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Unlike anyone else in the political sphere who uses this term, I am going to do two things
with the word 'socialism'.  I am going to properly define the term, then I am going to actually use the term within the context of that definition.  As modern as our society is, and as frequently as this term has been applied to deride the social status of wage-earning individuals, this has never been done before.  So you --  YES, YOU - are bearing witness to an historical event.  

Socialism is the process by which a group of people come to a consensus.

Briefly demonstrating socialism in action:  Townsfolk debating whether or not to employ a cop - consensus opinion is that yes, the town needs a cop.  OK, now how do WE fund the cop's employment?  In many cases, the town is incorporated and the town's officers make the necessary decisions on behalf of the town.  

That is it, folks.  That is socialism.  Socialism is nothing more than a group of people coming to a consensus agreement.  It doesn't take rocket science to understand socialism.  There are no added assumptions about property ownership;  no funky distribution theories;  no banks (yet); and for God's sake, no Libertarians, Communists, Democrats or Republicans.  Socialism is just people coming together to figure out how they are going to pay for a fucking cop for their stupid, crummy town.  

So who cares about socialism?  Sociologists care.  Who the fuck else would give a shit about the real meaning of socialism?    You think Dick Cheney cares about whether or not some dinky-assed town in the middle of nowhere finds a funding source for its cop?  Hell, Dick Cheney has enough money to personally own an army of cops - for their entire lives, including retirement - not that Dick Cheney would want to dispose of that cop before he (or she) reached retirement age.

So, presuming I am a sociologist, (would I actually admit it if I were???  Being a sociologist could be worse than being gay ...) and I know what socialism is.  Whats next?  

Well, there's different ways groups of people come to consensus.  Saddam gets up and says "We're going to do it MY way!"  and everyone says, "OK."  That, obviously, is a dictatorial form of socialism.   Then there's what happened in the 1700's right here in the US of A - "Fuck the goddammed british.  We'll rule ourselves!"  And a republican form of government was instituted.  For you idiot children of wealthy parents, let me spell it out for you:  that's R-E-P-U-B-L-I-C-A-N  S-O-C-I-A-L-I-S-M.

Now that I have properly defined socialism, I have something very important to say.  And that is:  Our current republican form of government is degenerating into a coalition between theocratic socialism and corporate socialism.

And that is all I have to say for now.

Originally posted to sundex on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:48 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Well said. (none)

    If you dance with the devil, then you haven't got a clue; 'Cause you think you'll change the devil, but the devil changes you. - illyia

    by illyia on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 08:59:28 PM PST

  •  Some people get together and say... (none)
    We all have a little bit of money saved, but we don't know what to do with it. What say we loan it to this new guy here so he can build a house, and he pays us back a little at a time? When we get enough more, we'll do it again, and then we can pick a sharp-eyed judge of his fellows to make sure we don't loan it to any layabouts or slug-a-beds!  Voila! A socialist bank, complete with president. All that's missing is a top hat and striped pants.

    We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office. Aesop (620 - 560 BC)

    by AWhitneyBrown on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 09:26:16 PM PST

  •  Well... (none)
    I must say, that is pretty much the most unusual use of the term I've ever heard.

    As far as I know, the traditional use for rather a long time has been to designate the organization of societies where productive property is held in common.

    Hell, I can't even think of it having been used in any other sense. Of course, I'm a student of political science, not sociology. YMMV.

    On the other hand I would like to completely contest your argument that Saddam style decision making can in any way be construed as consensus. Consensus implies genuine agreement between the decision makers and the concept doesn't strike me as compatible with having a decision imposed.

    •  Socialism (none)
      Socialism has long been misunderstood.

      "... the organization of societies where productive property is held in common..." This is communism, or communist socialism. Contemporary political scientists don't seem to distinguish communist socialism from simple socialism.

      Saddam's entry into his country's leadership was consensus, and genuine at the time of his installment. The leadership was his to keep until it was removed - again, by consensus. Hence a dictatorial socialism. Every decision he made while in position as leader was made on behalf of the people of Iraq.

      Isn't it understandable that when a group gives its power to a leader, the leader acts of behalf of that group until that group takes the power away by whatever means (law, coup, death, etc.) or the group ceases to exist?

      •  I'm sorry but, (none)
        You're wrong.

        Communism is neither the first nor only strain of socialism that has productive property held in common at its center. In particular, two popular strains of socialist thought that predate the development of Marxist socialism and communist socialism are Saint-Simonianism and Owenism (named after Robert Owen).

        This Wiki entry on socialism does a decent job of listing the history and variety of socialist thought.

        •  Wrong - NOT! (none)
          This argument is going to boil down to the meaning of socialism as it was used in historical context vs. its pure, simple meaning derived from the term's root.

          Socialism, in its purest form, is group of people coming together to do something as a unit.  In order for a group of people to act as a unit, a consensual agreement is inherently implied.  

          •  No, that wasn't what I'm arguing about. (none)
            I understand that you are not using socialism in its historical sense, I was simply stenuously defending the fact that the historical usage of the term is to refer to systems where political power and productive property are held in common and that this is a feature of virtually all historical socialisms and not just communist socialism.

            I have no quarrel with your use of the term in this diary really, I was mainly disagreeing with your labeling historical socialisms as "communist socialism" which was demonstrably false.

            •  OK, understood. (none)
              But the point I am trying to get across remains that any ideology or assumptions about property cannot be properly ascribed to the term socialism - standing alone - even in its historical context.  The ideology and assumptions should not be applied until the socialism in question is described more thoroughly, using communism and Owenism as examples.

              It is also very important to point out that in contemporary US political usage, the term socialism is almost always INTENDED to evoke fears associated with communism.

  •  It's high time somebody (none)
    came forward with an accurate definition. Given that every good thing in this nation is the product of socialism, you have to wonder how the word socialism came to be equated with anti-americanism?

    Of course the corporatists and the theologians both know people working together for the common good is bad...bad for them because if people wised up they'd realize they don't need either of these institutions.

    Parties divide, movements unite.

    by Gegner on Thu Dec 22, 2005 at 11:53:04 PM PST

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