One of my frustrations with the state of political discourse these days, is the focus on people rather than on the ideas or principles that they are supposed to represent. For example, during the 2020 US presidential election, most of the ‘reasons’ I heard for supporting a candidate amounted to personal and character attacks against the other candidate(s). When asked what their preferred candidate actually represented ideologically, or what their platform or policy proposals were, many people drew a blank. Usually, the answer was something along the lines of, “Well, he’s not the other guy.”
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).
In part 1, I mentioned being raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and used it as an example of something that tends to be surrounded in a lot of misconceptions and untruths in popular culture and the general public. Bear with me as I use the Church as an example once again.
I was raised in a family that were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and like other children of Latter-day Saint families, I was baptized at the age of 8. My mother was also raised in a Latter-day Saint family, and my father was a convert to the Church in his 20’s.
Stop taking fake red pills, and instead take the genuine product. Socialism is the real red pill.
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.
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: