When did socialism become a bad word?

There’s a new buzzword in politics these days. Well, actually it’s an old word that has reared its head again, and is being used as a club, a boogie man, a euphemism for all that is wrong in this country and others.

That word is ‘socialism’. And one doesn’t just say it these days. One spits it. With contempt.

Back at the State of the Union speech in February, U.S. President Donald Trump brought up the evils of socialism, swearing the U.S. would never be a socialist country.

And it’s not just in the U.S. The word socialism is cropping up again and again in B.C., mainly by the B.C. Liberal Party to describe the ruling NDP. Several MLAs have dropped the ’socialist’ word in recent weeks.

We can expect to hear more of it as time goes on.

My questions is, when did socialism become a bad word?

There are of course many definitions of socialism.

Merriam Webster defines it thusly:

1 any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property

b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

3 : a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done.

“In the many years since socialism entered English around 1830, it has acquired several different meanings. It refers to a system of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control, but the conception of that control has varied, and the term has been interpreted in widely diverging ways, ranging from statist to libertarian, from Marxist to liberal. In the modern era, “pure” socialism has been seen only rarely and usually briefly in a few Communist regimes. Far more common are systems of social democracy, now often referred to as democratic socialism, in which extensive state regulation, with limited state ownership, has been employed by democratically elected governments (as in Sweden and Denmark) in the belief that it produces a fair distribution of income without impairing economic growth.”

Fair to say that Canada is a social democracy. We have socialized, and much valued despite its shortcomings, medicine. We have socialized education up to the end of secondary school. And many other programs that are socialist in nature.

Comedian Bill Maher asked a pointed question on his Real Time show last Friday night.

“If socialism is such a one-way ticket to becoming the nightmare of Venezuela, then why do all the happiest countries in the word embrace it?”

Maher then displayed a chart of the worlds happiest countries according to the World Happiness Report.

The are from 10 to 1, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Finland.

What do all these countries have in common? They are all western social democracies.

They all have systems where a certain level of taking care of the less fortunate is just a given. Now granted most of them also have right of centre parties who preach against that, but for the most part, these social democracies remain intact, even when the right governs.

Stephen Harper, although reviled by those on the left, was never accused of being a dummy. And he knew that tampering with Canada’s health care system too much was a no go. So while he likely shuddered at the very ‘socialistic’ system, he refrained from doing much more than lightly whittling at the edges of the sacred cow.

And while right-leaning parties are starting to whisper the bad word ‘socialism’ more and more, I don’t thing they will ever find there is a lot of traction is trying to mess with things like health care and education.

Socialism may be the new bad word, but we like our socialistic programs just fine, thank you.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 70 new cases overnight

The total number of cases in the region is now at 1,426

RCR’s snow making is one of the bulk water users in Kimberley. Matt Mosteller file
Kimberley bulk water rates to rise 20 per cent if bylaw adopted

Bylaw given first three readings this week

David Moskowitz file
Wildsight to present webinar on Inland Temperate Rainforest

Join Wildsight next Tuesday, December 1, 2020 for a free webinar on… Continue reading

Carmen Hintz (right) donates $500 to Heather Smith (left) at the Kimberley Food Bank, leftover cash after fundraising to rescue four kittens. Paul Rodgers photo.
Local’s extra kitten fundraiser money donated to Kimberley Food Bank

Carmen Hintz donates $500, after raising money to support rescued cats

Ryder and Cohen of Kimberley Minor Hockey can play on with new mandates from the Provincial Health Officer. Photo submitted.
Kimberley Minor Hockey president hopes to see curve flatten for a return to hockey

New COVID-19 orders put in place by the government last week stated… Continue reading

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Most Read