Sunday, May 2, 2010

Socialism, Democracy and Patriotism...

A little background for those who will read my blog. I live in Canada, I have lived here almost 5 years now, however, I am American. I love Canada and am falling back in love with the United States. Most of my political commentary is about American polotics.
This post was fueled by a Facebook friends comment about not being happy with the new president and the fact/assumption that he is leading the United States towards a Socialist society. (That was an elequent paraphrase of the comment he posted.)
Disclaimer: I am not accusing anyone of anything or implying anyone is anything based on the commentary in the following paragraphs - these are my views and feelings.
I shall start with these quotes.
“Socialism refers to any one of various economic theories of […] organization advocating state or cooperative ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal opportunities/means for all individuals with a more egalitarian method of compensation [a belief in human equality, especially with respect to social, political, and economic rights and privileges] based on the full product of the labourer [in which each worker is rewarded in accordance with the amount of labour that he contributes to society]. “Socialists mainly share the belief that capitalism unfairly concentrates power and wealth among a small segment of society that controls capital”
“In political theory, Democracy describes a small number of related forms of government and also a political philosophy. Even though there is no universally accepted definition of 'democracy', there are two principles that any definition of democracy includes. The first […] is that all members of the society have equal access to power and the second that all members enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties. There are several varieties of democracy, some of which provide better representation and more freedoms for their citizens than others.However, if any democracy is not carefully legislated to avoid an uneven distribution of political power with balances, such as the separation of powers, then a branch of the system of rule could accumulate power and become harmful to the democracy itself.
Democratic: 4 : favouring social equality : not snobbish (Merriam Webster Dictionary)
The United States government funds libraries, healthcare and childcare for the poor, education, etc, etc. The only thing that differs who we already were, from the socialism people claim we are headed towards, is that our government does not pay 100% for ALL of these services (certainly some) but strives to create equal opportunity by providing basic healthcare, education, and services. However, we still have a VERY unequal society in which many feel they don’t have equality, we have a larger number of people living in poverty, 37.3 million people in poverty in 20071 , and among industrialized countries contain the highest poverty rate.2 This reflects a high degree of inequality.
The cornerstone elements of democracy include basic human rights, freedom of opinion, separation of powers, religious freedom and liberty, and good governance, defined as the “focus on public interest and absence of corruption”, a government that does not manipulate people to achieve personal goals based on personal interests.
When there is an administration that does not allow a freedom of opinion, where individuals were labelled anti-patriotic and put on a watch list for saying anything negative about an administration, where individuals are suspect because of their religious views, were individuals feel powerless to a government who favours personal interests and big business, individuals are having their basic right impeded on. Ask these people if they feel they were having their basic political rights stripped from them and you will be met with a resounding “yes”. Not a very democratic environment. We already have a government that is a juxtaposition of socialism and democracy, they have intertwining philosophies. I think the mistake people make is that they view non-democratic societies as those that have no say in their government and who think they have no say in things that go on. Step back from your political affiliations and LOOK – really LOOK at who has and has had the power, it is already a division of power based on many factors that are largely out of the control of the common man.
On a personal note, I don’t remember learning about socialism in school so my only research has been that of an adult. As an adult, I can look at it with eyes of a person that is not being told how something was/is by one school and one teacher who chooses the text we read (The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict what Students Learn By Diane Ravitch and that’s just the tip of the iceberg on that – don’t get me started).
I am not advocating a pure socialist society (such as Sweden) but as a society that already has socialist aspects one should step back and be thankful. Be thankful we have a government that is developed, that provides for those lower and lower-middle class peoples who can not afford basic rights that are modern human rights [not to mention NECESSETIES}, that provides some basic equal opportunities, like educations and libraries. It is what separates us from a few of the countries we scarcely understand and whome we fight wars with. It is what makes us the country we are, the country that in the past, and now in the future, people strive to be a part of. It is what makes us America.
So, when the government makes changes to some of our basic policies we must believe that they are doing it for the better of the country and to trust them with our country and our well being is as democratic and as patriotic as one can be.
I welcome all comments especially from those who can provide a valid rebuttal to this, but please have some information to back it up – nothing is worse that someone with empty comments.
2Bradley, D., Huber, E., Moller, S., Nielson, F. & Stephens, J. D. (2003). Determinants of relative poverty in advanced capitalist democracies. American Sociological Review, 68(3), 22-51.

No comments:

Post a Comment