Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating state, public or common worker ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with a more egalitarian method of compensation.Now I'm going to avoid naming individuals in the current climate (except the pic to the right because it's a cool pic), because this is about the overriding philosophy and not individual douchebaggery. But a socialist, broadly defined, works to achieve as state that functions under socialism. And it is fair to draw the conclusion that some one is a socialist when their political ideas, plans, and laws can be found in the pages of The Communist Manifesto (ill-formed conjoined twin of socialism):
1. Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes [an extreme of eminent domain].
2. A heavy progressive or graduated income tax [our current code, more or less].
3. Abolition of all right of inheritance [can be achieved with inheritance tax].
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the State, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly [or maybe through government bailouts].
6. Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State [FCC, and federal highway funds for behavior].
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State [GM, Chrysler];
8. Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies [labor unions],
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equal distribution of the population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in [government] schools [our current broken system].
Now to clarify, that doesn't mean everything in the above list is automatically evil (just most). And after I sussed out the above list, I found a more comprehensive (and a little paranoid) list. The point is that socialism is not necessarily an all-or-nothing prospect, but a powerful weed in the garden. Controlled, it's something you have to deal with on occasion. unchecked, it destroys the garden.
Socialism in theory sounds lovely. After all, who would be against this:
THE SOCIALIST PARTY strives to establish a radical democracy that places people's lives under their own control -- a non-racist, classless, feminist, socialist society in which people cooperate at work, at home, and in the community.
I would, for one. Because a cooperative democracy with personal freedom sounds great in theory. But the Romans valued democracy. But democracy gave rise to the rule of Caesars. In Russia, the people rose up against the czars, and swept in the communist usurpers. The National Socalist Pary, and particularly their fearless (and nucking futs) leader, one Adolf Hitler, was wildly popular as he rallied his country back from its crippling post-war state, educating children and building infrastructure. Of course this paved the way for brainwashing, war, and genocide. More recently, the popularly elected Hugo Chavez has been gathering more power unto himself (and is "elected" for life).
This is because socialism ignores human nature. We are predatory species, instinctively hierarchical, and intellectually motivated by our own self-interest. And while we promote many of the ideals that socialism does through religion and other social compacts, it's only a stopgap against how we function. And it's only the value we find in fulfilling our own rational self-interest in pursuing a more enlightened agenda that keeps us from simply giving up and going with our animal selves.
So it all comes back to today's discussions, whether it be about the government stimulating the economy for the "common good" or making health coverage universal for the "common good" or taking over the car companies for the "common good." The point is that anything can be justified in the name of the "common good" as long as you aren't the person getting the shaft.
And while President Obama is not an insane despot like many of the socialists listed above, he follows the same model in gaining power, as do far too many politicians who off their hand out with a piece of candy to lure us into their political Bang Bus, with the result being the same.
There is a reason we are a constitutional republic and not a democracy: Any pure democracy is always one vote from despotism, when the people abdicate responsibility to the snake oil salesman who promises to make their lives better. This is why you see socialist countries glom on to such misnaming words like "people's" "democratic" and "republic" when they are clearly autocratic.
Now for those of you who don't mind this (as I know I have socialists that read my wisdom), that's your choice. But let's be honest about what you're doing, as opposed to trying to bullshit people into it.