What is socialism?

Ed Vavra


“Socialism” is used to scare people from a better life. Check the “World Happiness Report,” on Wikipedia. It rates 156 countries in seven categories. For happiness, the first seven countries are more or less socialist: Finland, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Netherlands, and Canada. The United States is 18th.

Trump has stated that Socialism will take away our freedom. One of the report’s categories is “Freedom to make life choices.” Again, most socialist countries outrank us–we come in the high forties. Trump is either ignorant or lying.

Rutger Bregman’s 250-page Utopia for Realists argues that we are beyond capitalism vs. socialism. Bregman predicts a “15-hour workweek,” and he makes interesting arguments for “free stuff,” which is a pejorative among Republicans.

Last but not least, you may want to read Edward Bellamy’s 162-page, Christian Socialist Utopian novel, Looking Backward. It is free on the Internet Archive. First published in 1888, much of it is outdated, but the basic ideas are important today. In his utopia, every man and woman gets free education up to age 21. Everyone capable of working has to work, but everyone, yes, everyone, gets the same annual amount of money. They can retire at age 45, but there is an option to retire at 33, for half the annual money. His justification for this is debatable, but it would be an interesting debate. The book covers many other aspects of national life including production, distribution, government, religion, politics, and freedom to start your own business. It may be outdated, but it suggests a system like Amazon, even though there was no internet in his time.

I’ll be happy to give a presentation on Bellamy, but even better would be a series of discussions on the topics he describes.


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