For political purposes, we have redefined Socialism as something it is not. We need to be able to say that Socialism has failed every time it has been tried. But increasingly, we have been saying that socialism is anything we do not like leading to examples everywhere of Socialism working. Countries with single-payer medicine, a large social safety net, great public transportation are doing just fine, thank you. When we say socialism is something it is not, we set ourselves up to live Socialism because we are not credible. The young people who never knew a real Socialist country already think Denmark is an example of a Socialist country.
The Creation of Socialism
Marx is still studied today because he had a strong grasp of Capitalism’s problems, not because he found a solution. Germany had been in depression for decades. Looking around Germany, he saw people who wanted and needed everything. There was no shortage of demand for goods. In addition, everybody wanted a job. So with plenty of work to do and plenty of people to do it, where was the problem? He correctly surmised that the people who owned the means of production were incapable or did not want to make anything. Why would they? Nobody could pay for it because they had no jobs. Marx reasoned that if everybody just went to work, we would all have a lot more stuff. It could have worked.
The first step to creating a Socialist country is collective ownership of the means of production so that work can begin. It does not say anything about what kind of government you have. It has nothing to do with government benefits. It is just a discredited economic theory. That said, there are zero cases of the owners giving up their property and power gleefully. But any candidate who is not advocating the collective ownership of the means of production is not a Socialist either. No amount of taxes on a capitalist business makes it Socialism. No amount of regulation makes it socialism. The owner can simply stop making things if the deal is not equitable anymore. They still own the means of production.
Communism is Not Socialism on Steroids
Marx hypothesized that once everybody started working, there would be a huge surplus of goods. So huge that there would be no need to ration the production. Your neighbor could pop over and say, hey buddy can you give me one of your cars? Mine is dirty, and I need to go see my mom. Sure, buddy. I was going to pick up a new one this afternoon anyway.
In this age of superabundance, the need for the government would disappear, and it would wither and die. Paydays? We have so much of everything that nobody charges for goods anymore. We don’t need money. Everybody is so rich that there is only one class. Rich class. This is the definition of communism: A classless, cashless society with no government. Who could be against communism if it worked?
In Conclusion, words matter. When we teach our children that having a social safety net is Socialism, we undermine the entire argument against Socialism. Because if Social programs are Socialism, then there are plenty of examples of Socialism working. Hence Socialism will return.