Yesterday’s socialism included failed systems of communist dictatorship. Today’s socialism includes some of the world’s richest per capita countries with a strong middle class. How did this change? What is the difference? Could this be America’s path back to a strong middle class?
When I was young there was a thing called McCarthyism. It was best known for fighting Communism within our own shores, but was actually the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. The big fear of the day was the so-called red scare and the word socialism was equated with communism, Russia, and China. Communism was in reality state capitalism whereby the 10% in a country who were official members of the Communist party made capital off of the 90% who were not. For instance, in East Germany, the famous millionaire homes along the canals, with luxury boats at dock and luxury cars in the driveway were the communist party homes. Most people in East Germany during the communist years were very poor and oppressed. In a so-called equal society, party bosses made about 25 times more than average income. Compare that with our American CEO who may make 300 times average or more.
Today, many are shocked that a self-avowed socialist, Bernie Sanders is running for President. The right wing media highlights the word socialist, but I notice they are still using the McCarthy era definition and have completely ignored the wealth and equality of Scandinavia, Britain, France and other so-called democratic socialist countries. What is this Scandinavian-style socialism? How is it so much different to that of Russian-style communism? How has it allowed so much higher per-capita national wealth than America?
In America we wait around for the billionaire class to grow a conscience. In some few cases that has worked, but in other cases it has been a dismal failure. Wealthy billionaires pay their employees substandard wages and wealthy corporations send their money offshore to avoid paying taxes. Billions of dollars flee our shores which could be used to pay higher wages, universal health care, better roads, less expensive schools or even free universities, and dozens of other benefits to our country. Instead, the only benefits go to a greedy few. We cannot legislate conscience. We cannot legislate generosity or love for neighbor. How then can we control this grossly excessive abuse of our country?
Scandinavian countries and others which call themselves democratic socialist are leap years ahead of America in solving these and other abuses. It is not communism. It is not theft. It is simply requiring the super wealthy to pay back what they have plundered from the rest of us. Their propaganda machine has completely brainwashed a very large segment of our population, but if we take a look at the facts from a Christian perspective, love your neighbor is a mandate. It is not a mandate that can be legislated, but legislation can place a curb on the abuse of greed that is simply out of control in America today.