Separating Wheat From Chaff
To be useful, any discussion of socialism and communism must amount to more than parroting right- or left-wing talking points. As intellectual activity, such parroting ranks just a bit higher than digesting ones breakfast while mistaking that process for thought.
A simple exercise in logic: All dogs are four-footed animals, but not all four-footed animals are dogs.
Equally true: All communists are socialists, but not all socialists are communists.
What’s the difference? And does the difference make any difference?
A common misunderstanding—There are no real varieties of socialism. Any apparent differences are mere window dressing. In the end, they’ll all resolve into Marxism-Leninism—A Russian-style communist revolution, with concomitant destruction of capitalism, private property, markets, democracy and religion.
At the opposite end of the nonsense spectrum we find socialism touted as a panacea for all of life’s ills.
So the truth is..?
In 1919 communists split with all other socialists over the question of democracy. Communists reject democracy in favor of destroying capitalism “by all available means”, pointedly including military force, to be accompanied by imposition of a “dictatorship of the proletariat.”
That other socialists have strongly supported democracy is not commonly understood. Critics of socialism don’t seem too eager to remind us of this—quite the contrary.
“(Democracy)…is both a means and an end. It is the weapon in the struggle for socialism and the form in which socialism will be realized.” ¹ (my italics.) Socialist and democratic socialist parties gave and give strong support to democratic forms of government, particularly in Europe following WWII.
Communism is incompatible with democracy.
Socialism is not.
Incidentally, these names, “socialist”, “democratic socialist”, “social democrat”, etc., are not mere sloppy word salad. They are labels for varieties of socialism indiscriminately lumped together in what passes for intelligent political discussion.
Please consider that the next time a pollster reports high levels of support for “socialism”.
For the most part, I think it fair to say that neither the pollsters nor those they poll know what they’re talking about.
More on socialism shortly.
¹ Eduard Bernstein (01/06/1850 – 12/18/1932) one of the fathers of democratic socialism.