The words “socialism” and “socialist” have for years been weaponized and hurled at any idea, individual, policy or political party that the hurler judges to be less conservative or more liberal than his or her own credo: or that the hurler wishes to discredit or besmirch, knowing that the “S” words can be effectively condemning and degrading.

That’s because many people, conservatives and liberals alike, have been programmed to conflate socialism with communism and the atrocities associated with it.

For example, Galvestonian David Stanowski declared that large metropolitan areas are “urban socialist regimes” (“Reynolds v. Sims is why socialists dominate Texas,” The Daily News, Aug. 22). He doesn’t define the term or explain his analysis, but bemoans that such regimes dominate “rural traditionalism.” He doesn’t define that either, though traditionalist philosophies basically promote strict adherence to the past.

The context in which Stanowski uses these terms, a critique of the Reynolds v. Sims Supreme Court decision (1964) and the number of state senators that decision allows, doesn’t explain or justify the terms “urban socialist regime” or “urban socialism.”

My argument isn’t with Stanowski’s critique of Reynolds v. Sims, though Texas having 254 senators would surely produce a comedy of errors; it’s with the McCarthyist subterfuge of labeling opponents and opposing ideas as un-American — socialist being the slur du jour.

This incendiary practice is flaring up like Amazonian rain forest fires and most of the smoke is emanating from the far-right sectors of the American political jungle. The Machiavellian tenet that the end justifies the means is dangerously corroding our democracy as surely as the polar ice caps are melting.

We would be wise to heed Madeleine Albright’s warning that fascism feeds on a gullible electorate whose grievances are readily placated by lies, deflections, smoke and mirrors.

Compare the definitions of socialism with what someone is labeling socialist. While a handful of Democratic legislators promote democratic socialist policies (e.g., universal health care or free college education), neither they, nor the Democratic party, has publicly advocated for the elimination of private property and for governmental ownership and administration of the production and distribution of goods. Yet they’re systematically labeled socialists.

The United States is a democratic republic that’s being attacked from inside and out. We must all honor and protect it before, like the rain forests and ice caps, it disappears while we watch — but fail to see.

James Templer lives in League City.


(24) comments

Carlos Ponce

"The goal of socialism is communism." - Vladimir Lenin

Cary Semar

To conflate liberalism with socialism is a slander, but if you want to go down that path, we could conflate conservatism with fascism. The fact that two different ideologies have some characteristics in common does not make them the same. For your amusement, I offer you a quote from Ambrose Bierce's "The Devil's Dictionary."

"A conservative is a statesman enamored of present evils, as opposed to a liberal, who wishes to replace them with others."

Carlos Ponce

So Cary Semar quotes from "The Devil's Dictionary"?

Gary Scoggin

If you can’t argue facts, get personal.

Carlos Ponce

Who's getting personal, Gary? FACT: He quoted from "The Devil's Dictionary" - a book I've never heard of and have never seen in anyone's library. Do you have a copy, Gary Scoggin?

Bailey Jones

Carlos - you've never heard of Ambrose Bierce's "The Devil's Dictionary"? I learned about it in middle school. Are they no longer teaching American classics? Please don't tell me they've also done away with Mark Twain.

Litigation, n. A machine which you go into as a pig and come out of as a sausage.

Piano, n. A parlor utensil for subduing the impenitent visitor. It is operated by depressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience.

Rear, n. In American military matters, that exposed part of the army that is nearest to Congress.

Me, pro. The objectionable case of I. The personal pronoun in English has three cases, the dominative, the objectionable and the oppressive.

My favorite - the one I remember from school all these decades later - LAWYER -n. One skilled in circumvention of the law.

Gary Miller

Without sociialism communism is not as bad.

Jessie Brantley

It is difficult to understand the point of the writer’s column. One can only assume it was his desire to prey on a gullible electorate with grievances readily placated by lies, deflections, smoke and mirrors. The statements throughout the complaint only evidence an ignorance regarding the terms, ideas and history the author discusses.

Bailey Jones

This is why I don't care for labels. When I hear someone drop the S bomb, especially followed by the V bomb, I know they're just parroting the latest right wing talking point and have nothing substantive to add to the conversation. Let's talk policy - that's where the ideas are.

Charles Douglas

I'm going to make this one short and sweet! I hear this guy talking, but he is NOT SAYING squat!!!!! He puts me in mind of a movie I saw years ago where a group of POD ALIENS from outer space , were sent to live inside weak minded humans on the earth to prepare it for annihilation! Sir, keep your free college, free reparations, free corn bread mister!! Give me equal opportunity to maximize my potential, my gifts, and my talents, is all I need or want! Just so you know DOC, I have already proved my way which is biblical, to be effective and true! "I can do all things through CHRIST which strengthened me." ( Philippians 4: 13 ) Thanks anyway sir, but you can't measure up to, nor take the place of that!!! You can deceive some, but never all! Some of us Ole Plowboys, who use to be "PO" know a little bit about the benefits and returns we get when we invest in GOD and hard work!

Bailey Jones

Charles, I believe you are my new favorite conservative.

Charles Douglas

Really? Stop playing!!!! You mean that? Thank you Mr. Jones!!! Lol You know, I might not agree with your views, but you always come across as respectful. Nothing wrong with sharing views and ideology in this great country if it is done in a respectful manner.

Bailey Jones

I don't always agree with what you're saying - or even necessarily understand what you're trying to say - but I love the way you say it.

Jim Casey

Conservatives have been labeling people and proposals that they dislike as socialist at least since Eugene Debs ran for president. Later conservatives became fond of accusing their opponents of being communist and un-American. At this point, socialism is as meaningless as "booger-head."

Bailey Jones

Jim, I'm currently reading a book about the 1919 race riots. According to the (mostly conservative) press at the time, the riots weren't due to the lynchings, but to the Bolsheviks!

Miceal O'Laochdha

Bailey, I think you may find the underlying reasoning behind that is rooted with the Wobblies welcoming black working men and women to join the IWW. One Big Union!

Bailey Jones

Sure, unions have always been labeled as socialist and communist. But I think the Bolshevik scare was more about imagined agents - those dreaded outside agitators coming in to fluster our good Negroes.

Miceal O'Laochdha

I think we are on the same page, different paragraph Bailey. People like Joe Hill, Harry Lundberg, Andrew Furunseth and Harry Bridges WERE indeed considered to be outside Communist agitators not least because they were not born in America and they actively encouraged black men AND women to join not just the IWW but later the SUP, SIUNA, and ILWU. As to the use of the term Bolsheviks it was used interchangeably with Commie. Very few in America took the trouble to understand the difference between the Mensheviks and the Bolsheviks.

Charles Douglas

Excuse me sir, were you speaking about socialism or racism? Sounds like Mr. Pot calling Mr. Kettle ...Mettle!!!! I'm not saying ...but I'm just saying....

Gary Miller

Nothing free has the value of anything earned. We suffer under a socialist tax code and socialist public school system.The tax code isn't fair to earners and school system isn't free.

Paula Flinn

Medicare and SS are great programs.

Govt. subsidies are also social programs.

Our farmers need them this year because their markets have disappeared.

Carlos Ponce

Interesting. In a previous forum you disliked SS because they reduced your SS check upon receiving a TRS annuity check. Now it's a "great" program.

Paula Flinn

I never disliked it. My SS has remained the same. My TRS decreased by a few bucks, but I still like both of them.

Medicaid is great too, for those who truly need it. If you are hurt at work or are a veteran, disability is good. When I broke my ankle at work, Workman’s Comp. Ins. was good.

Carlos Ponce

"I never disliked it. My SS has remained the same. My TRS decreased by a few bucks". Are you sure it wasn't the other way around? Yhe TRS and SS websites state otherwise:

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