Few words today are the subject of a debate like “socialism.” To some it is the path to ruin, to others a system that is truly the great equalizer. This week #socialism trended on social media after former U.S. Ambassador to the UN and the 116th Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) posted on Twitter, “2020 was the year socialism went mainstream. The dangerous ideology, which has failed everywhere it has been tried & ruined countless lives, is on its way to becoming the default economic policy of the Democratic Party. This terrifying trend threatens the future of every American.”
It didn’t take long for some of the more progressive users on Twitter to respond – sharing their own thoughts on what socialism is and is not.
Former professional tennis player Martina Navratilova (@Martina) made a case that even the extreme left of the current American mainstream political spectrum isn’t actually socialism, “Can you please give a concrete example? Because I kind of know socialism and I am not seeing anything resembling socialism from our Democratic Party… thank you!”
Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1), a senior producer for MSNBC’s The Last Words, also suggested that Haley was wrong, and posted, “None of this is true. It seems Nikki Haley is, once again, more interested in scaring Americans than telling the truth.”
However, others agreed with Haley’s warnings. Among those was attorney Albin Czarnik (@AlbinC10) who countered, “I’m glad you recognize the danger of socialism. The theory sounds good on paper, but it is against the human nature and it never works. It benefits a few politicians on top and it brings tyranny to everyone else.”
The Meaning of Socialism
Many who disagreed with Haley have suggested that elements of socialism already work in America, while others suggested that Haley and opponents of socialism don’t truly know what socialism actually means.
Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald), a New York Times bestselling author, responded to Haley’s tweet directly, “Really? Name a policy and explain how it is ‘socialism.’ After you define what the word means. Now, I CAN say that this was the year fascism went mainstream to undermine democracy. Delusions, a central strongman, hypernationalism, attacks on ‘socialists’ – HEY! You do that!”
Washington Times national security correspondent and author Bill Gertz (@BillGertz) countered and posted, “Maybe it was pushed because it’s not a scare tactic. It’s true.”
To Each According To Their Needs
Of those who took issue with Haley was actress Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) who called out Haley, “Should I translate this- The American people getting $2,000 during a pandemic while many are hungry or on the edge of homelessness where much of the world has given its citizens far more is terrifying to you.”
Multimedia journalist David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) was among those who was quite vocal and colorful regarding the subject, “It’s f***ing ridiculous that the @gop spends TRILLIONS of dollars bailing out corporations that make stupid financial decisions and should go out of business but cry ‘Socialism’ and throw a tantrum over giving actual Americans financial assistance during a plague #TuesdayThoughts”
Democratic socialist activist James Foster (@JamesEFoster) attempted to argue that socialism is about helping people. “Socialism is about meeting people’s needs. Capitalism is about meeting people’s greed. Socialism is about selflessness. Capitalism is about selfishness. Course those who benefit so handsomely from capitalism would label socialism as evil; it attacks their greed & selfishness.”
While Foster’s views may sound appealing – other users have countered it is only true if people are about helping others meet their needs and are actually selfless. @vanarcho_gascap responded to Foster, “Socialism is about the collective. Capitalism is about the individual. Socialism is about involuntarism. Capitalism is about voluntarism. Course those who benefit so handsomely from socialism would label capitalism as evil; it attacks their (lack of)skills and work ethic.”
Twitter user @divine_virtues also countered Foster’s view noting, “When there is no consequence for poor work ethic, and no reward for good work ethic, there is no motivation.”
@JustIsPatriot added, “Capitalism is the ability to own property, to distinguish yourself by your own merits and work ethic, to grow and be free.”
This latest debate on social media again highlights the divide, but in this case it isn’t so much about politicians as it is political systems, and healing that divide could be far more challenging.