OPINION: It’s time to end socialism’s bad rep

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., recently released a new book entitled “The Case Against Socialism.” Behind this explicit title, one will find a dense and lengthy explanation as to why (despite the fact that socialism is gaining popularity amongst people in America, as a Gallup poll found) socialism is a dangerous political ideology which always brings about the impoverishment of nations, and why socialism never succeeds.

As a French-British person, I come from two countries where aspects of socialism are widely embraced in the political sphere, and a socialist ideology is far from being the fringe politics that it’s considered to be in the U.S.

After World War II, the reconstruction of both countries came through the establishment of a strong welfare state, weaving socialist ideals into the very fabric of their modern form of governments. France’s Socialist Party used to be one of the two leading parties holding political power for decades, according to Britannica.

No one can seem to agree on a single, simple definition of what socialism is or should be. However, what is clear is that materializations of socialist ideals are already everywhere, and thus, are not intrinsically un-American

I’ve always been at a loss when trying to understand exactly why socialism remains the Boogeyman of the U.S. It’s not just Rand Paul, or the Republican Party. 

The fact that President Donald Trump is anti-socialist won’t surprise many; at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, Trump used the term to repeatedly condemn Democratic policies, stating that “we believe in the American Dream, not in the socialist nightmare.” 

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But many elected representatives from the Democratic Party themselves try to stay as clear from the “socialist” label as possible, ranging from presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., explicitly stating “I am not a democratic socialist,” to reporters at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, to former presidential candidate John Delaney stating that “if we want to win and we want to beat Trump, we should not put up a candidate who embraces socialism,” according to The Hill.

The influence of the Cold War and McCarthyism days, trying to fight the “Red Scare” of communism, is definitely a force at play here. But even more so are the examples that keep being chosen as evidence of the socialist dangers. 

During an interview with The Daily Show host Trevor Noah, Paul started off introducing “The Case Against Socialism” by stating that “If you review the history of the last 100 years and every time we’ve tried socialism, it seems that time and time again, it ends in authoritarianism, it ends in genocide and famine.” 

He went on to cite cases of socialism, referencing the leadership of Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Fidel Castro and Mao Zedong. 

But Noah pointed out that people often blame the faults of countries on socialism, even when the countries are plagued by a number of other issues such as corruption.

Furthermore, it’s dishonest to fail to mention other states for which bringing in aspects of socialism into policies has brought fruitful results: France, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Norway.

No one can seem to agree on a single, simple definition of what socialism is or should be. However, what is clear is that materializations of socialist ideals are already everywhere, and thus, are not intrinsically un-American

Publicly owned lands such as parks or grazing land, public libraries and public sports centers: These are already part of a socialist reality that America lives in. 

Megan Chourreau-Lyon is a Pitzer College exchange student who is from France and the U.K. She’s passionate about politics and law, Brexit being over and cheese.

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