People seem to have a hard time defining socialism. As one person recently told me, it’s become nothing more than a four-letter word. It’s this catch-all for things people find different and therefore scary, and some are willing to define it as all-things-bad. This recent article really captures the point:
I heard on the radio a host list several components of fascism, including tyranny, government laws are more important than the individual, glorification of the nation, no dissent allowed, racism and intolerance. So I paused to listen. To my shock, not a minute later the host labeled this list of traits as “socialism.”
The author also points out the confusion over Nazis. I once personally found myself in a debate with a routinely inane and dishonest individual who actually argued that Nazi Germany was a socialistic nation because they used the word “Socialist” in their party name. To be fair, I think that person was just plainly ignorant in that case, but it was still pathetic to read. As the article says:
“Those people who insist that Hitler was a socialist show their ignorance about Nazi Germany. During the first half of the 20th Century, socialism had many meanings. When Hitler talked about Nazi socialism, he was describing the average German’s supposed social responsibilities to the State. Real socialists- social progressives- were usually sent to the concentration camps.” Author Jonathan Maxwell, Murderous Intellectuals: Nazis and the German Elite (personal correspondence April 13)
Whether socialism works or not, or whether it’s a good thing or not, is one issue, but it’s difficult to get there. When people run around conflating it with things they just don’t like, we can’t even have a decent discussion.