“The dictionary definition of socialism is “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.””
The Bewildered Herd on Dec 16, 2019
8 Myths about Socialism
- The U.S. was founded on Free Market Principles
One of the biggest misconceptions about America was that it was founded on free trade. But the first thing Jefferson and Hamilton did was impose a tariff, restricting trade to keep out superior British goods in order to spur American manufacturing, then passed congressional legislation protecting those U.S. businesses.
In order to initiate economic growth, the government immediately intervened to commission ordinances that set up states, issued land grants and government bonds, built roads, canals, bridges, railways and passed laws that spurred homesteading. If you think American was founded on free trade, think again.
- Socialism means government control
The dictionary definition of socialism is “a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.”
Nowhere does it state that things should be run by the federal government, though that is one form it can take. However, the core notion of socialism is that workers own and control their own labor as well as the wealth they produce and that communities run their own lives allowing everyone an equal say in the organizations in which they willing participate.
- Socialism redistributes wealth
Capitalism, not socialism, redistributes wealth. If, under true socialism, workers controlled their own labor and had a say what was done with the wealth they created, they wouldn’t pay themselves starvation wages while the people under whom they toiled accumulated obscene amounts of wealth. It is capitalism that takes that wealth that workers produce and gives it to the managers, the bosses and the shareholders.
Under capitalism, say you work in a factory that my grandmother bought stock in and when she died her stock passed to me. I’ve never set foot in your factory, I don’t even know what you produce, but every month I get a check in my mailbox for doing absolutely nothing. The wealth that you worked to produce and should be yours is redistributed to me, a person who did nothing to earn it.
- Socialism will strip us of our culture
The truth is American culture, or rather American cultures, have already been destroyed by 20th century corporations. Capitalism replaced traditional American values such as thrift, self-effacement and community with corporate values such as greed, consumerism and the cult of the self. Individual, regional identities across America with their own unique history and traditions were all destroyed and replaced with the homogenization of corporate culture.
My own hometown in central Pennsylvania which used to be filled with mom and pop stores, bowling alleys and small, family businesses is now like every other town in America filled with strip malls that contain the same corporate juggernauts from sea to shining sea. The small, local bookstore once staffed with people who loved what they did, knew who your were and always had a new recommendation for you, is now a T-Mobile kiosk.
- Socialism would make us dependent on others
Capitalism, which is based off private property, deprives the majority of the population from obtaining the means of survival without paying someone to gain access to those things. And without having access to the means of your own survival you are forced to rent yourself to an employer on whom you are now depended.
Take the latest altercation with the striking workers of the UAW. As they were striking, management stripped them of their health care on a whim because under capitalism, management knows workers are dependent on them for affordable healthcare. Profiting off basic needs and restricting land access to create a working class dependent on precarious wage labor all justified by the right to vote. But land, houses, food and water are not on the ballot.
- You couldn’t own property under socialism
It is true that most socialists want to abolish private property, but it’s important to distinguish between, personal property, state and private property and communal property. Personal property would be your car, your home, your computer, the land you use, and yes, your toothbrush; and in a socialist society those things are yours and no one else’s. What you couldn’t lay claim to are things you don’t use, but would purchase in order to restrict others from using without paying you a fee.
Like if there was a mountain people climbed, under socialism, we wouldn’t allow a wealthy person to buy that mountain and then start charging people for doing something that they were already doing for free. Private property, along with state property, includes things people use together but do not own such as uncultivated land, the means of production, communication and transportation. Instead of being owned by the people who use them, as they would be in a socialist society, in this capitalist society they are owned by a small group of wealthy industrialists or state bureaucrats who we must pay.
- Socialists think Capitalist are greedy
Capitalists are greedy, but no more so than the workers they employ. Greed, after all, is a part of human nature. But the fact is, it is not greed that drives owners to exploit their workers, it is the logic of the capitalist system. The capitalist accumulates profits in order to obtain other tools that secure his place in the market and rid himself of his competition, not because he likes to put others out of business, but because he has no other option.
Because if he doesn’t do that, that will be done to him. It is true that greed is a normal human trait, but so are many other things like empathy, loyalty and solidarity. Capitalism is built to reinforce and reward the worst aspects of human nature. But wouldn’t it be more beneficial to all to design a society that acknowledged and reconciled the less attractive aspects of human nature while reinforcing our more positive attributes?
- Socialists would imprison everyone
At this point it’s common knowledge that the Land of the Free ironically has the highest prison population in the world. In fact, no state socialist nation has ever come close to locking up the percentage of people the United States has. We are 4% of the world’s population and hold 22% of the world’s prisoners. That’s because we have a private, capitalist for-profit prison industrial complex. Our capitalist system, through exploitation of the workforce, makes production so efficient that a sizable portion of the population are not needed and instead of letting us go to waste, capitalism commodifies our lives by locking us in cages where we generate 30 to 40,000 dollars a year for the ruling class, incentivizing incarceration.
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