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The U.S. definition of "Socialism" etc

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Old 09-02-2020, 06:50 AM   #1
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The U.S. definition of "Socialism" etc

Disclaimer: Im not opening this to find out or define who is right or wrong, but to see why the (as perceived by me) definition of left / right, socialism, marxism etc in the U.S. is so vastly different then, for example in Germany and Austria.

So, what do I mean by that?

Last time Ive been to the the U.S. Ive been asked if Id say that Obama, from a European perspective, would be a Marxist.

I see Biden being referred to as "Trojan Horse for Socialism" and Sanders being called a Socialist, Marxist or Communist.

Then I think about which party they would be in in Germany and have to say - no, from my / a German perspective, they would be none of those things.

As you might know, we have a lot more political parties in Germany. Currently in the Bundestag (like your House of Representatives) there are people from 6 parties.
Those are: (from left to right) Die Linke (the left, the closest thing to socialists we have), die Grnen (the green party), SPD (social-democratic party) - here would be the middle ground - - FDP (free democrats) - CDU/CSU (christian-democratic / christian-social-union), AfD (Alternative for Germany, basically open racists)

When I now take the three persons I mentioned... Obama and Biden would both probably be in the CDU/CSU or FDP. Conservatives and Neoliberals. Sanders would be the only one being in the slightly leftish SPD.

NONE of those parties would ever go against free healthcare for example, since it is seen as a basic right here.

So, after all that, my question is - is my perception wrong, are the views I perceive those of a vocal minority? And if it is right... why are our views so vastly different?
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Old 09-02-2020, 12:20 PM   #2
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Re: The U.S. definition of "Socialism" etc

I think it would be hard for many americans (me included) to have any real intelligent discussion as to the comparison of the definition of "socialism in europe" vs americans definition of socialism. I think we americans really do live in a bubble and dont really think about other countries. i think just the geographical position of the US being guarded and having the atlantic and pacific oceans as huge buffers to europe is part of the reason for our bubble mentality. We arent forced to get along with other countries.

I do think America would be vastly different if we were bordering europe. We border Canada, seemingly a great country with a good head on their shoulders, and Mexico.

I think Mexico is a good segway into the fears some Americans have about their vision of "socialism". Part of our country doesnt want people migrating from el salvador or mexico and then getting "free stuff".

My guess as to how most Americans define "socialism" is "working people paying for lazy poor people". Things like:

- universal healthcare. I personally am weary of universal healthcare bc I saw what medicaid is like for my kid for the first few years of her life. The doctors she could see were limited, often overbooked and hard to get appointments, quality of the facilities and staff were shocking to me. Now my kid is on my very expensive health care plan but she goes to a dentist with tv on the ceiling, has the best pediatrician around with a swank office and getting an appointment is easy.

I think many americans think "universal healthcare" = we all go to medicaid and get crappy service. Doctors in america do not want medicaid bc they get paid pennies on the dollar vs private plans. So if all doctors now have to all get paid gov't set prices and take on any patient who calls ... what incentive is there for the doctors to have a nice office with updated equipment and highly qualified staff?

I work hard, went to post graduate school etc .. why should my kid have the same access to doctors as a family who doesnt work, smokes cigarettes and leaves trash everywhere they go?

I and many americans would need someone to clearly explain to us that the quality of care we currently receive will not go down.

If you say, well you can pay an additional amount to see your preferred doctors .. many americans would say why do i have to pay into a system that i wont even use just to have the privilege of paying even more to see my preferred doctors? Would the quality doctors eventually disappear anyway?


I posted this before but this was where my daughters dental office was when she was on medicaid and we lived in Baltimore City.


1. I dont think your perception is wrong. What many americans view as socialism is actually moderate/centrist for Europe.

2. the american view of socialism (as I tried to describe above) is probably the majority, not the minority.

3. Why are views so vastly different? One, I think america living in its bubble is a major reason. Two, the older generation got hammered during the cold war that socialism = communism = anti america.

Three .. we are a very young country, all things considered, and we had a rock star rise to power based on our perceived notion of american exceptionalism. That if youre strong and committed, you will thrive on your own laurels. That each man is his own island, his home his castle and that if a person sinks or swims is up to them. However, that ignores the fact the some of us were born with life jackets and some were born with nothing. Some were born with diver weights tied to their ankles.
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Old 09-03-2020, 12:19 PM   #3
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Re: The U.S. definition of "Socialism" etc

I would say Europeans have it right but that is just me. In America it has been ingrained that socialism is counter to American ideals and therefore negative and detrimental. The cases that are generally pointed are extremes. To me socialism is the redistribution of wealth. Preferably in an equitable way, in order to ensure everyone's basic needs are met. We already have some semblance of what I consider socialism say when we take money from all US taxpayers and redistribute it to keep banks afloat in 2007 for example. We also use it for entitlements which also has a negative connotation in the United States. I also do not think socialism does a way with the constructs of capitalism they can work hand in hand to drive the economy and provide basic necessities. We have several government institutions that are socialist by nature in my view, U.S. military, fire, police, education.

As an aside to what Sunnyside was saying with medicine. I do believe basic healthcare should be covered and a right. It drives me nuts that people have to decide do I have cancer treatment and take out a second mortgage or do I hope for the best, but that is a road we need to work on in the US to make it work properly. I know being a military brat military hospitals were more about efficiency and less about patient rights and comfort. Anecdotally I remember being lined up with ten kids in the same room for vaccinations for school and the doctor just going down the line. Obviously crying building to a crescendo with each new kid receiving a shot. My dad and I were at the commissary grocery shopping when a man came over to say high. He was on the operating table next to my dad when they were both getting vasectomies. Just like the vaccine shots. The surgeon had five operating tables and five patients and was working down the line. These are stories from the early 80s so obviously things can change but I find them amusing stories nonetheless.
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Old 09-03-2020, 12:48 PM   #4
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Re: The U.S. definition of "Socialism" etc

Socialism is a bad word in the US (even though elements of it are already well incorporated) and generally just a lazy scare tactic from the right.
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Old 09-03-2020, 01:12 PM   #5
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Re: The U.S. definition of "Socialism" etc

Its not worth my time to discuss...but when so called democratic socialist like Bernie and AOC policies are largely Marxists (just start with the Green New Deal she released and then removed...Bernies years of visiting and praising communist regimes) and we dont mention it...then the premise is dishonest from the start. Along those lines, thinking socialism is only a economic system and that leaders here only want it that way...again laughable dishonesty.

Even socialist leaders/ theorists of years past have openly admitted as much. They have explicitly explained that the end game...and the process to get it there is authoritative.

How Europe defines it is not the same as leaders here want to define it.
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