And What About Socialism?

Now that we’ve dealt with communism, that leaves socialism. Need we fear it?

Let’s start with definitions. According to Wikipedia, “Socialism is a political, social, and economic philosophy encompassing a range of economic and social systems characterised by social ownership of the means of production and democratic control, such as workers’ self-management of enterprises.” Merriam-Webster defines it as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods,” that is, “a system of society or group living in which there is no private property.”

Again, as defined, socialism is congruent with democracy. But the only examples I could find of nations that call themselves socialist are tyrannies in which the ruler and his followers hold all the power and the people hold none. Like communism, the pretense of socialism is used by despots to disguise their exclusive dominion.

Probably the best-known example of a nation that calls itself socialist is Vietnam. Until 1976, its preferred name was the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (Vit Nam Dân ch Cng hòa), but then it changed its name to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Cng hòa Xã hi ch nghĩa Vit Nam). Its name notwithstanding, Vietnam is a prominent example of totalitarianism.

I come away from exercise in definitions with a renewed understanding that nations, like people everywhere, use words to create an impression which may be false. In everyday English, we call that lying.

Should I be surprised that autocracies lie?

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