The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

4 April 2006

Reclaim the name

The Glittering Eye says it's time to bring back socialism — as a word:

I don't consider myself a member of "The Left" (nor "The Right", for that matter) but I don't have any particular allergy to the word socialism. It's a perfectly good word and it has a reasonably accepted meaning. It's useful for communicating meaning and expressing intent.

Whereas "progressive," by contrast, really doesn't mean much:

It's like saying virtuism or goodnessism. Who doesn't want progress? We just don't all agree on what it means.

Well, there's National Review, whose marching orders were set out by William F. Buckley Jr. in Volume 1, Number 1: "It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it."

As an old reactionary myself, I can understand Buckley's complaint about what passes for progress — but that's really another issue.

As I say, I'm not allergic to the word socialism. Nous sommes tous socialistes. Only the most doctrinaire completely reject redistribution. It's a pragmatic necessity. We tax the rich for the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks: it's where the money is. It's a matter of degree.

So I'm completely in favor of those who are calling themselves liberals or progressives or the netroots or whatever they're calling themselves these days calling themselves socialists. Using a word that actually has a definition and you can really sink your teeth into would have a number of beneficial effects:

  • they'd know what they stood for
  • the rest of us would know what they stood for
  • maybe a couple of decent political parties would emerge from the wreckage that would ensue

A conflagration devoutly to be wished. And besides, actual Marxists don't return your phone calls.

Posted at 7:03 AM to Political Science Fiction

Here are a couple of great recent and semi-recent articles on socialism.

I am increasingly of the opinion that it is just a bad idea all around. Get the minimum redistribution in place to help the truly needy and then hold the line.

Posted by: greg at 2:46 PM on 5 April 2006