I especially love it when people say, “But it’s democratic socialism!”, as if the adjective made it all ok.

“Oh, it’s not colonialism I support. It’s democratic colonialism. Well, it’s not slavery I’m into. It’s democratic slavery. It’s not like I favor rape. Only democratic rape.”

I don’t dispute anybody’s right to believe in whatever they want, no matter how strange. It’s weird, though, that people expect this argument to be successful with me, somebody who is normally the only person in the room during these discussions who experienced socialism. And it’s not my ancestors, not someone from a hundred years ago, not someone I read about. People seem sincerely to expect a truly horrible experience I personally had to lose its power because they tacked on an adjective.

Every time I hear this, it makes me think of that horrible “legitimate rape” fellow from a few years back. He honestly saw a difference between “rape rape” and “not really rape rape” and was stunned that people didn’t agree.

14 thoughts on “Adjective”

  1. How do you feel about public schools? I know people who are opposed to public education in any form, saying that it is nothing but socialism (which it is, I think). I attended a public school. I got a good education. But I have heard the argument that

    1) It is impossible to get anything but government propaganda from public education, and

    2) Even if I did succeed in getting a good education, it is irrelevant from the standpoint of the general principle that it is impossible to get a good education that way, since no system is perfect, and maybe a tiny percentage of people might possibly get an education that way because of a failure of the system.

    I think this is crazy, and I do not see any valid argument against socialistic education.


    1. Public education is the product of the nation-state. It was conceived of long before socialism and is not in any way connected to it.

      The differences between a public high school in a capitalist country and a socialist country are, to name a few, that a socialist school has no doors on toilet cabins, no personal cubbies or lockers, forced public gynecological exams for girls, etc. This all exists because socialism is averse to the idea of private space or individualism.

      I personally experienced all this and I still have nightmares.


      1. No, I do not think that. I was referring to what is called socialism in Europe or as referred to by Bernie Sanders.

        I believe North Korea may be the most despicable government since Stalin’s Russia. But because it is hidden in secrecy, I don’t know whether it is truly communist, socialist, or simply murderous totalitarianism. Venezuela is a unique situation of a country corrupted by its rare wealth of oil and mismanagement. I don’t know whether we can learn anything about socialism from Venezuela one way or the other. Like I say, unique circumstances.

        Now Cuba. Like most countries, Cuba has a long history leading to where it is today. The regime prior to the Castro revolution was hardly ideal. It’s impossible to know in retrospect whether Cuba would have been better off with a continuation of that regime than it has been under Castro. Like most places on earth, Cuba is a mix of good and bad based on its location, resources, neighbors, and history. Under the Castro government, the people have not starved like people in North Korea. The education system seems relatively good, producing more medical doctors than other countries. A Limited amount of private enterprise now exists under a primarily socialist economy. It’s not a total horror story that your description of socialism would imply. Certainly the people have limited freedom. It would appear that the refusal of Cuba’s nearest and overwhelmingly powerful neighbor to have trade with the Cuban economy is the cause of at least some of Cuba’s problems. Cuba is hardly an indictment of socialism under the circumstances and history.


        1. Have you been to Cuba? I have, many times. There was real hunger until Castro introduced capitalist elements into the system. The schools made me cry. I met second-graders who had never seen a pen. Hospitals are ridiculously bad. Diabetics have to prostitute themselves to get insulin. Asthmatics sell their kids to pedophiles just to get an inhaler. The University of Havana is pathetic. The students care about nothing but selling sexual services to tourists.

          The USSR was paradise in comparison to Cuba. At least, people didn’t sell their kids into sexual slavery in order to survive. It’s not an accident that Cuba is the favorite destination for the world’s pedophiles. I will never forget the first time when a woman approached me in Havana with pictures of very small children she was selling for sex.


          1. Your report on Cuba is interesting and informative. I’ve never been to Cuba, although I’ve known many Cubans here in the United States and never heard it described quite as bad as you say.

            Here’s a suggestion: if one of your readers is a true expert on that region, it would be fascinating to see a detailed and knowledgeable comparison of Cuba with Puerto Rico. As you know, PR Has been a territory of the USA since long before Castro took over Cuba. Citizens of both countries speak Spanish and neither Cubans nor Puerto Ricans have A democratic choice regarding their national leaders.

            Compare Cuba and Puerto Rico regarding education, healthcare, agriculture, Electric power supply, economy, and living conditions. Only a true expert, please. To go even further, an expert might compare and contrast Cuba and PR with the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica. Only Cuba is communist or socialist, so far as I know, but all those places share a history rooted in colonial days, and are in the sphere of influence of United States in modern times. I doubt that any of them are an economic paradise. Peace.


            1. “neither Cubans nor Puerto Ricans have A democratic choice regarding their national leaders.”

              Not true! For the past half-century (since 1967) Puerto Ricans have held periodic referendums where they voted on whether to remain a commonwealth, become a U.S. state, or have total independence.

              They’ve always chosen to remain a commonwealth, no surprise there. If they chose independence, Puerto Rico would quickly deteriorate into an impoverished third-world country. If they chose statehood, they’d have to pay their full share of U.S. federal taxes like the rest of us do. As a commonwealth, they’re already U.S. citizens lacking only the right to vote in U.S. presidential elections.

              To compare the freedoms of American citizens in Puerto Rico to the lives of Cuban citizens under Castro’s communism is ABSURD!

              And, no, I’m no a “true expert” — I’m also not blind.


              1. Thank you Dreidel. You are of course correct about the political status of Puerto Rico. Although economically, I have my doubts about whether they are much better off than a Third World country.

                I would add one note about poverty in Cuba and shortage of food and consumer goods. the U.S. has tried for more than a half-century to strangle the Cuban economy. Much of the shortages and poverty there can be attributed to the US embargo on trade. It’s purposely inflicted by us! If Cuba had the benefit of a friendly neighbor for trade, conditions might be quite different.


              2. “I would add one note about poverty in Cuba and shortage of food and consumer goods. the U.S. has tried for more than a half-century to strangle the Cuban economy. .. If Cuba had the benefit of a friendly neighbor for trade, conditions might be quite different.”

                Cuba was amply subsidized by the USSR for years, and the wealth was VERY unequally distributed in a way that benefited those favored by the Castro regime, and the subsidizes did NOTHING to loosen the absolute hold of communist tyranny.

                If the United States had simply lifted the US embargo (As Obama came close to doing), this would have enabled the Castro brothers to continue their oppressive regime without making any concessions to freedom or capitalism. The U.S. embargo forced Castro to allow capitalist elements into his economic system, and as Clarissa has already pointed out several posts above:

                “There was real hunger until Castro introduced capitalist elements into the system” which at least subsequently reduced the lack of food.

                Tyrannical governments begin to reform and ultimately collapse only when they’re forced to, not when they’re coddled by sympathetic or naive external powers.


              3. There is absolutely no comparison whatsoever between Puerto Rico and Cuba. Puerto Rico is not known as a brothel of the world and you can talk to a Puerto Rican without having them offer you sexual services “for just 5 dollars”. Puerto Ricans are not ignorant about the world because they don’t live in censorship. They are not angry, mean, cynical, or cruel. They haven’t had all humanity sucked out of them by an inhuman system.


  2. When I was living in Poland in the 1970’s, several Polish people told me that Sweden was far more socialist than Poland was. Only Party members seemed to disagree with this.

    I have been thinking about this, and I still have no idea why you do not consider public education to be socialism. It seems to me to be an excellent and successful example of socialism. So was the TVA (even though Tennesseans denied it) when I was growing up there.


    1. The idea of comprehensive, free primary and later secondary education was invented by the enlightened thinkers of the 18th century. The goal was to promote the ideology of the nation-state and stamp out non-hegemonic languages and cultures. A secondary goal was to create a compliant and minimally literate workforce for the nascent capitalism. This system of education was crucial for the existence of capitalism in the primary stages of capitalist accumulation.

      I know this because it’s my job to know this. My very first research interest was enlightened philosophy. This is how I discovered that this idea was born to serve the development of capitalism. For this reason, all successful capitalist societies have free comprehensive secondary education.


    2. “Sweden was far more socialist than Poland was”
      One of the things that everybody forgets is that the ideal of the Solidarity movement wasn’t the UK or US but Scandinavia (esp Sweden at the time). After the communists blinked there was a putsch inside the movement and a bunch of Thatcherites took over.
      The case can be made that ultiimately that’s what was needed given the reality that the country was a financial basket case but it definitely wasn’t what most people wanted and most of the deep socio-political divisions in modern Poland can be traced back to divisions in the Soldarity movement….


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