Monday, December 20, 2010


It cracks me up when right-wing politicians and their followers accuse Obama of being a socialist, as if (a) the economic policies of the President aren’t the same brand of government-supported corporate capitalism we’ve seen in America for that last six generations or so, (b) our country isn’t pretty socialistic already, and (c) there were anything wrong with being accused of socialism, as if simply calling someone a socialist is to denigrate them.

Socialism, as I understand it, is simply a governmental system whereby people allocate part of their income to the common good; having a police and fire department paid for, at least in part, by payroll, property, or income taxes; I don’t see what’s so bad about that, nor is it clear to me why anyone would be vehemently opposed to such a system.

I guess if you take if further, you’re going to get into advocating some sort of common ownership of the means of production and perhaps a re-allocation of wealth to make sure that nobody starves to death even if it means the richest of the rich don’t get to hold on to every penny they would otherwise. Again, it’s hard for me to see what’s so awful about this.

Sometimes, when I let my own political leanings come out in classroom discussions—usually when we’re talking about Peter Singer’s essay, “Famine, Affluence, and Morality, in which he essentially argues that people in wealthy nations have a moral obligation to donate money to organizations working to prevent people in poorer countries from starving to death in absolute poverty—some wag will accuse me of being a socialist; my standard response is to deny that and claim, rather that I’m a Communist and while it’s not like I’m a fan of Stalinism or repressive dictatorships in general, I don’t think it would be so bad if more was given to people according to their needs and drawn from others according to their abilities.


Post a Comment

<< Home