In the interview clip shared below, a caller makes an important point about authoritarian regimes, namely that authoritarianism can camouflage in any present economic or political system. Therefore socialism gets easily smeared by pointing at the Soviet Union where an authoritarian undemocratic regime hid behind the facade of socialism (or communism, depending on which representative or critic was speaking). It’s almost funny considering that the Soviet Union’s economic system wasn’t really socialist or communist but a form of state capitalism where the ruling capitalists aren’t private owners of everything but bureaucratic members of a regime controlling everything, making workers as ruled from above, voiceless, and possibly exploited at their places of work as in any private ownership style capitalist system. If you research the history of the term socialism you will find that it was created around the idea of democracy in our economy, the workers owning the means of production, not an authoritarian regime acting out as the workers’ alleged representative and thus painting itself as socialist. But I digress…
The frequency with which socialism gets smeared as authoritarian; and the incredible gullibility of people lapping this up; all because regimes like the Soviets masqueraded as socialist states and were happily called socialist by anti-socialist oligarchs and their political and media puppets in order to draw people away from socialist ideas like democratic workplaces, fair pay, state- or community-sponsored free healthcare for all, and so forth; is one of the reasons why I consistently argue against focusing on isms, as everybody understands them differently, casting us into unproductive conversations where we keep talking past one another.
It is much better to talk about the real life issues that affect us, for example the denial of healthcare that hurts so many Americans, or the medical-emergency-caused bankruptcies suffered by so many Americans because of private health insurances playing fraudulent tricks of preexisting conditions, of disappearance whenever we lose our jobs, of activation delay when we start in a new job, of harsh limits on how much they will pay in an emergency, and so on. These are real issues we can all talk about without talking past each other. And not only can we define the problems but also discuss solutions and then implement them, regardless of what isms someone chooses to label them by. At least we can do so after we stop succumbing to knee-jerk reactions whenever someone mentions a prejudice-labeled ism.
When it comes to authoritarianism, there exists a portion of society who lazily or timidly accepts it or has difficulty abandoning the authoritarian mindset under which they were raised as children in authoritarian families. But I strongly believe that the vast majority of people, even those who readily adopt an authoritarian mindset, would much more enjoy and prefer a liberty-based style of government, workplaces, local communities, and their families, one where their freedom and dignity are never compromised and we all have an equal voice in our public affairs. We are currently very far from that kind of environment. At least the growing majority of us – the people – is. We have to get to work on this while, at the same time, moving towards a socially responsible healthcare system, educational system, and economy. A portion of the uninformed will continue to fall for the false promises of authoritarian demagogues, propping them up with votes, trolling, and violence — until they either have gained more information and understanding or the rest of us has brought them (along with everybody else) the kind society of shared power and prosperity and untouchable dignity that we would all revel in. The motto I always promote: A Good Life for All.
Here is the video that sparked this little writ:
(Note: If the video linked above gets deleted, you may search the Internet for Thom Hartmann Program and the title: “Socialism Is the People: Authoritarianism Is Against the People”)
|A related quote from a great article by Nick Brana, founder and national director of the Movement for a People’s Party:
“The Democratic and Republican parties are extensions of Wall Street and the military industrial complex. They are committees of corporations, much like ALEC, where lobbyists come together to rule with a veneer of democratic legitimacy.”
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