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News Is communism still a big taboo in america? if so why?

  1. Aug 30, 2012 #1
    Hi, Just wondering if Communism is still a big taboo in America, and if so, why?
    It's just a question that came to mind, thought I'd ask.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 30, 2012 #2
    What do you mean by taboo. are you asking if there is a political Communist Party of America? And do they ever currently stand a slim chance in hell in becoming mainstream?
     
  4. Aug 30, 2012 #3

    lisab

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    Communism isn't taboo. It's simply been shown to not work.
     
  5. Aug 30, 2012 #4

    russ_watters

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    I was thinking of starting a similar thread, based on discussion in another thread. I think you have the focus wrong though, but please feel free to elaborate if I'm off base and hijacking....

    Communism is a dead theory [edit: lisab wins...]. The taboo is "socialism". But it isn't the concepts that are taboo, it is just the word. People don't like it and whether for or against the concepts in it will often react aggressively to the use of the word. As a result, people avoid usage of it at all costs. While researching for the other thread, I found these interesting little nuggets:

    Marx is widely considered as one of the most influential thinkers in history, cited by historians and in polls. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Marx#Influence

    and:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_socialist_movement_in_the_United_States#Socialism_today

    Yet people often vehemently deny influence from socialism/Marxism in the US. The recent thread argument is one of a great many examples on PF of people bristling at the idea that socialist policies/ideas have relevance in the US. And the issue has been brought up with Obama, particularly relating to the healthcare debate. Savvy marketters replaced a clear-cut reference to socialism in the labeling of the issue:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialized_medicine
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2012
  6. Aug 30, 2012 #5

    AlephZero

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    Interesting to compare that position with the UK, where for example Ralph Milliband (died 1994, father of the current Labour party leader Ed Milliband) was highly regaded as a Marxist academic, writing books with titles like "Class struggle in contemporary capitalism".

    That family backround probably isn't going to gain Ed Milliband much share of the vote, but neither is it likely to lose him any. I guess that in the USA having a father like that would be poliitical suicide.
     
  7. Aug 30, 2012 #6

    jtbell

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    It's still just about the worst thing you can call somebody in a political discussion, followed closely by "socialist." Maybe "Islamofascist" is up there with it nowadays.
     
  8. Aug 31, 2012 #7

    Ryan_m_b

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    In my experience the issue with the term socialism is the many different definitions people use coupled with the vehemence that some of those definitions invoke. The word can literally range from meaning welfare capitalism to totalitarian communism and can cover social, economic and/or political theory.

    I guess that one of the reasons "socialism" is taboo in the states is due to the decades of opposition to the USSR which probably contributed strongly to the American sense of identity.
     
  9. Sep 1, 2012 #8
    This is wrong, only Marxism–Leninism and other shades has been shown to not work.
     
  10. Sep 1, 2012 #9

    Pythagorean

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    There's no problem with adopting Marxist ideas into policy in the US. But a typical rhetorical tactic of the Republican party in the last 4-6 years has been to conflate liberalism with socialism. So now all liberals are considered socialists. The taboo with communism is essentially reversed: now it's taboo to call people communists because it was a popular propaganda mechanism in the last century. The new equivalent of that is socialism (though the repercussion are not nearly as intense this time around).

    Socialism is strictly anti-capitalism, while liberalism can be (and in the US, generally is) pro-capitalism. In fact, liberal policies during FDR's presidency were considered to have saved capitalism. There is such thing as a liberal socialist, but there is also such thing as a liberal capitalist. That is, we're talking about two independent axes here.
    a wiki intro to liberalism

    Particularly, socialism literally requires redistribution of property as a fundamental premise; liberalism does not. Liberalism is about making changes to the system via policy. If your goal with those policies is to redistribute wealth, then you are socialist liberal (i.e. Obama and the Democratic party practice this moderately, but calling someone "socialist" is still distinct from saying they adopt social policies... still somewhat weasel language). But if your policies simply go towards more fair business practices or seek to curtail corruption, or to ensure that social equality is being enforced, then socialism doesn't play a role.

    Furthermore, liberalism can lead to policies that redistribute wealth without being socialist because of inherit ideology ingrained in socialism (a sort of categorical imperative), vs. the emergent ideology of liberalism (the ends justify the means; i.e. if redistribution does actually make capitalism stronger, then redistribute.)

    The Harvard Political review comments on this:
    http://hpronline.org/united-states/liberalism-versus-socialism/

    But basically, the problem is that as a result of this rhetoric, people think tend to think that liberalism is "at the expense of capitalism" when it is, in fact, a necessary part of it. Without updating our regulation and social policies to change with the times, we would eventually have anarchy, not capitalism.
     
  11. Sep 3, 2012 #10

    chemisttree

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    ...and liberals are running away from that label as fast as they can now calling themselves 'Progressive'.
     
  12. Sep 3, 2012 #11

    Pythagorean

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    Is this really representative? More importantly, does it add anything to the discussion or is it just a random attempt to associate liberals with cowardice?
     
  13. Sep 3, 2012 #12
    I would say that almost all people (conservative and liberal) I know, (myself being American), support liberty and freedom in general and see it similarly to Mill in that they see them as being prerequisite to happiness. The majority view I see with all the conservative/capitalist people I talk to is that a free market it synonymous with freedom in general. The way they see it, if one cannot buy and sell as they please, then their inability to do so opens a means by which their freedom in general may be curtailed.
    From my interpretation, the major idea of communism is that the proletariat class is basically used by the bourgeoisie to further their interests. The majority of the working people I know deny this as being a bad thing, believing that the bourgeoisie are where they are because they worked hard, were better fit, etc.
    I tried to be as unbiased as I could, but for the sake of transparity, I will say that I lean more to the socialist side. I don't know what school I belong to, and it's a lot closer to a social market economy than capitalism.
     
  14. Sep 3, 2012 #13

    I would think it has just as much, if not more to do with the inherent evils of the communist system. The widespread use of torture, the prodigious amounts of forced labor (aka slavery), the famines cause for forced collectivization of farm land, the total deprivation of political and economic freedoms. Why this keeps getting overlooked is a complete mystery to me.
     
  15. Sep 3, 2012 #14

    russ_watters

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    Unless I misread and/or to clarify: Liberals are re-branding the word "liberal" as "progressive". Mainstream liberals have never self-labeled themselves "communists"!
     
  16. Sep 3, 2012 #15
    A liberal is a multidimensional object confined to a point on a line.
     
  17. Sep 4, 2012 #16

    Ryan_m_b

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    Interesting use of phrase, as written it would seem you are saying these things are a necessary aspect of communism rather than something communist countries have done. The distinction is important.
     
  18. Sep 4, 2012 #17
    Another factor worsening the famines is Lysenkoism where Stalin decided to believe the crackpottery of Lysenko over the scientific basics about genetics. Opponents were simply eliminated. An excellent case study for sociology.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2012
  19. Sep 4, 2012 #18

    phinds

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    The clear implication of that statement is that there are forms of communism that HAVE been shown to work. Please provide references.
     
  20. Sep 4, 2012 #19

    russ_watters

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    Meh - most communists and socialists I've come in contact with will begrudgingly acknowledge that no forms/incarnations of communism have been shown to work. But they will say that that doesn't preclude the possibility that there could be ways to make it work and that statement doesn't preclude that possibility.
     
  21. Sep 4, 2012 #20

    lisab

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    Perhaps on a small scale it could work. I've often heard reference to Israeli Kibbutz used as examples of successful communist communities. But those are very small communities -- protected by a government with a strong military.
     
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