Jack’s Wednesday post hits the ground running and appears on Wednesday
I try hard to avoid political posts, so this one won’t take positions (much) but I get a bit frustrated by the lack of understanding about political movements by many folk here in the United States. Here are definitions offered by a Scottish Quaker who doesn’t have a lot to do with politics, but taught these definitions for about three decades:
Communism is a perfectly normal philosophy which you may or may not agree with. It was very popular in the US between 1930 and 1946. It believes in ‘from everyone according to their means and to everyone according to their needs’. Marxism is not the only branch. Communism has been used to scare Americans since 1917—often very successfully. Beware people who yell beware the communists.
Anarchism (not to be confused with anarchy) is also a perfectly legitimate philosophy. It believes in local democracy but is against nations and national governments. It does believe in co-operation between local institutions to help further the common good.
Socialism is another perfectly normal philosophy which is usually the political face of organized labor. The word ‘socialist’ has often been hijacked by non-socialist organizations such as the German Nazi party of the 1930s and 40s which was completely opposed to organized labor (preferring slave labor) and Socialism.
Fascism is yet another normal belief and still quite widespread. Fascists believe that society should be ruled by a deserving class. Either through race, religion, bloodline (royalty) or military power. No elections and no democracy.
Oligarchy is like fascism, except it holds elections. But only the people who can afford it vote, and only those who can afford to run for office, do so. So it is kind of a rich-favoring democracy. America is an oligarchy.
Capitalism is the (again, perfectly normal) belief that market forces (supply and demand) results in a balanced economy and community. However it doesn’t allow for any safety net for the disadvantaged in society.
Social Democracy is the form of government practiced by most Northern European nations and many others around the world. It aims for a balance between capitalism and socialism and with a safety net for disadvantaged citizens paid for through taxation. This is also a completely normal philosophy.
Proportional representation is a voting system which usually results in a multi-party coalition government, unlike the two party systems which have long predominated in the UK and the USA. It forces compromises and gives all voters a sense of ‘ownership’.
I’m not a member of any political party and haven’t been for a very long time, but I’d describe myself as a social democrat. Despite the fact that many people would deny it the USA is a Social Democracy with many services and safety nets paid for through taxes or contributions including infrastructure, Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security etc.
I posted this because of the amount of misinformation I see every day on Twitter and FaceBook. I’d love to see some comments.
Liked this so much I printed a copy to keep on the wall. Debating whether to share on FB, which I like to reserve as a no-politics space, but I do think it needs to be read widely. Thanks Jack. We’ll see. If it gets ugly I could just delete the post, eh?
Jack here – by all means share and copy it!
I posted this earlier. Please post next to each system the benefits it has provided to the country and people it has served. That would be much appreciated.
Should Social Security (funded by working participants and their employers) be included with tax-funded programs? These definitions are excellent! Thanks.
To everyone above – I was careful to try simply to describe the different philosophies. I was concerned at the ignorance displayed on line as well as knowledgeable people deliberately miss-using some terms. As for the merits or otherwise of the different systems, that’s for you to decide.
Enjoyed the article. Very enlightening. But I am a little confused…is America/USA an oligarchy or a social democracy? You said both, I think…
It’s a bit of both – It does have something of a safety net and pays for it and for infrastructure via taxation. But it’s a 2 party system with both parties bankrolled by oligarchs.
t’s a bit of both – It does have something of a safety net and pays for it and for infrastructure via taxation. But it’s a 2 party system with both parties bankrolled by oligarchs.