Commentary | According to the latest Gallup Poll, Americans are increasingly more positive about Socialism. When Americans were asked whether they had a positive or negative image of each of seven economically related terms, 39 percent responded positively to Socialism, up from 36 percent in 2010.
Among self-described liberals and progressives, Socialism enjoyed a 62 percent positive rating. Even among self-identified conservatives Socialism is becoming popular, with an amazing 25 percent viewing Socialism positively. Conservatives with a libertarian bent might be further disappointed to see that Republicans and Republican-leaners have higher regard for “big business” than they do for “capitalism.”
The trouble probably comes in how people are using the terminology. Socialism as originally envisioned by Karl Marx was primarily focused on an economic system and presumed an unlikely amount of altruism within society. The idea was that all the collective people would influence how resources were allotted. Communism, on the other hand, presumes many of the tenets of socialism and then centralizes power into a person or a party that makes all the decisions regarding property and society. With Socialism, each person is allotted resources according to the amount of work. In Communism, each person is allotted resources according to his or her supposed needs.
The odd part part about the Gallup polling results is that even though Socialism is getting more popular, “small business,” “free enterprise,” and “entrepreneurs” still remain the most increasingly popular economic terms. That Socialism is getting popular might have something to do with the way the word is used today in American politics.
Actions of President Obama and the Democrats are often described as “Socialist” by their detractors. For example, the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, could be called Socialist because representatives of the Democratic majority party decided to allot nationwide resources in the form of money toward providing healthcare for as many people as possible based up their economic input. If this decision were Communist in nature healthcare would have been handed out regardless. So if you support Obama and the Democrats you might start thinking that there is something positive about this whole Socialism thing even if at the same time you are very positive about small business, free enterprise, and entrepreneurs.
Forbes is claiming that Obama and the Democrats are following Karl Marx’s 10-point platform for how to socialize a country’s economy in stages. Examples include “increase state control over means of production,” which is compared to Obama’s cap and trade ideas along with EPA regulation, which gives state control over the energy industry.
Many Americans are worried about this growing trend toward Socialism. After all, even when you exclude death by war, the estimated number of citizens killed or starved to death by their own Socialist or Communist governments since 1918 is suspected to be in the hundreds of millions. While most people know the Russian USSR was Communist many people forget the full name for the nickname Nazis was the National Socialist Party. Fortunately, Obama is not a true believer of Karl Marx who felt that violence was a necessary component for building a Socialist society: “The last capitalist we hang shall be the one who sold us the rope.”
Upton Sinclair, who ran for Congress as a Socialist, once claimed that the “American people will take Socialism, but they won’t take the label.” Along the same lines Ronald Reagan famously once said that “the American people would never knowingly vote for socialism; but under the guise of liberalism, they would adopt every fragment of the socialist platform until one day America would be Socialist without knowing how it came about.” He attributed this quote to Socialist leader Norman Thomas, which is probably false, but the idea still stands. If anything, it appears that Americans understanding of what Socialism means is morphing.