Economy & Budget

Why is ‘Socialist’ an Insult?

Why is “socialist” an insult? At face value the word sounds good. It’s got “social” in it. One of’s definitions for “social” is as follows:

living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in a community

Well, so far that sounds good. I guess it’s all about that scandalous little “ist” there at the end — there’s the problem. Terrorist, sadist, misogynist — all are pretty negative classifications. But on the other hand, philanthropist, dentist and specialist are all good things to be called.

“Socialist” together as one word is defined by as:

a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

That sounds pretty radical. I can see how this could be jarring to some, in a “duh Guburn-ment gonna take mah stuff” type of way. But if you think about it, I don’t think it is such a radical idea. America is already a little socialist. We have welfare, Medicaid, public education, parks and infrastructure paid for with taxpayer money.

The assumption that many Republicans make is that “taking from the most hardworking and industrious among us and spreading it around is unfair.” It is fair. It’s fair because “hardworking and industrious” sometimes has little to do with why these people are so well-off. Of the Forbes 400 richest Americans, 39 percent owe their wealth, to some degree, to inheritance.

Even the self-made super-rich owe to America the resources, conditions and climate that allowed for this success. Isn’t it only fair that they give back to the system? Success doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The Google guys wouldn’t be rich if Americans (with a lot of help from the Guburn-ment) hadn’t invented the Internet. The mining industry couldn’t make a dime without tapping into America’s resources. Our resources, right? Where would distributors be without the roads? And so on.

We recently nationalized a few banks (maybe just their debt). We also subsidize, and even write checks to, corporations and build sports stadiums for privately owned teams and infrastructure for other special interests. Communities all over America use taxpayer money to offer huge incentive packages to lure businesses. The rich and powerful seem to get a lot from Uncle Sam. Robert Reich noted on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “We have socialism for the rich and capitalism for everyone else.”

Our lives are so dependent on corporations today; shouldn’t we have a little say in the direction we are headed — especially since they have demonstrated that, if left in control, they will only concern themselves with short-term capital gain? The Dow’s current instability is a direct result of this short-term thinking. We are driving off a cliff because those in control were only looking a few feet in front of the car.

All the selfish thinking coming from the right is another example of short-term thought. They think that tax loopholes, self-regulated safety standards, elimination of social programs and budget cutting will cure all. All these are short-term approaches that will prove only to make our and even their lives worse. Poverty and crime go hand and hand, so what good is all your fancy stuff if you always have to worry about it?

If Uncle Sam instead gave a little to those at the bottom, they could pay their bills and buy things. Bills issued, and things provided by, corporations. When we play fair, we all get our fair share. We learn that in kindergarten. Plus, if the interests of regular Americans became our government’s cause, we could take the controls back from the ill-suited hands of CEOs. So why is “socialist” an insult?

Tags Collectivism Economies Political philosophy Quotation Socialism Sociology

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