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Why Do Americans Fear Socialism?

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A Facebook friend wrote me a letter saying she agreed with me that Americans are unduly afraid of socialism and speak about it as though it were communism. I wrote her back.   

Dear Tanya, I don’t want to “become a socialist” anymore than I want to “become a dentist.” I am not a person who joins political parties. Labels restrict people. 

Why can’t Americans think outside their own system? Yes, they are isolated and yes, they are brainwashed—but mostly they are under-educated. The public schools in the United States don’t work. There is no single education level which each and every American kid goes to school to attain. Each state and, in some cases, each county and even each township has its own education system with its own rules and standards and books and levels of excellence. (Or should I say mediocrity?) If you consider the number of functionaries and bureaucrats employed by these hundreds of thousands of inefficient school boards and departments and offices and playgrounds—the secretarial staff payroll alone would weigh down and suck the life out of any large company trying to improve product or make a profit. Imagine what it does to schools.

Socialism is not communism. No way. It’s a democratic method of improving the lifestyles of the people in a country so they can live productive lives. It’s a way of ensuring they can sleep at night if they have a handicapped child or an aging parent who needs expensive care, if they need glasses or a mammogram or a test for prostate cancer. An MRI? A sonogram? An education. Daycare. Trains that run on time. Public television which instructs people, and so forth. 

America not only needs more socialism, it needs an education about what socialism is and what it can do for it. But first, education in America needs a bath to wash away football and volleyball and “twirling” and the rest of the frivolous extra curricular activities from schools. Concentrate on learning. Be certain teachers have advanced degrees in their subjects before giving them tenure. And for Heaven’s sake, get one U.S standard of excellence toward which each and every child can strive so that by age eighteen a kid has a chance to make it through one of the top-rated, FREE universities. 

Why don’t Americans want a better life? Because Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly and the Bushites and the corporate leaders have convinced them otherwise. They have these poor, under-educated, socially deprived people believing that capitalism will take care of their deaf child, their cancer, their arthritis, or their baby being born with a deformity. Capitalism, we have noticed of late, can’t even take care of itself! But somehow most American people can’t think around corners. They can only repeat slogans and sling hateful epithets at what they fear. They don’t have the tools to think through or evaluate or even to investigate their fears. 

The trouble is, Tanya, that you and I talking to each other are preaching to the converted. I think I had better post this note publicly. Otherwise, the slogan-drunk Americans in the crowd will not be hearing what they so desperately need to hear.

Socialism for the people is good for America. Obama is not a socialist. Nor am I. But we would both like to enhance the lifestyles of our fellow Americans by taking the best from the socialisms we see working well in successful Social Democracies and injecting some of it into our current system which has quite simply “flunked out.” 


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