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.