The columnist George Will writes of Friedrich Hayek having said almost a century ago that socialism puts society on the road to serfdom. Someone from Canada writes: "Odd, I have government-funded healthcare here in Canada and I still haven't become a serf."
New York's Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls herself a democratic socialist, but someone opines that she is not a socialist:
[S]he is a progressive Democrat. She is not advocating for nationalization of the steel industry or nationalization of medicine where hospitals are owned by the federal government and doctors are employees of the government. No, she is supporting goals like Medicare-for-all, a higher minimum wage, free access to higher education. I'd call that FDR or LBJ liberalism. She is basically a modern-day New Dealer. Nothing extreme about it.
Socialism, like everything else, has been subject to change. There was the command-economy socialism of the Soviet Union, with some saying this was not socialism at all but state capitalism. (Capitalism has also been subject to change.) There has been the socialism of Europe's Scandinavian countries. And how should we describe China's economy? Can we use mixed economic systems — capitalist and socialist — the two in tension and balance with each other?
Can we give others our preferred definition of socialism without being simplistic about it, thinking we are defining it for everyone, everywhere, and all time?
Someone presumably from a Nordic country prefers the label "Social democracies" rather that "Socialist," and he adds: "We've got free markets, and high redistribution."
Someone else replies: "It's the Scandanavian's work-ethic and brilliance as capitalists that prop up their chubby welfare state, not the other way around."
Copyright © 2018 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.