take advantage of or ‘steal’ from the wealthy. This sentiment is used as the rationale for various arguments against any sort of public spending, taxation, welfare etc. It’s used to portray any sort of financial or social obligation not voluntarily or willingly fulfilled by an individual as theft.
Two men found themselves stranded on a desert island with no provisions. Realizing that they would need food, both struck out to survey the island to see what was available. One headed inland, while the other, David, decided to skirt the coast along the beach. After roaming for a day and a half, he found nothing to eat or of utility along the coast. The beaches of the island were truly devoid of anything that could be used for sustenance. Exhausted, and thirsty, he too realized that heading inland towards the center of the island was perhaps the best hope of finding food and fresh water after all.
A libertarian friend once explained his grievances towards socialism or—as he put it: “Taking a man’s property by threatening force if he did not comply in order to benefit those who did not work for it.” To him, socialism meant the theft of the fruits of his labor by taxation or force. He then proceeded to use an allegorical tale to animate his point that was essentially a rehash of The Little Red Hen. It went something like this:
I came across this photo and thought the slogan was genius. It perfectly describes the true motive behind a lot of right-wing punditry and ‘talking points’ pushed by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity et al., and the so-called ‘news’ outlets in defense of the capitalist status quo and as an explanation for all of the woes and ills in our society.
If an ideological opponent is not willing to debate the core premise of their arguments, implying that they should be accepted on faith, while insisting that you answer charges that validate their groundless premise; then you’ve been framed
Ben Shapiro talks about ‘framing the argument’ in this video while instructing the audience on how to debate ‘the left’. What’s amusing to me is that right after he tells them not to let ‘the left’ frame the argument in certain ways, he then uses the classic ‘framed’ argument of, “Why is it okay for you to steal other people’s money?”