Forums - Politics Discussion - Is it true that Americans are to this day afraid of socialism?

Yes, and it's in large part because of decades of propaganda, going way back to the days of the Red Scare and McCarthyism early in the Cold War.

In American parlance, many people equate socialism with Marxism and, more specifically, Soviet-style communism, which was nominally based on Marxism. Socialism = communist tyranny is deeply ingrained in much of American political thought. Even though it's been nearly 30 years since the USSR dissolved and even though China (with Vietnam and Laos not too far behind) has long since begun to transition away from a state-owned command economy to a market-based capitalist economy and the Chinese Communist Party quickly becoming communist-in-name-only (though no less authoritarian), red-baiting remains a favorite tactic with many, especially right-wing and libertarian pundits and politicians.

But with no real communist threat on the world stage anymore (aside from North Korea), conservatives' political opponents in America are now deemed to be the new Red Menace threatening freedom and capitalism. Propagandists like Rush Limbaugh and the Fox News pundit squad are constantly trying to frame the Democrats, even centrist corporate Dems, as a horde of literal Stalinists intentionally and maliciously plotting the demise of America and its market economy. Any attempt to critique capitalism's shortcomings is framed as "socialism/Marxism/communism." Things like government-provided services or regulations of private businesses are regarded as a slippery slope leading right down to the front door of a gulag. This year has shown that even things like quarantining or mask-wearing can be framed as literal communism. It's become a knee-jerk reaction to define "socialism" as "anything the government does that I don't like, especially if the Democrats think it's a good idea."

But "socialism" at its core means precisely one thing: public ownership of the means of production. Said public ownership can be indirectly through the state or directly through institutions such as worker co-ops. In its latter form, socialism doesn't even necessarily have to preclude market mechanisms. A completely state-owned command economy is not a prerequisite of socialism. But what counts as part of the means of production? Is state ownership any service "socialism"? Are roads and other public infrastructure, police and emergency services, military forces, public schools, or social insurance and other safety net programs "socialism"?

More importantly, though, does it actually matter whether or not they're socialism? Single-payer healthcare and other programs in other developed nations aimed at benefiting the working class haven't led to Soviet-style communism any more than public roads have. They haven't led to those nations nationalizing their retail stores, restaurants, auto companies, tech companies, movie studios, etc., and they aren't going to. And it won't happen here in America, either.

The Democratic Party as an organization is relatively centrist. It's economic goals have been rather milquetoast for a supposedly "left-leaning" party. Many of its most prominent and mainstream members, including their current presidential nominee, aren't even willing to consider single-payer healthcare or tuition-free college, and are also unwilling to do much that would cause their corporate donors to shy away from them. Forget about wholesale structural changes to our economic institutions. And the supposed "liberal" media are of course owned by massive for-profit corporations who will never allow their employees to advocate for anything that could threaten their business interests. You'll never see an actual socialist hosting a prime time pundit show on CNN or MSNBC, that's for damn sure.

While the party's base has gradually moved to the left, with recent Gallup polls showing that self-identified "liberals" now account for half of all self-identified Democrats (though the Republican party and its base had already moved far to the right when the Democratic base was still overwhelmingly centrist, and continues to move to the right), I would imagine very few of them actually support a totally socialistic economy. And even the most left-leaning Democratic politicians have policy goals that would be noncontroversial in most European nations. Even someone like Bernie Sanders (who's emphatically not a Democrat, even if he ran as one for president) or AOC would be considered bog-standard social democrats outside the U.S. Just because they think rich people should pay a higher tax rate than they currently do or that business should pay their workers a living wage or that we should do something about global warming or that healthcare is a right and not a privilege does not mean they're a bunch of commies out to nationalize Walmart, Apple, Disney, Amazon, Ford, Microsoft, ExxonMobil, Comcast, Wells Fargo, and your local ice cream parlors, hair salons, used record stores, etc. The thought probably never crosses their minds. The idea that the Democrats are somehow literal communists/Marxists/Stalinists/Maoists/whatever-ists is not just factually wrong, it's laughable to the extreme. They are beyond a shadow of a doubt supporters of a primarily market-based economy, with the private sector handling production and distribution of most goods and services.

But whether or not something actually is or is not "socialist" is besides the point with right-wing pundits. It's not nor has it ever been about quaint notions like accurate definitions. The point of propaganda is not to inform. It's to persuade. And more often than not, such persuasion uses intentionally bad-faith arguments and other dishonest means to persuade. To their credit, right-wing propagandists in America have an amazing knack for manipulating language and framing political discourse to serve their own purposes. They've used those skills to achieve two goals: 1) advance the policy goals of the Republican Party, including—but not limited to—supply-side economics, deregulation of private business, and privatization of public services, and B) make their propaganda itself a profitable enterprise.

Their entire business model is predicated on keeping the GOP base in a state of perpetual outrage against the Democrats. By preying upon decades-old fears of communism, they've been able to convince their loyal listeners that only the Republicans can save them from the horrors of "radical leftist Democrats," and that the only way they can do that is by cutting taxes for the wealthy, gutting environmental protections, demolishing organized labor, and generally making things easier for the Job Creators™. They've convinced their audience that what's best for the ultra-wealthy is also what's best for the working class, that any attempt to reign in the excesses of modern capitalism is tantamount to attempting to destroy capitalism, and that the Democrats are literal Marxist socialists with a nefarious left-wing agenda to turn America into a communist state. Even though the pundits' arguments are factually bankrupt, increasingly farcical in nature, and make ever-greater use of baseless conspiracy theories, they work in their intended goal of keeping the conservative base angry. They move the Overton Window further to the right, and their audience follows.

Yes, it is true that every nation with a centralized command economy nominally based on Marxist principles has been an authoritarian single-party state, while every democratic nation has allowed for private ownership of the means of production and has had the private sector comprise the vast majority of its economic output. It's also irrelevant, because not only has the existence of a market-based economy not been a guarantor of freedom and prosperity, but also the goal of the American progressive movement is not to implement a centrally-planned economy, nor to institute a single-party left-wing authoritarian regime. Their goal is to make us more like, well, pretty much every other free and economically-advanced nation. They're thinking Sweden, France, and Germany, not Cuba, Venezuela, or the old USSR. The freest and most prosperous nations have been social democracies, combining a well-regulated market economy with the state providing a strong safety net and certain services (including health insurance and post-secondary education) not effectively allocated by the market.

But the damage to our discourse and our language in general has already been done. Republican politicians and opinion leaders are staunchly opposed to progressive policy proposals because they believe that the government has no business regulating private businesses or providing any sort of social programs to the people (though they are hesitant to outright eliminate popular programs like Social Security and Medicare, which are too popular to eliminate even if conservatives once characterized them as an unacceptable step towards communism), and they have spent considerable money and effort in propagandizing Americans on behalf of an ideology rooted in part in a professed belief in unfettered capitalism. While most Americans do support many prominent progressive policy proposals (alliteration!), such support sometimes depends on how the ideas are being presented. Framing them as "socialism" or "government takeover" gets a more negative response, while more neutral language nets a more positive response. And that's why conservative commentators want people to think of North Korea or Venezuela instead of Norway and Sweden when they hear about those policies.

Most Americans aside from the GOP and their base would be fine with most aspects of social democracy, but many of them really are afraid of anything perceived as "socialist." I'd also say that this is at least part of the reason why Bernie Sanders twice failed to win the Democratic nomination. It wasn't his policy goals, but rather the fact that he flat-out called himself a socialist. Progressives do not need to try to claim "socialism" as a descriptor, because not only is it arguably not accurate, decades of propagandists equating "socialism" with the evils of communist regimes like the USSR have permanently made the term toxic in America, and use of "socialism" as a slur is still useful as a way to make even modest Democratic policy proposals seem absolutely unacceptable even though real-world experience shows social democratic policies are not just benign but beneficial. Unfortunately, messaging often matters more than facts in politics, and the progressive movement has done a far worse job in that regard than the conservatives. By trying to play along with conservatives calling them "socialists" and saying "okay, we're socialists," they'll end up finding themselves even more on the defensive, something the right-wing punditocracy has been doing to them for far too long. The progressive movement needs to do a better job on messaging, to put the right on the defensive for once, and to convince middle America that their goals to adopt programs and policies in place in the rest of the developed world are good for America.



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Id be more open to socialism (more government) if it weren’t for this stuff.. seriously.. the government has to be aware that victimless crime laws creates the black market and all the violent crimes that come with that. Actually they count on it! Because then people go running to the government requesting more government to save them.



invetedlotus123 said:

I read on internet than many people the USA are adamantly against full government funded health system like they have in Europe because they associate it with socialism and if they accept that soon other socialist things will star to happen. 

I know this is a very stereotypical view, mostly from USA media that for a long time used soviétics as villains. 

It all depends on who is benefiting from the socialism over here in America whether people are for it or not. If it's to help the poor and working class, then it's bad, but if it is giving handouts to the wealthy then let's Make it Great Again!!!



Nautilus said:
JRPGfan said:

"Its a facism regime that killed hundreds of millions of people. Everyone should be very afraid of it."

Then you should take note, when people say, they see the current president heading down the rabbit hole, of being a facist.
Germany just like trump supporters, didnt see the danger, until it was too late.

I mean, I know you guys don't like Trump and all, and I do agree that he says some stupid things here and there, but saying that his government is almost akin to a facist ragime? I don't think that even normal people would say that about Biden just out of spite. You guys really need to get your heads out of your asses. Go talk to someone who really lived through hell in these regimes( like people who lived in the USSR or are living in Bolivia right now for example) and be glad that the US allows you to have the freedom and democracy that it gives, and that yes, Trump has maintained.

You know two wrongs dont make a right? right?
When I talk about Trump acting like a autocrat, and potentially being a facist dictator in the makeing.
You going "other places had facists" and then go "not even normal people would say that about Joe Biden"..... what about Trump? just ignore that?
(Also duh! Joe Biden is not the US president, and acting like a facist, if he does once hes in office, normal people would be saying the same thing).


"go talk to someone that lived through hell in these regimes" poor excuse/avoidence too.

I said, just like in germany, Hitlers supporters didn't see the evil of the man, until it was too late.
Your basically proveing my point, as a Trump supporter.

Your ignoreing facts about Trump you dont like.
His way of acting isn't normal, and its edgeing towards becomeing a autocrat/facist, and your not worried at all.

Theres videos of secrete police, that carry no idenfication, dont talk to anyone, drive in unmarked vans, that just kidnapp people off the streets.

"its fine, they shouldn't be out peacefully protesting anyways. This isn't something a facist would do!"

Suuuuure Nautilus.



DonFerrari said:
Hiku said:

I'll have a look. I just think that USA's system is inhumane, and there needs to be some system that guarantees it *channels Bernie voice* "as a yuuuman right" to every citizen.

Governments are inherintanly inneficient and giving stuff for free usually is underappreciated and inflated demand, so it usually makes for a lot of waste money. With tickets government keep only the very basic national sovereign, judicial system and infraestructure. School and Health aren't managed by government, they basically transfer some sort of wealth (coupons) but the hospitals and schools are private and people can choose where they want to use so that can improve competition among schools. Of course that also need to very well defined to avoid entering the problems of guaranteed money to universities inflating prices and similar for the health cost in USA.

However the world has proven its the most effecient way of doing things?
Since the 1 country in the world basically where they dont use that system, things are much more expensive, and overall the service is worse.



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snyps said:


Id be more open to socialism (more government) if it weren’t for this stuff.. seriously.. the government has to be aware that victimless crime laws creates the black market and all the violent crimes that come with that. Actually they count on it! Because then people go running to the government requesting more government to save them.

I'm guessing your against Parking tickets, Speeding tickets ect? Its all just hidden tax's for the state?

"victimless crime laws creates the black market and all the violent crimes that come with that."


Yes because you cannot drive your car 200 mph without being chased by cops, your probably at some black market, doing violet crimes instead!
That makes alot of sense.



Nautilus said:
JRPGfan said:

*facepalm*

Nazi germany wasnt socialism though....

You know how when you want to sell something bad, as something good to fool people? you find a innocnent name for it?
National socialism (nazism) is just that. It had nothing to do with socialism, so you cannot call it socialism, without being dishonest about things.

Since you dont know what socalism or facism is:

Facism:

"a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition"
+
"a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control "

Nationalism, is basically patriotism. Differnt worlds, more or less same meaning.
A Regim that puts nation & race, above the individuals.

Who runs his Presidency campagne on "america first!" ?
uses racism, patriotism..., won by mainly getting just the "white" vote?



"a dictatorial leader, severe economic and regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition"

""a tendency toward or actual exercise of strong autocratic or dictatorial control"

Trump is all about all about Autocracy (authority or rule of the president, one person possesses near unlimited power (unchecked power))
He wishes he had unlimited power, and is working his way to towards it.


Typically alot of these autocrats, and facists, attack journalists, because their "truth" is the only one the public needs to hear.
Remember "Fake news!" ? Seeing the police attacking journalist, during the protests, actively targeting them?

Trump is friends with white power groups.

Atleast back when he ran in 2016.
People in his campagne, were people with ties to white power groups.
Hes since distanced himself from them...

But then theres the tale of his ex-wife, saying he slept with a book on hilter, and his speeches by his bedside.
(and loved to read the speeches before going to sleep)


"....and forcible suppression of opposition"

Remeber when he chanted "lock her up" about his political oppenent? And Trump followers gladly followed his lead?
He asked for russia to hack her emails on live tv, hopeing the russians got dirt on her.
He asked Ukraine on intel on Joe Biden...

Trump isn't far from facism, autocracy, nazism.

"Its a facism regime that killed hundreds of millions of people. Everyone should be very afraid of it."

Then you should take note, when people say, they see the current president heading down the rabbit hole, of being a facist.
Germany just like trump supporters, didnt see the danger, until it was too late.

Who said anything about Nazism?

I am talking here about the Soviet Union, Cuba, China, etc.

All of them have carachteristics of facist regime, even if they implement it under the guise of a socialist/communist regime. Everything you just described was used by these socialist regimes as tools to control the population and stay in power. 

"a political philosophy, movement, or regime that exalts nation and often race above the individual" - Check.(especially for the USSR)

"that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader" - Check.(Raul Castro, Fidel Castro, Stalin, etc) Leaders were appointed by the government, and weren't even elected in any capacity, *cough* in opposition to your ridiculous Trump comparison *cough*

"severe economic and regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition" - Check. I mean, The Wall of Berlin. I don't think anything else needs to be said.

I mean, I know you guys don't like Trump and all, and I do agree that he says some stupid things here and there, but saying that his government is almost akin to a facist ragime? I don't think that even normal people would say that about Biden just out of spite. You guys really need to get your heads out of your asses. Go talk to someone who really lived through hell in these regimes( like people who lived in the USSR or are living in Bolivia right now for example) and be glad that the US allows you to have the freedom and democracy that it gives, and that yes, Trump has maintained.

Who said anything about Nazism? You did, when you equated Socialism to Fascism, which are two totally opposed things.

Also, I answered to you (I think, could have been someone else instead) before that Soviet Communism, which is based on Stalinism, is very far removed from actual socialism and that socialists who weren't under the Soviet Union's thumb called themselves the third camp, opposing both capitalism and the Soviet Union. Actual socialism is based on Trotskyism, and those were the people that Stalin purged from the Soviet Union in 1937-1941, and even went so far to assassinate Leon Trotsky in his Mexican exile. As a result all american depictions of Socialism are from Stalinism, which is like looking at rape porn and then decide from this that all kinds of movies are bad for people.

What is considered socialism in the US would be mostly centrist in Europe, not even center-left, with many of the policies in question not even being questioned by right-wing parties there.

As for the bolded part, my grandparents did, growing up under Nazi occupation in WW2. My gandfather is so terribly afraid of Trump he hopes he dies before shit hits the fan (sadly, I fear he will, my grandpa isn't in very good health anymore now aged 90). The constant lies, the misinformation campaigns, the propaganda, the rhetoric, everything reminds him of what the Nazis did here in Luxembourg under the occupation.



Pyro as Bill said:
If the US diverted it's military spending to health like the British Empire did when it realised it could give everyone 'free' healthcare at the cost of 'Empire', they'll end up with some of the shittest healthcare on the planet per $ spent but will laud it as being the best in the world even though tens of thousands die of plague while other countries with less 'communist' healthcare systems embarrass you with 20% of the same budget.

What the hell are you talking about? That's pure nonsense and rambling. The guy above you talking about social programs being bad was laughable but you are just being ridiculous



Just a guy who doesn't want to be bored. Also

This entire thread can be summed up by THE RED SCARE. Those who bought it fear socialism without understanding it and those that didn't have a much more nuanced view of the world



Just a guy who doesn't want to be bored. Also

JRPGfan said:
DonFerrari said:

Governments are inherintanly inneficient and giving stuff for free usually is underappreciated and inflated demand, so it usually makes for a lot of waste money. With tickets government keep only the very basic national sovereign, judicial system and infraestructure. School and Health aren't managed by government, they basically transfer some sort of wealth (coupons) but the hospitals and schools are private and people can choose where they want to use so that can improve competition among schools. Of course that also need to very well defined to avoid entering the problems of guaranteed money to universities inflating prices and similar for the health cost in USA.

However the world has proven its the most effecient way of doing things?
Since the 1 country in the world basically where they dont use that system, things are much more expensive, and overall the service is worse.

Quick examples. When landlines were owned and managed by government a new line costed about as much as a car to buy, took over 6 month to install and calls also costed a fortune, no wonder it was like 1-5% of the population had phones in their houses. Months after the privatization of the service you could have a line installed in like a week, for 1% of the cost perhaps, and we quickly gone for almost 100% houses having phones. Today with smartphones we almost have 2 lines per person.



duduspace11 "Well, since we are estimating costs, Pokemon Red/Blue did cost Nintendo about $50m to make back in 1996"

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Mr Puggsly: "Hehe, I said good profit. You said big profit. Frankly, not losing money is what I meant by good. Don't get hung up on semantics"

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