Encountering an American that is pro-socialism means that you have either lost your way in hippy-alley or found a true Communist. It is always with a bit of wary that socialism is discussed, and it is always dismissed at the end of the debate, often as being less free. I want to show why socialism isn’t wrong.
First of all we must all agree on two things: 1. We are all human beings and 2. Socialism is not communism.
Why the former?
Well, as a member of the species we all need a group of things in order to survive; oxygen, water, shelter, food, perhaps clothing, security from internal or external violence (police and defence) and from cradle to grave you will need to be taken care of from time to time (childhood, injury, old age).
A Socialist State provides these necessary services from the outset. They are paid for by the entire community as taxes on income, wealth, property (and many, many more usually). In my country, before becoming a full-time student, I paid some 50% of my income in taxes, which to the American mind sounds a lot like robbery. Why should the state get half of what I earned through my sweat?
It is because I get the returns in double; 1) I get the necessities or the guarantee of the necessities (I don’t need a hospital full-time, thankfully, but when I do I can just show up) and 2) I am relieved of the hassle, getting more time to walk my dog and read books, and other worthwhile things.
In a Capitalist state you will still need the same things as I do in order to survive, you are still a human being, but you, your family or perhaps no one (if you are left on your own) will have to provide. You get to keep a greater amount of your income, paying for say, police, defence and paved roads; and in return you have to spend the time outside your working hours making sure that you have a good enough ensurance for health and home, which may be worthwhile to some, but I do believe you may have other things you’d rather spend your time on earth doing. In addition, the insurance may still come and bite you in the butt because of an unknown “pre-existing condition”, bankruptcy of the company and other things you cannot control.
It is proven that economically, health services in the Capitalist state costs more than in the Socialist state; in addition it is evidently not guaranteed and it is not better. So much is proven.
In a Capitalist state, then, you are much better off if your family already has a lot of resources. And conversely, you are much worse off if your family has little resources. If you in are born disabled or cannot work due to injury, the burden is put on those close to you (if any). You better get rich or die tryin’.
In which of these societies are you more free?
Is it the one in which where necessities are provided for and you can do what you want, or the one in which the necessities are not provided for and you can do what you want (but will have to provide for necessities too)? Is it the one in which your individuality is guaranteed by the state, meaning that you can do it all on your own if you want to, or the one in which you may have individuality if you are born rich or become rich? Is it the one in which everyone is equal as individuals or the one in which nobility still thrives?
The argument usually turns here with point 2. Equating Socialism and Communism.
This statement is false. Both the Socialist state and the Capitalist state as sketched above can exist in a state of democracy, for instance, the Scandinavian countries Norway and Sweden, and the United States of America. (Whether the latter actually IS a democracy, having but 2 political parties, is a different matter.)
State Socialism just means that you recognize that human beings are social beings (we want to help each other by nature). It does not mean what State Communism mean, e.g. DDR or USSR, in which the Marxist agenda is taken literally and the many are ruled by the few. Both Socialism and Capitalism as Democracies have guarantees against Communism (or totalitarian regimes in general). So equating Socialism with Communism is like saying Capitalism is Anarchy.
Then the argument says: But Socialist states are more prone to being taken over by Communist totalitarians. Again, this proves difficult in a democracy; however, the ideas of Socialism and the ideas of Marxism are related in recognizing humans not as individuals only, but as (individuals) born into a pre-existing community, without which humanity would disappear. Because unlike some animals, human beings are 100% dependent on other human beings from birth. Then at adulthood they may have times of greater vulnerability. The “Socialist doctrine” simply acknowledges that fact, and provides for a state in which the necessities are taken care of by the state, so that you do not have to rely on luck for survival — as in either being born into a rich family or staying healthy for long enough to get rich..
Furthermore, who do you think have the strongest incentive to monitor and control their citizens? The state run by citizens to provide for its citizens or the state run by the richest to create more riches for the richest?
I am as much against State Communism as I am against other types of Dictatorships.
Americans have two things working against them with regards to socialism: I. The Philosophy of the Frontier and II. Capitalist propaganda (that served its function during the War as creating a clear Enemy, and later as fuelling the fear of Socialism to ensure that the powerful stay powerful). Today the latter is known as consumerism.
With regards to the Philosophy of the Frontier; it may be time to recognize that the Earth is not some empty land we must exploit as much as possible before we die. This Philosophy never had any truth, but it did absolutely keep those frontiers alive a hundred years ago, and as such had a use. The same philosophy was probably rampant in Norway also, when the glaciers smelted, and the agriculturalists pressed out and assimilated the hunter-gathererers. However: Those days are over. With regards to propaganda: See for yourself. The truth is apparent to anyone who dare seek it.
Unfortunately, in debates, many Socialists will say that Capitalists are stupid, or that Capitalism is stupid. This is true, in terms of being an ignorant way to go about your business; why pay more for the same necessities that you already need anyway? It is always taken as an affront, but should be taken as: “We are sorry you are being screwed. That is stupid.”
Because Capitalism itself has a horrible fact working against it: Perpetual growth is a lie. The Earth is round. And sadly , the citizens and not the rulers, of the Capitalist state, are the ones who will have to pay. I promise we will do our best to help you out when the time comes, socialists at heart and that.