Breaking the Lies: Telling the Truth about Socialism
When people get up and log onto Facebook in the morning they check their messages, status updates, and then may decide to go to a political discussion group on Facebook. They see the usual posts about abortion, and gun rights. One post, however, catches their eye. There are over 900 comments on this post. The topic is about socialism. One person yelling, “Socialism is oppression and is not for freedom!” The other person is yelling back, “No it is not! That is capitalism!” Both give an argument, but you do not know which one to believe. Even though you read through hundreds of comments, you are confused. If somebody does not know what socialism is, how do they know which person is telling the truth? It is hard to tell because anything can be put onto the internet, so it is hard to know which information is accurate, and what information is false. Socialism is a word a lot of people use, yet not many people actually know what the word socialism means. The reason people need to learn the definition of socialism is, so they can really make up their mind on which economic system they prefer. Socialism, or capitalism. If people do not know what socialism means then how will they know which one they will like better? It is time to find out what socialism means, and that socialism is the opposite of capitalism.
How the Word Socialism Got Maligned
Socialism is not the USSR, or Nazi Germany, so if someone say that then he or she is not accurately defining what the word means. Socialism has been misused by a lot of people over the last 100 years people think that the word means a central planned economy. Or a Government controlled economy, and that the workers have no control over what they make, or earn. When countries like USSR (Joseph Stalin) to using the word in the name USSR people get the idea that socialism is a dictatorship by an evil tyrant who is bent on controlling the world. The media has done a good job of telling lies about the word socialism. Try watching Fox News and see if any of their talking heads will give people an honest answer, they will not. They will tell someone that socialism is government control over the people, but that is not what socialism means. The encyclopedia Britannica has an article written by Terence Bell: Socialism, social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources, (Bell, 2013).
The word public in the definition is key since capitalism is for the private ownership of the means of production. When some people hear the word public they think government control, and yes that is one of the meanings of public control, but it also means for workers to control the means of production. The people own what they make, and they make decisions on what days they work, and who works at what position in the company; which means socialism is the opposite of capitalism. Capitalism means workers have a boss who tells them how much they are worth, how much they can work, and what position they can work. Bell gives more detail on what socialism means, “Everyone who contributes to the production of a good is entitled to a share in it. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all its members” (Bell, 2013).
All the workers in a socialist economy will benefit, not just a few bosses at the top of the company.
Books by Socialists
Reading books about socialism, and by socialist authors will help people learn more about socialism. The people will get more of what the author is trying to say. Emma Goldman is one of the most famous socialists, and her book Red Emma Speaks is a brilliant book, and one of the big lies it debunks is how the USSR was not socialist. Goldman claims the USSR had more in common with state capitalism than it did with socialism, and it was private business owners, not the workers, who got most of the profits. She also mentions syndical socialism, which is one of the different types of socialism. Syndical socialism involves unions that control the society like a government (Goldman, 1996).
Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s Property is Theft is another brilliant book. Proudhon claims private property is theft, and how it takes away from the soul of the individual. Proudhon thought the state, and business controlled the workers to keep the elite happy (Proudhon, 2011). Property is Theft is a long book, but it is a book that will give people more insight on what a socialist thinks about the role of government and business.
The next book is Michael Harrington’s Socialism: Past, and Future. This was the last book that Harrington wrote, and he does a good job of telling the people how socialism has changed how the word has been misused, and socialism can be implemented into a modern economy (Harrington, 2011).
Finally Leo Huberman and Paul M. Sweezy’s Introduction to Socialism: Including the ABC of Socialism. This might be the best book on the subject of socialism; people will learn the most about the topic from this book. Huberman, and Sweezy use painstaking detail and tons of research to lay out the different forms of socialism and the historical figures in socialism (Huberman & Sweezy, 2010).
Get Accurate Information
Anyone can put information on the internet, so just because someone reads it somewhere does not make it an accurate source, so how does someone tell who is telling people the truth? Here is an example of a huge lie about socialism a lot of the media, (Fox News) tell people that the Nazis passed Germany’s universal health care law, (UHC), but just doing a simple google search, and anyone can see that this is simply not an accurate statement. UHC was in fact, passed Germany in 1883. Anne Underwood interviewed Uwe E. Reinhardt who said “In 1883 Otto von Bismarck passed the Imperial Insurance Order” (Underwood, 2009).
Now why is this an accurate source? Because Uwe E. Reinhardt is a professor of health and economics, and he has lived in Germany so he knows a lot about the history of this topic. Also he has credibility, and is a trusted figure on the subject not some radio host, or news anchor who is paid by a big corporation to push an agenda. How could the Nazi’s pass the law since the law was passed 51 years before the Nazis got elected, so how can anyone know who is telling the truth? There are articles that claim that the Nazis did pass UHC, so here is how to do it. The name of the author, and who wrote the article is important. Google has a lot of articles on the subject, and fact checking sites like PolitiFact and Fact Check dot org are there to debunk any lie, and dot coms are not that trustworthy since the main reason to start a dot com site is to make money, so dot orgs, dot govs, and dot Edus are a lot better since their function is to inform people, and not to make money. There are some good dot coms though. If the site is a reputable site like the Encyclopedia Britannica, or PolitiFact those are sites that are there to give information. Those sites do not get paid to spread lies, and misinform the public. See who owns the website, if the site is independently owned, or if they are a school, or a trusted expert. This will help people find more accurate information about socialism.
After reading this, it will be a lot easier to spot sources lying about socialism, and those being honest. People who get emotional in a debate are not the most critical of thinkers anyway. They are going on emotion and not on what is the truth. It will take a long time to undo the damage that the media and websites with agendas have done to the word socialism but with a lot of work, the damage can be undone. Socialism is Democracy at its core where people get to decide how much they make, what they own, and how many hours they work just to name a few of the benefits of socialism. Over time, more, and more people will be able to learn the true meaning of the word socialism, and people will not believe the lies anymore.
Bell, T. (2013, December 30th). Socialism. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Brittanica: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/551569/socialism
Goldman, E. (1996). Red Emma Speaks. (A. K. Shulman, Ed.) Humanity Books.
Harrington, M. (2011). Socialism: Past and Future. Arcade Publishing. Retrieved March 18th, 2014
Huberman, L., & Sweezy, P. M. (2010). Introduction to Socialism: Including the ABC of Socialism. Aakar Books. Retrieved March 18th, 2014
Prouhdon, P.-J. (2011). Property is Theft. (I. McKay, Ed.) AK Press.
Underwood, A. (2009, September 29th). Healthcare Abroad: Germany. Retrieved from New York Times: http://prescriptions.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/09/29/health-care-abroad-germany/?action=click&module=Search®ion=searchResults%230&version=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fquery.nytimes.com%2Fsearch%2Fsitesearch%2F%23%2Fanne%2Bunderwood%2F