First off, I want to say how happy I am that I was wrong about Barack Obama's electability. I didn't think it was possible for a black man to be elected president of the United States, but in my defense, that was before John McCain picked Britney Spears as a running mate.
I still don't understand what went on there; I suspect pressure from someone with something on him who thought sticking him with her was funny. It was a sadistic thing to do, like giving a guy who has wanted to ice skate his whole life a pair of skates and a flawless frozen pond, then chopping off his right foot. McCain was never liked by the Cheney/Rove axis. I suspect it was an evil practical joke.
But analyzing politics is beyond my purview here. It's not politics, but "socialism" I want to talk about.
A few weeks back, when the feces hit the rotary oscillator, and the Bush government bailed out Wall Street and the mortgage-loan industry, Democrats started accusing Republicans of socialism. And then when Joe the Plumber got on TV--before he got his book deal and hired his publicist--he started hollering that Obama's tax plan was "socialism," and Republicans started getting worked up about it, too.
Clearly, nobody in this country actually knows what socialism is. So I dusted off the Encyclopedia of Philosophy and shall here attempt to explicate it.
It all started with the French Revolution. During that time, most people who could think had their heads chopped off by starving, ignorant peasants, but a few guys, including one called Rousseau, began wondering how France had gotten itself into such a mess in the first place. Rousseau came up with the idea that "men are born free, but everywhere are in chains," meaning the upper classes spent a hell of a lot of energy keeping the lower classes down. The exact mechanism that chained the lower class wasn't clear, but it had to do with something called the "general will." According to Rousseau, the general will is mostly out for itself and denies both the needs and rights of its members. Rousseau believed it was in the general will's interests to keep people uneducated, poor and beaten down. They're more compliant and easier to manipulate that way.
So lousy educational systems, reality TV shows and on-demand Extreme Cagefighting are all tools of the general will, since they keep people complacent and stupid. The 24-hour news networks and their fear-mongering take care of the rest by keeping the populace in a constant state of fear and despair. This sums up the prime directive of the general will.
Rousseau wrote a bunch more on human rights and a lot of other topics, but clearly, both Democrats and Republicans actually like on-demand Extreme Cagefighting. Ergo, neither party can rightly be called "socialist."
Between the French Revolution and Karl Marx, socialism endured a lot of tweaking, proffering the notion that all social institutions be "just." Nobody has ever taken this notion seriously. Just ask any Jew or African American who tried to get into a country club before about 1985.
The truth is, "socialism" didn't really come into its own until Karl Marx got hold of it. Since he'd lived his whole life in a culture pockmarked by corrupt institutions, he figured that what individuals really wanted was to live in societies devoid of corrupt institutions. Unfortunately, he made two colossal mistakes: One, he never really defined what an uncorrupt institution was, and two, he didn't explain or understand what individuals really wanted, but only what they didn't want. Sure, nobody wants to be ripped off by their government, but while some strive for some things, some strive for entirely different things, particularly once you feed them. Karl Marx never understood the principle that once you give a guy a mule, he wants a horse. And that once you give him a horse, he wants a wagon, eventually a Ford, and finally a Mercedes-Benz. Karl Marx thought that once you redistribute the wealth, and everyone pretty much has their needs met, they'll shut up and go home. Big mistake. Most people don't want either justice or equality. They want better stuff than the guy next door.
In short, he never understood what greedy bastards human beings actually are.
So as far as I can tell, neither Democrats nor Republicans are "socialists," and I don't want to hear any more about it. For all his errors, Marx was a pretty decent sort, and I'm sure all this talk of socialism in the U.S. has had the poor stiff spinning in his grave this last couple of months. Clearly, we should let the poor chap rest in peace.