Socialismism

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A recent (*) Infowars headline has revealed that “Bernie Supporters Can’t Define Socialism.” Sure enough, Infowars reporter Kaitlin Bennett (aka Kent State Gun Girl) found two high school students who struggled to define it.

But nobody—not even an esteemed political scientist like Alex Jones—can give a definition of socialism that everyone agrees with.

According to MERRIAM-WEBSTER, socialism is: “Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”

OK, but maybe it would be helpful to also get some definitions from a few actual socialists. It takes one to know one, right?

America’s most venerable socialist, BERNIE SANDERS, paraphrases his definition from Franklin D. Roosevelt: “What democratic socialism means to me is having, in a civilized society, the understanding that we can make sure that all of our people live in security and in dignity.”

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ has described socialism as “a transformation about bringing democracy to the workplace so that we have a say and that we don’t check all of our rights at the door every time we cross the threshold into our workplace.”

The funniest definition is by NOAM CHOMSKY, who claims to be both an anarchist and a socialist. He defines socialism as: “A term used freely to apply to anything we are not supposed to like.”

Billboard in Waco, Texas. Photo: David Bonner

As founder of the Soviet Union, LENIN’s definition ought to carry some weight. He declared: “Socialism is nothing but state capitalist monopoly made to benefit the whole people.”

The know-it-all BERTRAND RUSSELL defined it this way: “Socialism, like everything else that is vital, is rather a tendency than a strictly definable body of doctrine. But I think we shall come nearest to the essence of Socialism by defining it as the advocacy of communal ownership of land and capital.”

The eminent Irish dramatist and critic GEORGE BERNARD SHAW (who won both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize) wrote a book called The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism & Fascism (he wrote it for an intelligent woman that he knew), in which he offered this terse definition: “Socialism means equality of income and nothing else.” 

Another great Irishman, OSCAR WILDE, wrote the following in his little bookThe Soul of Man Under Socialism: “Socialism, Communism, or whatever one chooses to call it, by converting private property into public wealth, and substituting co-operation for competition, will restore society to its proper condition of a thoroughly healthy organism, and insure the material wellbeing of each member of the community.”

Although not exactly a definition, a poor farmer from Texas named A.C. WALKER also gave a description of the soul of man under Socialism in a letter to a newspaper editor in 1915. He wrote: “Give us Socialism and the religion of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will move up on a higher plane of Christian living than ever before. The high-salaried preacher that is hired to please and tickle the ears of the people will disappear and men will preach Christ and Him crucified, and they will not be afraid to preach on death, hell, and the judgement, and the people will hear them as they heard the old-time message of the Gospel in the long ago.”   

When he wasn’t writing bestselling stories about wolves, the famous American novelist and adventurer JACK LONDON was preaching socialism, which he defined in his 1907 novel The Iron Heel: “Let us not destroy those wonderful machines that produce efficiently and cheaply. Let us control them. Let us profit by their efficiency and cheapness. Let us run them for ourselves. That, gentlemen, is socialism.”

And finally, here’s one from a scientist named ALBERT EINSTEIN: “I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate the grave evils [of society], namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.”

In conclusion, whichever economic “ism” you worship or hate, it’s probably a good thing to heed the wisdom of ABBIE HOFFMAN, who yipped these immortal words:

“All the isms lead to schisms which lead to wasms.”

[*Editor’s note: It was recent when David turned this story in. I forgot to edit it until today.]

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David Bonner
David Bonner is a Washington Babylon contributing writer and senior analyst of pulp affairs. Direct response copywriter and author of the newly published coffee table book “Selling Folk Music” (University Press of Mississippi).