Wed, Feb. 26

Letter: Let’s not confuse politics with economics


OK, kids, enough already with the back ‘n’ forth about socialism and such, the latest being a discourse on the alleged abundance of dead people due to socialism – the premise of which is ludicrous on its face.

One more time, folks, socialism is an economics system, just as capitalism is. It is NOT a political system. Totalitarianism, colonialism, imperialism, communism, and fascism, to name a few, ARE political. But they are not in and of themselves an economic ideology per se.

Now has the practice of socialism eventuated in countless deaths? Empirical data might suggest that. Just consider the millions who died under the socialist regimes of the USSR or Castro’s Cuba or Nazi Germany (yes, Nazi Germany – remember that “Nazi” came from National Socialist Workers Party), or the mess that today is Venezuela. Yet you can’t blame socialism. You have to blame how that economic system had/has been implemented, and in every case where socialism has been the economic system of choice, its political twin totalitarianism has ruled.

Pure socialism as Marx and Engels proposed does not work without the “support” and dictatorial oversight of the state, and even then it depends on capitalism to finance the regime.

In short, the dream of socialism is just that – a fanciful and unrealizable dream. It also is a dream that requires the iron fist of absolute and unquestionable rule, and the impact of that fist is too often death. So yes, one could make a case for socialism being responsible for an abundance of dead people.

But here again, it’s not socialism. It’s what the rulers do in such a system, and what they do is political, not economic. Socialism is about money, while the various companion ism’s are about politics, aka power. Do not confuse the two. They are not synonymous.

As for Israel, since Mr. Stack raised this issue, that nation was never “a socialist economy,” despite what the Haaretz newspaper reported. It defined itself as a “Jewish and democratic state” as early as 1947. It was communal in many respects, as was characteristic of the Jewish heritage. But socialist? Never.

So why do I take this sudden detour? Because the conditions by which some might have called Israel socialist are the same that could be used to call America a socialist nation, and the ersatz claims of abundant deaths due to socialism can’t hold water for either country. But once again, socialism is a system. On its own, it is benign. It’s what those in power do with it. That is politics, not economics.

Moreover, you need to be reminded that social programs do not equal socialism. That’s apples and Tootsie Rolls.

But enough. Mr. Stack concludes that “the abundance of death comes from colonialism, fascism, and communism.” He’s right that earlier in his post he denies that socialism is to blame. However, in his conclusion he is wrong.

The abundance doesn’t come from any particular economic or political ideology. It comes from people. No ism kills any more than a Big Mac does.

Michael C. Westlund


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