The twentieth century was a doozy when it came to advancements in technology, warfare, and society as a whole. The first half held two wars that were the biggest the world had ever seen, and even today they’re talked about in great depth. No one wants to go back to a period like that, and no one should. However, the latter half of the century had warfare based on technology, deceit, and paranoia. The 1900’s were filled with what we now call the “Red Scare”, which started after World War I and continued after World War II. This phenomenon was brought on by the rise of communism and the fear of it taking over.
Communism is usually most associated with the USSR within the minds of a lot of Americans, however, they weren’t the only ones who went for this change in structure. Even today, China, Cuba, and Vietnam are all communist, which is ironic given we went to war with the last one to prevent that very thing from happening when South Vietnam opposed it. So, why is there such a fear of communism itself? Well, there are multiple reasons to that. First off, it’s heavily associated with Cold War and the constant fear of nuclear war the world had during the Red Scare. Second, it’s a fear of the authoritarian government that the USSR had during its reign. The word Socialist is associated with that authoritarian regime despite it not actually being a socialist system.
Well, what is socialism? You might ask, if you’re not aware. Socialism is a system that puts the means of production in the hands of the people. In simpler terms, it gives people the right to have stakes in the businesses they participate in. So, think worker co-ops where everyone votes on changes within the company and gets paid equally for their jobs. It’s meant to help fix the wealth inequality we face under Capitalism. There are two prominent forms of Socialism, those being Market and Non-Market variants. Market Socialism keeps our market system in tact, but gives more control to the people, rather than large corporations. It’s an evolution of our current system with a focus more on equality and humanitarianism. Non-market Socialism seeks to fix the inequality in Capitalism by scrapping it altogether in favor of Economic Planning. It, like its Market counterpart, is more concerned with people rather than corporate entities. So, there’s your hyper-simplified lesson on the basic idea of Socialism. So, how does this relate to the USSR?
The USSR was an authoritarian government, which more closely resembled state capitalism. While they called themselves a socialist state, the few had more power than the many and dictated everything that happened without a vote. In all honesty, the USSR was closer to what we have now, but a more extreme version. Despite all of this information, Americans still can’t bear to discuss Socialism because of its wrongful association with Communist Russia. That fear is what keeps people from voting for candidates that only want to help people.
What do we do to change all of this? Well, we continue to move forward and bring the discussion to the political forefront so that more people can be properly educated on the subject matter. Right now, we’re working with a highly ignorant society when it comes to Socialist ideology. People like Bernie Sanders, who is a Democratic Socialist, has helped bring the ideology to the public and get a higher approval rating for it as well. He’s not the only one, either. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is also a Democratic Socialist and plans to implement those ideas when and where she can. People like them can help build awareness and interest in the movement.
With the socialist movement growing in the USA, we continue to open minds each year and because of that, eventually we’ll reach a point where a better system can truly be implemented. Capitalism is tearing this country apart and despite some Americans swearing by it, an evolution to Socialism could greatly benefit the majority of people in this country. If you still fear the system I talked about here, do some research and come to your own conclusions rather than trusting others to tell you the truth. Knowledge is power, my fellow Americans, so educate yourselves.