Saturday, August 29, 2015

Socialism is hard to define

A friend recently praised Bernie Sanders for making the term "socialism" respectable. 

But what has he really accomplished in this realm? There is no universally accepted definition of socialism. At its core should be the idea of social control of banks and basic industries - what the British Labour Party used to embrace as Clause Four. But that is no longer the rule in the UK, though the concept may be revived. 

Once upon a time, Stalinism was accepted as socialism in pure form. And, partly as a result of conservative propaganda, adoption of a single-payer system of medical care is stigmatized as "socialism," when it is not. They do not have socialism in any serious sense in Scandinavia, merely mitigated capitalism. 

Socialism then is an essentially contested concept, a chameleon that in common usage means many different things.

1 Comments:

Blogger Erik Gia said...

My working definition of how people seem to actually use the term: socialism is people cooperating in ways that the speaker is afraid of.

By way of contrast, capitalism is anything that a businessman does which the speaker disapproves of.

4:06 PM  

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