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Why is socialism hated in America?

  1. Apr 28, 2003 #1
    Visit almost any European country and you will see that socialist, and in some case communist, parties are part of the mainstream political system. Socialist parties have formed governments, introduced legislation to establish the welfare state, comprising national health services, generous maternity and unemployment benefits, rights for labor unions and so on.

    These policies have created problems as well as given rise to benefits, but the best welfare states give their citizens as high a standard of living as in the United States (I have lived in both places and can make the comparison). What's more, most salaried people in Europe enjoy at least a month of paid annual vacation and work fewer hours than their American counterparts (I worked 32.5 hours a week as a magazine journalist in London. Unless you're a doctor or a high-flyer in business, you probably don't work more than 40 hrs a week in Europe). On the other hand, American homes are generally bigger than in Europe, as are the cars and the gas is cheaper.

    Broadly speaking, as an employee in Europe you have far more rights than in America. And as an employer, you probably have fewer rights: you can't just fire people at will.

    But my question is this, why in America is any political position left of Democrat hated, mistrusted and downright unpopular?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 28, 2003 #2
    Just a thought, but I imagine it's because the bourgouise (sp?) have been demonizing socialism, communism, etc. for 100+ years here. People hear socialism, and somebody shouts "communism" implying Soviet style oppression and death camps.
  4. Apr 28, 2003 #3
    Socialism is hated because, in truth, people want the benefits of society without paying for them.
  5. Apr 28, 2003 #4
    Socialism in Europe, or what is often called social-democracy (which might correspond to left Democrat), dislikes Soviet-style communism as much as it dislikes out and out, unrestrained capitalism. The socialists in Europe are democrats and have long given up the idea of state-run enterprises (except the Mail, Roads and Defence, etc). Here, in the bible belt, if you announce at a dinner party you're a socialist, well you might as well say you're a satanist or are attracted to sheep.
  6. Apr 28, 2003 #5
    In some places in the bible belt, the sheep thing is probably more accepted.

    Seriously, I think that most of it comes from the Red Scare/Cold War.
  7. Apr 29, 2003 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Greetings !

    I don't know the historical reasons.
    I do however, in general, believe that a well
    established and legislated privatized (not social)
    system can work just as well and its performance
    will remain mostly independent from many factors
    in the country that could otherwise influence it.
    Free education though is an important issue in
    favour of (again well established) socialism.
    (Though certainly not the case in many poorer
    countries that do have it.)

    Live long and prosper.
  8. May 3, 2003 #7
    EVer heard of that phrase "Godless Commies"?

    Especially in a location such as the Bible belt, anything "godless" is frowned upon and socialists and communists are one in the same in the eyes of a good bit of people.
  9. May 3, 2003 #8

    It must..after all, Jesus was a socialist. It also comes from the mistaken impression that everyone can be a millionaire, and if they don't, it is poor people's fault for it.
  10. May 5, 2003 #9
    The taxation question plays in too. In America, taxation is widely seen as theft. When people talk about taxes, they talk about useless bureaucracy, lazy unemployed and unemployable people, junkies and drug dealers requiring treatment and imprisonment at the tax payers' expense.

    Americans don't often talk about the good things taxes do, such as build roads and schools, maintain a strong defence and police force, helping to keep public radio and television running etc, etc.

    Without a basic understanding and sympathy for the reasons behind taxation, there is little chance of the kind of socialism which uses taxation to redistribute wealth and bring about reforms.

    It's not that people mind handing over money. Millions of people tithe up to 10% of their income to a church, so you can look at that as a form of taxation. Many folks spend a ridiculous amount on health insurance, that's like a tax. And the health issue could be solved cheaper via taxes to provide a national health service, but Americans (or rather the insurance companies) don't want that because it's state control and socialism.

    The left needs to be honest and open about taxes, it needs to sell the idea that those who can should pay more. It won't harm the economy, especially if the churches lose tax exemption status and the state or secular organizations get the money instead and do a better job with it.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2003
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