Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Yesterday's socialism is not today's "socialism"

In an era where many even try to apply "new meaning" to the term "is", today's use of the word "socialism" isn't at all what it was in the year that cartoon came out. Socialism was almost a synonym to communism in those years; the 'socialism' term's use even predated 'communism' (look at 'communist' country names for a why of this).

Today's 'socialism' is a buzzword more than anything these days: most politicians who use it eradicate, or glean over, its original definition in relaying it to an audience who doesn't even know what socialism is. It's nothing short of a scare tactic targeting the ignorant.

The 'government controlling things' is all about context: A thoughtless right-winger tends to think of the government as an entity over which he has no control (a fearful attitude almost a faith - and many of this strain elect representatives for their ability to destroy government); a democrat has more of a tendency to see himself as part of the electoral process (the government exists only after the people). So for the fearful former, something government run is out of their control; for the latter, the same is something run by the people and their wishes.

In a perfect world, there should be no need for a government-run system, but today's world is far from perfect: our economic system is rife with both greed and misinformation (or lack of education). There are many (namely those 'special interests' making the most money from the present situation) who would like things to remain exactly as they are. Then there are those who are too uneducated to understand that a better world can exist.

Personally, I'm still indecisive over what role a government should have: Its first and foremost role, and upon this I remain solidly convinced, should be the maintenance and enforcement of law - but how far beyond that should it go? In today's world there exist no laws against misinformation or excess - partly because we the people don't even have a solid definition for the same. If we could determine all that that is detrimental to our economy (in addition to the already-existing laws about our personal selves), the world would be a much better place, but we have yet to do so. The ventures the most prone to abuse and excess are those catering to - or depending on - the largest number of people, as it is logical that this is where the largest profit-seekers go; this explains why the majority of today's riches are detained by so few. We should study our system, determine the excesses that cause its ills, and remedy them through new laws.

I tend to place health care, autoroutes, sanitation, utilities and communications into the same group; all of these should be consistently available to me no matter where I go (or to who I talk to) in my country, and, personally, I am willing to pay for that privilege - that freedom. In this regard, I imagine public services - a name grouping the above - as a non-profit business run by the people, only managed by government - remember that if you don't like how things are run, you can always fire the manager - with your vote. We don't have the same privilege over the private sector (and I'm not suggesting that we ever should), nor do we have a say, in the present system, of which private contractor a politician chooses, or at what price (profit). Something needs to change there, too - something in the order of 'if it's in the interest of all, all should pay'. I don't care where you shop, but I do care about where I am able to go (in the same comfort) and who I can talk to. I'm sure there are many who would define this as socialism, but it is only a very limited small part of its function, and not at all an entire-economy-government controlled system that is 'real' socialism.