When the majority of people spoke of Socialism for many years, what they really referred to is Marxist Socialism. Some confuse Marxism with Communism but that’s not exactly accurate, either. If you want a better distinction between the two than I can offer, I advise listening to Dr Richard Wolff.
In summary, Communism and the Bolshevik Revolution initially began with Marxist Socialism as a goal. However, it was diverted along the way by numerous forces which distorted it.
However, this is not about a history lesson. Nor is a full college course definition of Marxism the point I am making here. There are many sources for that information easily available.
If a person is informed on exactly what Marxist Socialism truly is, one can easily define it as a society which places the welfare and well-being of the society above that of the individual. It is the members of that society utilizing the resources produced by that society to help all members of the community. It involves strict regulations of resources and oversight of monetary policies to enforce fair distribution of goods, services and money. The regulations are determined by the very members of the society in question. Policies and laws are debated and voted into place by a democratic majority of regular citizens taking part in the process, each with an equal stake in the outcome and/or consequences of their decisions.
In opposition to Socialism is Capitalism, in which there is little to no oversight of the distribution of resources. The distribution of goods and services are unfairly diverted to those who gain the greater share of those resources, by nearly any means possible. Goods and services are produced by the many for the benefit of the few. Laws and regulations are determined by what benefits the already powerful, with no input by the members of society. The elite suffer virtually no consequences for their actions or decisions, while the consequences are suffered in severe form by the successively lower classes. In modern times, we can clearly see the capitalist system as a direct descendant of slavery and feudalism.
Unfortunately, in this country we have been basically banned from even discussing Socialism for decades. To even mention Socialism raised the contrived specter of an evil enemy, a narrative construct created by elite propagandists to keep the masses in line, subservient to the masters and mistresses of the manors. Generations have been indoctrinated to believe that capitalism is the only system which offers freedom, even as we sacrificed our freedom and our very lives on the altar of the capitalist religion. The servants have warred amongst ourselves to defend our own oppression.
Times have changed. Much of this is thanks to one of the most Socialist constructions ever. The internet. More specifically, social media. While nobody can deny that much of social media is emotionally reactionary behavior, ideas still manage to get through and eventually discussed if perpetuated enough.
This is why the corporate culture has been rising to attempt to censor these ideas. Yet then they must face the backlash of protests, outcries and, most importantly, the threat of losing their audience and consumer base which provides their revenue stream. The threat exists that users will abandon their platforms and form new platforms, never to return. So, should the corporate media sources tolerate some ideas for short term profit? Or censor speech in an effort to control the narrative? Capitalists will always and consistently choose short term profit, even when they know they will suffer some level of defeat further down the road.
One big problem is that our society still believes too much in capitalism as a model. They listen too intently to corporate propaganda fearmongering about the dangers of Socialism.
We have been emotionally conditioned to react emotionally rather than think critically or understand concepts. We have been conditioned to fear simple words without knowing their meaning. Yet this country has had Socialist programs in place for decades, without which the economy would collapse and humans would suffer. Social Security, public schools, public roads, worker safety laws, health departments, environmental protection laws, wage laws, consumer protection laws and more are all Socialist in nature. These programs and other Socialist constructs are responsible for millions of jobs resulting in trillions of dollars in tax revenue.
It is not taxes which are the problem but how those taxes are spent which pose the problem. Our taxes benefit the rich far more than society in general. Bombs and weapons create very few jobs and save no lives at all. Medical care, infrastructure and education save lives, improve lives and don’t directly kill anyone. Yet they create jobs across the country, across the planet.
While our grasp of the benefits of Socialism is improving, we are not yet evolved enough for Marxism. Even the vast majority of those who support Social Democracy are still prone to the mindset of capitalism and consumerism which we have been immersed in for our entire lives. We are not yet evolved enough emotionally, educationally, intellectually or even spiritually to move directly toward Marxism. Just by virtue of the psychological and emotional maturity of our populace, any possible move toward true Socialism will have to be done by gradual steps. We already see the lesser evolved populace fighting in favor of their own oppression, their own suffering, their own insecurity, even their own deaths. They are simply unable to break free of their indoctrinated programming.
One must recall that the two major countries that have utilized any form of expansive Marxism both did so only after being decimated by world wars, the USSR by WWI and China by WWII. People were desperate, their cities, infrastructure and economies laid waste. They enacted Socialism as they rebuilt their socioeconomic systems and even then only with extreme struggle and civil unrest. In addition, they both faced the exact same adversaries which we face now- Corporate influences and the capitalist-enabling US government, backed up by a massive military force. Yes, if we try and move too quickly toward Socialism, we will definitely confront US military force and militarized police on our own streets, in our own homes.
I have no doubt we can eventually make the move toward Socialism. It would be natural social evolution and maturation. It will simply have to happen over a long period of time and include mass education to prove the concept. Each of us in favor of Socialism can help by pointing out the Socialist programs we already have in place and their benefits to both society and the general economy. Still, even we must accept the fact that the only way it will stand a chance of occurring is for us to follow in the same economic path by which it has taken hold in other countries. That is to say, capitalism MUST fail completely, forcing the majority of the population to come to complete realization that a new system to replace it is mandatory. Our only other choice would be reinstating slavery. If that happened, who gets to choose who the slaves would be? What would happen to those who did not own slaves or resources? Their labor would not be needed on any significant scale. To a populace blind to the fact that they are already enslaved to debt, desensitized to our own suffering, to give up more rights may not seem like a frightening concept. Our society has become secure in our own insecurity.
The necessary collapse of capitalism is coming soon. It has been inevitable for many years and is completely unavoidable at this point. The illusion can no longer be maintained. It will be the capitalists who have used the capitalist system as a religion, a drug, a means of self definition who will collapse as the system collapses. People who define themselves as capitalists will be unable to adapt, unaware of who they are without their possessions. Sadly, we can expect many to take their own lives rather than adapt. Some may try and take the lives of others. It will be tragic but we must expect it.
It is time for us to face these facts at this moment, without waiting or trying to defer the mental evolution to a later date. It is time for each of us to be the grownups in the room. The already evolved will find no true challenge in adapting to such a reality. We will have no problem leading the way forward.