A Few Kind Words About Socialism And Democracy

It is a shame that communism (a bastardization of the concept of socialism) emerged in Russia as a result of the revolution against upperclass rule. The overthrow of the Russian elite so scared American capitalist that they began a relentless campaign again the entire concept of socialism, even as regards its positive attributes.

Anything that supported the general welfare of the nation became in their eyes a personal threat to their grand lifestyle, their “freedom” — an out and out evil. They demanded that total, unfettered freedom be understood as the American way. National government must be deemed a necessary malevolence at best.

Yet the basic purpose of American liberal democracy was meant to be a check on those of great wealth and power that they not be allowed to abridge the freedom of average citizens. As President Abraham Lincoln said when fighting against the Southern slave system, American freedom needed to be preserved in perpetuity as a government “by and for the people.”

Capitalism can function well in a liberal democracy as a positive economic engine only so long as it is prevented from becoming the strangler of the very government that protects the freedom of the many from the abuses of the few. This is a basic premise of democratic freedom that Republican ideology often fails to comprehend, as it seems bent on serving only it wealthy benefactors. Of course there have been times when Democrats as well have been guilt of serving special interests ahead of the national interest. But in the main Democrats understand the value and purpose of government to work for the benefit of all the nation’s citizens.

Republican wealthy types often complain that the power of government to redistribute the fruits of their labor is a tyrannical imposition upon their freedom to succeed — a tax upon achievement. The truth is that with freedom also comes responsibility. For those who reap the greatest economic success within the nation also falls the greatest duty to pay the highest portion of the nation’s infrastructure, including its social safety net.

In fact over time those of immence success and power do even better when the entire nation does well. It is only the shortsighted, egocentric greedy types who suck wealth out of the country, placing it into offshore bank accounts and seeing to it that special legislation is written to benefit them alone who are a detriment to the nation’s general welfare. It is these folks who most threaten our democracy and if unchecked would turn America into the world’s largest banana republic that serves only a select few.

Pretending to be a friend of the average worker while passing huge tax cuts that overwhelmingly favors the super wealthy is a high form of treason. It is to rob the critical funds needed to support the nation’s social and physical infrastructure. If those who have the means to pay the bills are let go from their responsibility, who is going to pay teachers, firemen, first responders, air traffic controllers, meat inspectors road and bridge maintainers and the hundreds of other vital services that keep a great nation healthy?

There are those super wealth, like Warren Buffett, who understands that their responsibility to society and the nation is to give back what they can. Indeed, to be wealthy and to succeed wildly is not and should not be viewed as a crime in the United States of America. But manipulating the laws of the land in ways that absolve those with the big bucks from their responsibility to pay their fair share should be viewed as a crime.

Democracy and freedom are not free. Someone has always got to pay the freight, and if those who can don’t the country as a whole becomes an impoverished nothing special place to reside. Democracy, especially its socialistic components, needs to be carefully nurtured.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!

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