There’s an awful lot of talk about socialism these days. Bernie Sanders’s Presidential campaign has put socialism into the discourse of mainstream American politics in a way that hasn’t been seen since the end of the Cold War. The Green Party’s National Committee is discussing a proposal to make the anti-capitalist nature of the Party – long a more-or-less unspoken if generally accepted principle – an explicit feature of our platform and our values – in a word, to make the Green Party more socialist.
The problem, though, is that no one can seem to agree on what any of that means. Higher taxes and more benefits? To some, including, seemingly, Bernie Sanders, that’s socialism. Complete nationalization of all productive assets, and 100% state ownership of everything? For others, that’s the core definition of socialism (after all, it was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, wasn’t it?) Doesn’t socialism mean the elimination of democracy? No, no and no. There’s a whole lot more at stake than just “socialism good” or “socialism bad”, but because of that simplification, a whole lot of people end up blurring things together. It’s REALLY important to distinguish between three entirely different concepts, that too often get confused or equated or blurred together in discussions like these. Continue reading