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Colley: This Isn’t Socialism

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Colley: This Isn’t Socialism

Caleb Colley, Lead Copy Editor

Ever since Senator Bernie Sanders’ incorrect usage of the word “socialist” to describe himself and his own policies, there has been a dramatic increase in the usage of the term by both liberals and conservatives alike. One can go on YouTube and see plenty of videos of all types of pundits criticizing policies of a capitalist welfare state as “socialist” or, on the other hand, see another type call things like libraries and roads “socialist.” They have even resorted to pointing at other countries whether they be Sweden, Venezuela or China and calling them “socialist.” After all these uses of the word, what really is “socialism?”

First, one must define socialism. Generally, it is an economic and political system in which the means of production, distribution and exchange are controlled and regulated by the entirety of society. A more simplified way of describing this is workplaces, whether they be farms or factories, and their products being controlled and distributed as collectively seen fit. Different theories of socialism have different answers for how this should be done; however, this general definition is universally true. This contrasts with capitalism, an economic and political system where the aforementioned things are controlled by private individuals or entities such as corporations.

With these definitions in mind, is Senator Sanders a socialist? No. While he describes policies that he calls “socialist,” the fact of the matter is that he is what is called a “social democrat” in reality. Social democracy, while derived originally for socialist and Marxist theory in the 19th century, is an ideology advocating for generous, state-sponsored welfare programs while retaining in its entirety the capitalist mode of production. Senator Sanders has never advocated for the abolition of capitalism and putting the means of production into the hands of society as opposed to private individuals and entities. 

The only things Sanders has proposed are taxing the rich more just to finance universal healthcare and tertiary education, which are welfare programs within a capitalist context.”

What about those “socialist countries” that Sanders and his supporters always pointed to? They aren’t socialist either. Countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Iceland are as capitalist as the rest of the West. Private ownership of business thrives in these countries, and in fact, these three countries are ranked as having more economic freedom than the United States by the Heritage Foundation. Considering these countries are what Sanders and his supporters seek to emulate, this should be no surprise. Then, there is the People’s Republic of China, a country known for its authoritarian rule by the Communist Party, among other characteristics. This is a trickier topic for a lot of people. Those who call it socialist point to its Communist Party and the fact that it is a constitutionally socialist state. However, when one looks deeper and into the reality of it all, it’s easy to see that it is capitalist. Prime examples include American and European companies running sweatshops and businesses in the country, the domestic economic forces which are largely privately owned, the sheer number of the super-rich, China’s private investments into Africa, and the fact that a large portion of the Central Committee of the Communist Party are billionaires with their own investments and enterprises.

In conclusion, if something is not advocating or has abolished the private ownership of the means of production and associated forces, it is not socialist, “Bernie Bros” and American “democratic socialists” included.

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About the Writer
Caleb Colley, Lead Copy Editor

Caleb Colley is a senior from Walls, Mississippi. He formerly went Lake Cormorant High School before coming to MSMS. Caleb can often be found taking refuge...

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