SOCIALISM: FACTS AND FALLACIES

There may be a test at the end if this long series. Your grade will depend on your grasp of the content, not merely the title.

OK. Just kidding. It’s all pass/fail. The main thing is to learn something. And the very first thing to learn is that you probably now nothing, or at least very little about “Socialism: the big scary bugaboo”.

First of all, Socialism is not Communism. Communism on the other hand is socialism, but kind of a perverted, runaway socialism. It is-and this may surprise many-actually a social philosophy, proposed by philosophers, not politicians. The first Socialist was probably God. Think of the Garden of Eden. So many people think that Socialism is the search for or yearning for Utopia, and that all “socialists” are “Utopian” dreamers. But, think now to the Bible. The creation story best known from Genesis, in the Jewish/Christian Old Testament. That was not, by the way, any sort of Utopia. In fact the very first Utopia did not exist before Sir Thomas More’s creation of it in 1516, during the resign of Henry VIII. You know, a bunch of wives, notably Anne Boleyn. Any resemblance to any other Utopia came before Sir Thomas and his creation of the term in the 16th Century. Before him came Thomas Aquinas, St Augustine of Hippo, Aristotle Socrates and most notably, Plato. He wrote, among many other things, “the Republic and created the myth of Atlantis.

But all of them were, presumably, preceded in the “creation” of a utopia by God. You know what we mean. Paradise. The Garden of Eden. Then of course, like all Utopian style dreams, Humans came along and screwed things up and naturally, and predictably, lost that dream of the Idyllic life.

That is, of course, what happens to all Utopian reams. All Utopian experiments. People take hold of an idea, think they know it all and screw it up. All Utopian writings, from the Garden of Eden an down to Sir Thomas More, to Brave New World to Animal Farm or 1984 describe not drams of sylvan Fields and everyone happy go lucky, getting along with everyone else and living a life of ease and lack of want. Every single one of those “dreams” ends as a nightmare of dysfunctional society and breakdown of civilizations.

Why? Because they are based on ideals, not reality. Philosophers tend to be dreamers, even the best of them, In terms of modern ideas of socialism, Immanuel Kant is sort of the Grandaddy, at least in relatively modern terms. He lived from 1724 to 1804. He influenced a lot of other social reformer types including Hegel and Marx. The one person we have mentioned who took the idea seriously was Karl Marx. But lets take some time to consider some of the fallacies. Basing these on some of the aforementioned people. We will leave God out of it, for now at least.

So, which came first? The Communism or the Socialism? To answer that we have to plunge into rekigious texts, or ideals at any rate. Because Communism came first. Socialism was invented til later.

He was barn sometime between 428-423 BCE, and died about 80 years later. He was a citizen Athens and many of his writings, especially concerning society and civilization concerning this topic are based in/around Atens, For instance he wrote Republic, written around 370 BCE, which is set in a mythical kingdom ruled by Kallipolis, a type of utopian city-state, along the basic lines of Greek city-states. I is centered around an idea of Justice. That is important. It may be in the (non) test. And, to implicate matters more, he uses Socrates as sort of the protagonist. It is written as a dialogue wherein two or more people are discussing topics. Republic is written in many volumes. Overall it boils down to being Justice is the definition of a “well ordered soul”.

The crux of the matter he says that “a tyrants nature will leave him with “horrid pains and pangs”‘. On the other hand “only the Philosopher is able to judge which sort of ruler is best because only he can see the Form of the Good.” He points out that the human tendency is to be corrupted power and leads town the road to timocracy, oligarchy, democracy and tyranny..

What the heck is timocracy? That is a state where only property owners may participate in government. Hmm. Sounds familiar. In fact in the constitution of the United States, only landowners, male landowners, could vote. In fact they had to broaden the definition to include business owners, even if they did not own land. If they owned a business or land, they could vote. But only men, That was pretty much the status of things in Athens by the way. Timocracy, he felt, could only lead to oligarchy, where the wealthy rule. We see that in Russia. Vladimir Putin and his favorites, sycophants and cronies rule. He also is thought by many to be the richest man in the world. Only his money is hidden so well that no one knows for sure. And he notes that in a timocracy ” in choosing it’s leaders incline toward the most simple minded type, who are most inclined toward war. Solon introduced the idea of a graded oligarchy into the Athenian constitution on the very early 6th century. Oligarchy comes from the Greek word olives, meaning the few. As we have seen the state we know as Russia and was the USSR fits this category. It is a minority rules type of tyrannical government leading to the best for the very rich and screw everyone else. Now democracy we see as a “majority rules, such as the United States. Democracies have various forms and have evolved over many, many centuries, and we will discuss the United States as well, And finally we have tyranny.

Tyranny has a lot of different forms and, over the next few articles we will discuss those as well. Bu, getting back to Socialism, tyranny has used both socialism, democracy and oligarchy to rule. They just use different names. Keep in mind that Socialism is not really a political type of state. It is a system of Justice, and economics which bleeds over into some, but not all, governments.

Nazism, some. forms of Fascism masquerade as socialism. There are dome monarchies that practice what might be thought of as socialism. But stop, right now, in thinking that socialism is a form of government. It is a philosophy of HOW to govern.

So much for today. see you next week and please think about all this. Other than using your brain and your IQ there is no homework. Just think. Like a philosopher.

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