while 50% saw it in a negative light. (The figures were almost exactly the opposite – 50% positive, 19% negative – for the word “capitalism.”) Given the negative reflex in the collective muscle memory of many Americans toward socialism, it’s low-hanging fruit for politicians to smear opponents as “socialists.” (And of course, their job is a lot easier when high- profile Democrats like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez embrace the term.) And so it’s been easy for Trump and co. to cry “socialism.” But... cheap politicking and Cold War reflexiveness isn’t helping us out. I know this sounds like heresy... but listen to what historian Heather Cox Richardson has written on the subject... The American obsession with socialism has virtually nothing to do with actual international socialism, which developed in the early twentieth century. International socialism is based on the ideas of political theorist Karl Marx, who believed that, as the working class was crushed under the wealthy during late stage capitalism, it would rise up to take control of the factories, farms, utilities, and so on, taking over the means of production. So why does that matter? Well... there’s a big difference between the sorts of ideas that Karl Marx promoted – and what people in the United States call “socialism.” One is a toxic economic disaster – and the other might look surprisingly familiar.
Given the negative reflex in the collective muscle memory of many Americans toward socialism, it’s low-hanging fruit for politicians to smear opponents as “socialists.” a Biden victory. I don’t want to live under Communist rule”)... it sounds as if we’re headed for an apocalyptic clash of ideology as those socialist Democrats come to power. For decades in the United States, labeling an opponent as a socialist or communist has been the political equivalent of setting off a stink bomb in a stuffy math classroom. Most Americans old enough to remember the Cold War associate the concepts of “communism” and “socialism” with the old Soviet Union. Those guys were the furry-hatted, vodka-drinking villains. And communism, as practiced in the old Iron Curtain nations, collapsed in on itself. LISTENING TO THE REPUBLICANS... everyone from Trump, to the head of the Republican National Convention (“Democrats have chosen to go down the road to socialism”), to former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations (and 2024 Republican presidential hopeful) Nikki Haley (“[Democrats’] vision for America is socialism”), to a Trump supporter in Arizona quoted in the New York Times (“I won’t accept Old perceptions die hard... An NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll taken in February 2019 found that just 18% of Americans viewed the term “socialism” positively,
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