House minority leader, Kevin McCarthy, is trying to call the opposition to Trump’s racist and misogynistic statements the work of communists who are against freedom. What a crock! All my adult life I’ve known that the average American couldn’t write a textbook definition of communism. They also struggle with defining socialism.
Communism, as the world has known it is an authoritarian, totalitarian form of government that has, in fact, stripped its inhabitants of their freedom. North Korea and China are communists countries, as is Cuba. Communism is supposed to be an economic system in which the nation’s wealth is distributed equally amongst its citizens. Well, it never was successful at that and instead became just another way to suppress the freedoms and rights of people while the rulers lived high on the hog.
China may be the exception since it has, maybe more than any communist nation, allowed increasing capitalism while maintaining political control. There is only one political party in any of today’s communist nations and that is the Communist Party.
Socialism, on the other hand, is quite common and quite successful, all over the world and especially in Western Europe. Basically, Socialism assumes that certain necessities of life are too important to leave to the whims of free-market capitalism. So, in most socialists nations, the citizens pay higher taxes but the government guarantees them either free or reduced-cost health care, medicine, education, housing, elder care, vacations, childcare, etc. While taxes are higher living expenses are less and the quality and quantity of life increases. Ask who the world’s happiest people are and consistently they come from countries with strong socialist systems.
Bear in mind that socialism is an economic system and not a political one. Politically the majority of world socialist nations are democracies. They are led by citizen-elected officials and the citizens have protected rights and freedoms.
Conservatives in America have long fought against socialist tendencies in the US. They see socialism as a threat against an unfettered system of free-trade. Conservative business people want to be able to maximize their profits without government or organized union intervention. And, without regard to what is fair to working Americans. The perfect example is America at the turn of the 20th century. The government pretty much let big business have its way and the result was a huge imbalance of wealth distribution in America. There was a small population that was exceedingly wealthy, a small middle class, and a huge population of working poor who were frequently nothing more than wage slaves.
This began to change and improve with the advent of the modern Democratic Party in the 1920s and 30s. To some degree or another Democrats have sponsored socialist policies and the beneficiaries of those policies have been average Americans. The more socialist the nation became the larger and more prosperous the middle class became. The same was true for the poor but it was a harder and longer fight.
Democrats have been the strongest advocates of socialist institutions such as free public education, affordable college education, public libraries, responsible publics assistance programs, public health standards, environmental protection, care for senior citizens, affordable medical care, affordable medical drugs, child protection, minimum wages, workplace safety, unemployment insurance, etc, These are all socialists ideas and to some degree are a part of life in today’s America. In spite of most Americans participating in and relying on these programs, they are increasingly under attack by a conservative Republican Party that is increasingly owned by the largest and most powerful corporations.
They are also the things that “progressives” want to protect, strengthen, and expand. Instead of being against freedom, as is claimed by conservatives, the progressives in the Democratic Party want to expand freedom by protecting and strengthening the rights of ordinary people. They want equality for the LGBTQ American, the ethnic American, the Black American, the Hispanic or Latino American, Islamic Americans, Jewish Americans, Christian Americans, female Americans, the poor, the infirmed, the challenged, and more. They want the Bill of Rights to be adhered to and expanded to create a freer, more equitable, nation.
Whether Americans will ever open their eyes to these truths is unknown. What I know is that during the “Cold War” Americans were made to believe there was a communist under every rock and we had to waste our blood and wealth to oppose them at every turn. Most did so without question, even though they couldn’t write that basic definition of what it was they were so opposed to.
What Americans have to learn and accept is that there is a vast difference between a benevolent socialist system, like Denmark, and a brutal communist authoritarian system such as that in North Korea. The average American also needs to know that the dog eats dog reality of today’s trickle-down system of wealth is never going to serve their best interest. In spite of the claims, the rich never trickle down. They invest their gains and, grow richer from unearned gains, and pass their wealth on to their children. America’s wealth is increasingly ending up in the fortunes of the one percent and will stay there because their children will be the beneficiaries.
The Kevin McCarthys of politics needs to be added to the scrap heap of history. Socialism and progressivism do not mean loss of freedom as claimed by McCarthy and his ilk. Just the opposite is the reality.