March 21 • 06:50 AM
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Let’s leave emotional buzzwords behind

To the Editor:

Aggression or Compas-sion, What's Your Pleasure?

Pundits today warn that President Obama is a Socialist, implying that being a Socialist is next to being Satan himself. Let's look at today's street view of the term:

•Socialism is Evil!

•Anyone tainted in any way with Socialism is Dirty!

•Even thinking about Socialism will cause you to go blind!

•It's better to embrace a serial killer than hug a Socialist!

Demonizing "Socialism" has been going on since Russia experimented with Communism—another dirty word—which challenged Capitalism. The Cold War wasn't a contest between Russia and the United States. It was a struggle fought over those two economic theories, Communism and Capitalism.

Long before the birth of Jesus, communism and socialism were common forms of community structure. They worked well and were popular because those economic systems served the interests of the common man.

Monasteries and convents of most religious denominations have always operated under a communistic form of organization: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

If a monk was good at baking bread, he contributed that talent to the monastery and in turn enjoyed the wine of a fellow monk who was a good vintner.

It's important to note the difference between the capital and lower case forms of the words—Communism vs. communism, and Socialism vs. socialism. That typographic treatment reflects the wide difference between the political and economic context of the systems. It's the political versions that are demonized for political ends, which in turn pollutes all meanings of the words.

Critics of Socialism warn of rogue governments oppressing its citizens. Yet nothing is ever mentioned about rogue corporations controlling the government which oppresses its citizens—the end result is the same. Mussolini's definition of Fascism was corporations taking over the government, which is happening in America today. Our concern should not be if Obama is a Socialist, but rather that he is not a Fascist.

Socialism, Communism and Capitalism—the average person in this country is terribly misinformed about what these terms really mean, because the media has distorted and demonized them so effectively. It's not even possible to carry on a sensible conversation about the concepts because they're not understood by most people. The terms have been turned into emotional buzzwords that generate more heat than light. Fanatics on either side need only press the correct hot buttons to get the reactions they seek without any related thought.

Simply put, Capitalism isn't humane, but it is efficient. Socialism isn't efficient, but it is humane. Aggression or Compassion— which is more important to you?

If only theory were considered, anyone paid by the hour would be far better served under benign Socialism than aggressive Capitalism. The motivation for Socialism is compassion and idealism. What drives Capitalism is the maximization of profit, which is a gentle way of describing greed. For that reason, benign Capitalism isn't even possible.

Whether Socialism or Capitalism is the better … is the second issue to be considered. The first issue that needs to be resolved is to free both terms of their contrived political baggage so a logical evaluation (for a search of the best of both worlds) is possible. Neither can be properly valued within today's misinformed and polarized understanding of Capitalism and Socialism.

William F. Brabenec, Attica
December 16, 2009

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