green_man_2010 (green_man_2010) wrote in talk_politics,

Redefining 'socialism'- is it legitimate? Needed?

When I said recently that England was a 'socialist' country, it provoked an argument.

I think that perhaps there is a need to redefine Socialism - or at least what I mean by it.

you may point me to the OED and say that 'socialism means that 'the people/state take over the means of production', but hold on there - in the Uk , we no longer produce *things* as much as we used to, we simply open shops that sell services to people. So, smart socialists are saying that we need to 'own the means of producing wealth' - and that means owning shops , etc.

But then, we don't see that the state owns any, and that those it does run does not produce the profits that the private sector makes anyway. so, is Socialism really just a busted flush?

I would argue not. take 'civilisation' for example. Ok, the OED will probably tell you that 'civilisation' means living in a fixed settlement', or some such. however, it has taken on more than meaning just that. consider - was Auchwitz a fixed settlement? Yes. So, can we really say that the Final Solution was what we would call ' civilised behaviour'? I think not.

Civilisation has come to mean more than just living in the same spot all year round for a few decades. It has come to mean having respect for laws and ethics - abiding by the Geneva Convention, for instance. Being nice to ppl you don't agree with on the internet, even is also considered 'civilised'.

So, maybe there is something to be said for extending the same rule to 'Socialism'.
I think we can reasonably argue that when the State/society takes certain duties upon itself, we can call that 'socialism', if the end is to benifit the common citizen and not the ruling elite.

So, yeah - schools, hospitals and other public services run by the State, maybe this is what we should aim for - or maybe not. whether you agree or not with the idea, this is what I mean when Ii say 'I believe in socialism'. I believe that we *should* pay taxes to have everyone getting healthcare, for every kid to get a primary education and that kids who would benefit from going on to university or college should get stae funding for doing so. I believe in having state run industries in the service sector, and state regulation of the private sector to prevent oil leaks and other nasty things happening to the environment and to workers. in short, I don't believe that The Free Market is the answer to all our ills.

Lets be honest, is anyone going to complain about the SAS or the US Marine Corps being inefficient or a waste of money? I don't think so. The local fire department? Again, these people seem to attract the sort of people who are not motivated so much by the money as the concept of public service. even teachers and nursing staff seem to have a reputation for being devoted to 'a calling' rather than being in it for big bucks - so why can we not extend the ethos simply through good leadership and people management?

After all, if The Free Market is the answer to all our ills, why have we not privatised the Armed Forces, the police and all the other arms of the State apart from the legislature?

Over to you, people.
Tags: socialism
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