Dan Popp
Socialism? What Socialism?
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By Dan Popp
February 28, 2019

If anything is certain, it is that I myself am not a Marxist. – Karl Marx

Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country. America was founded on liberty and independence – not government coercion, domination, and control. We are born free, and we will stay free. Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country. – President Donald Trump, State of the Union speech 2/05/19

I understand why Socialists don't want to call Socialism "Socialism." If you were peddling a product that had killed over a hundred million people, you would call it something else, too. But I don't see how anyone truly opposed to Socialism could claim that there ain't no Socialism here.

If the State of the Union speech had been given in 1934, it would have at least made sense. But, with all due respect to the President, in 2019 the statement "America will never be a socialist country" is just cuckoo. The U.S. has been a predominantly Socialist country during all of my lifetime, and during all of the President's lifetime. And the cancer of Socialism has been growing over those years. Yes, Mr. President, "America was founded on liberty," but some of our elders were the last to be "born free."

From "Social Security," to Medicare and Medicaid, to over 70 overlapping means-tested "welfare" programs, to innumerable subsidies, to Obamacare and beyond, we're up to our nostrils in the sewage of Socialism. And no, that's not a good thing.

Over 60% of the federal budget consists of transfer payments, usually called "entitlements." How's that for a Marxist term? You're rightfully entitled to enjoy what someone else has produced. That's Socialism.

Now, I see Conservatives playing along with the euphemism shell game, so let's spend a moment on this. Before Marx, someone using force to obtain what someone else had earned was called a "robber," and his actions were called "robbery." If the criminal gave some of the stolen goods to others in order to buy their loyalty, this was known as "distributing the loot." These are the true and proper names of these activities.

To parse the infinite shades of shady terms like Socialism, Democratic Socialism, Social Democrat-ism, Progressivism, Fascism, Fabian Socialism, Communism, Stalinism, etc. etc. etc. is an exercise for fools. The only relevant distinction is: Does my property belong to me, or not? All governments that take what is yours and dole it out to others are on the wrong side of that line. I don't care what liars and robbers prefer to be called.

Barbarians love to use the phrase "the general welfare," as if that phrase in the Preamble erased every word that comes after it. But Conservatives should turn that phrase against such people because it contains the antidote to Socialism. The national government is empowered to do certain things for the general welfare – only – not for the benefit of particular groups or persons.

Taking a dollar from you and using it in an effort to stop a foreign invasion is a legitimate government function because repelling that attack is in everyone's interest. The general welfare is upheld. On the other hand, taking a dollar from you and giving it to Susie (for whatever reason) does not advance the general welfare. Though it may increase Susie's individual welfare, at least in the short term, it decreases your choices, well-being, and liberty.

You can't have redistribution for the general welfare.

I think the President is straining the gnat and swallowing the camel. Socialism isn't just about mass graves, and eating Fido with no ketchup, and feeling nostalgic about toilet paper. It's about whether I can use the force of government to take your stuff. For a good cause, of course. Always. And that happens a lot in America; maybe so much that the Socialism here has become invisible.

But in order to fight Socialism, you have to see it. Not just the Marxism that happens at a distance, but that which occurs right under our nose bearing a compassionate name, and the seal of the benevolent state. And I'm afraid that many Americans, including the President and some Conservative writers, have become selectively blind.

© Dan Popp

 

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