"America has got the equivalent of the stage three cancer of socialism because the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in," Akin said, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.
In the ongoing War on Student Loans™, which itself is an offshoot on the GOP War on Everything That Isn't Laissez-Faire Capitalism or Fundamentalist Christian Conservatism™, House Rep. Todd Akin compared federal student loans to a terminal cancer coursing through the veins and lymph nodes of a bedridden America. As one of three GOP candidates vying for the chance to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill, Akin needs a memorable sound bite for the low-information set to remember him by.
Akin's attack on federal student loans as a socialist device led me to wonder about the genuine meaning of socialism and how conservatives are using the word to tar and feather any remotely helpful federal program that doesn't feed kickbacks to the right conservative interests. The ever-helpful Merriam-Webster dictionary has three definitions of the word for us to work with:
- Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.
- A system of society or group living in which there is no private property, or a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.
- 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.
I'm not a scholar of the works or ideology of Karl Marx, so I won't attempt to delve into the intricacies of Marxist theory or how it relates to economics and so forth. All I know is that the man's mug tends to get conservatives in a tizzy. Ditto for the whole concept of socialism. Seems that anything that involves sharing or doing for everyone else's good gets conservatives all fired up. Republicans play on the fear of Democrats putting paid to the second definition by forcefully expropriating private businesses and properly a la Atlas Shrugged or a shoddy second-tier dictatorship to gain loyal conservative votes. Most Americans don't have that good of a grasp on what the above really means to genuinely understand how they're being played.
Republicans are masters of taking otherwise innocuous words and converting them to four-letter epithets -- just about anyone can see what they've done to the word "liberal." It's gotten to the point where many Democrats are scared shitless to even appear as a dreaded "liberal," instead preferring to trend as close to GOP-lite as possible without changing party mascots. Using "socialism" as a four-letter word to discredit government programs is just one of the many tricks in the GOP magic bag.
It's gotten to the point where "socialism" can be readily defined as any government action that benefits the poor, disadvantaged or minorities. Exceptions include programs that funnel taxpayer money to corporate interests and traditional GOP pork projects -- that's helping out "job creators," "standing up for America," etc,. Basically, anything that does not benefit conservatives can be written off as being "socialist." Even entire people can be tarred and feathered as being "socialist," as the "socialist Marxist communist Kenyan Usurper in Chief" himself can attest to. In short, if it's against conservative interests and helpful to liberals, it's deemed "socialist."
We've been through this before with the "Red Scare" and communism, but that was only because the Soviet Union was locked at the hip to those words*. Still, it worked out pretty well for Joe McCarthy until he was asked if he had any decency left. "Communism" as a four-letter word hasn't worked as well against China, which practices a nominal name-only form that's closer to what some conservatives really want, which is unfettered capitalism on steroids and beta blockers. Americans were thoroughly conditioned to the binary response of "communist = bad" and today, it's the same for "socialism."
One of the biggest mistakes that liberals and Democrats make is fighting against these transmogrified words, as it only adds credence to how "bad" these words are. When insults are hurled at Republicans and conservatives in general, they go so far as to use them as a badge of honor or a term of endearment. When Dems twist themselves up explaining how their ideas are not "socialist," they wind up buttressing the new meaning given to the word. Not saying that the Dems should accept being "socialist," but it would help if they would just sometimes say "so fucking what?" every once in a while.
As an aside, let's take a closer look at Akin accusing the federal government of getting all up in America's Kool-Aid:
....the federal government is tampering in all kinds of stuff it has no business tampering in...
Of course, until you get to abortion, gay marriage and basically anything that has to do with morality. The federal government is free to mess about in that business, but it must most definitely fuck off when it comes to doing anything that's actually noteworthy, like regulating businesses or making sure rent-seeking corporate interests not have free reign over the nation's economy. You know, that kind of business.
*Funny how the German National Socialists escaped that ignominy. Of course, it helps to have a catchy shortname ("Nazis") and not visibly identify one's self to Marxism.