What is socialism? by tim Withee
Socialism is defined so many different ways. On one extreme you have
Marxism-Leninism which is total government control of the "means of
production," which meant total government control of everything --
including how people thought. That's nothing new though, because our
government-business complex here in the US heavily depends on what's
called "manufacturing consent," via PR or straight out propaganda.
On the other, you have what the Germans in the early mid-20th Century
called "National Socialism," which was -- aside from the Germanic Death
Cult aspects -- almost like Marxist-Leninist governance in the respect
of total control over the population EXCEPT that private companies were
allowed to flourish. And of course, that's what Fascist Italy was, too.
Then you have the modern social democratic state -- Western Europe
defines that -- capitalism is allowed to flourish -- a bit more
regulated than here, but not too much so -- and the government takes
care of the people's critical social needs such as education -- up to
and including university -- and medical care, which are prohibitively
expensive here in the US to all but those in the upper middle class and
And then you have China which calls itself socialist with a government
structured like a marxist-leninist dictatorship, but is actually a
dictatorship for corporations to do whatever they want -- and people are
allowed more entrepreneurial freedom and can actually make money and
spend it on consumer goods. But they're very carefully regulated as to
what they can do and think and the information they can have access to,
so it's a totalitarian state in that regard.
Then you have Cuba, which after deciding that the Revolution was indeed
Marxist (this took a little time) and tried to stay "pure" to Marxist
ideals, was continually harassed and smacked down by the US, so it could
never flourish in success as a socialist state. They have, despite the
US, developed several industries -- such as biotech, that are world
class, thanks to their outstanding educational system. The country was
badly wounded when the Soviet Bloc went down in the 90s, however and
they had developed a big dependence on goods from the Bloc. The Castro
regime has had to make serious adjustments -- including letting people
go to the US en masse -- from time to time. The socialist system there
may not be doomed to failure, but I would suspect that Cuba in the
future -- and who knows when? -- will be a social democratic state like
those in Europe. I don't see anything close to a free market capitalist
state there anytime soon -- the people there like free education all the
way to where the student's potential will lead them and they like free
medical care. That's not going to go away.
And North Korea? They're been ruled by despots longer than Cuba and you
see the results. Prior to the Korean War, they were the industrial
production leaders on the Korean peninsula -- and clearly they spend far
too much on weapons of war than they do programs of social uplift. It's
a very, very strange country.
As you can see, defining what socialism is and is not is a huge task.
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