Readers Write: Just to clarify points on socialism


Once again, Walter Jaworski has decided to challenge my arguments in letters I have written about Democratic socialism. In “Readers Write,” he made fatuous statements on Feb. 15, Feb. 22 and, again, on March 8.

My major point has been that Democratic socialism and communism are two very distinct and different things. I explained that Democratic socialists believe in free and unfettered elections and when they lose, they peacefully turn over power to the victorious party.

This has been the case in France, England, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, Israel and the Scandinavian countries. Here’s the proof.

Following World War II, Clement Atlee’s Labor Party defeated Winston Churchill’s Conservative Party, but later the Conservatives returned… no fighting, no bloodbath, just a peaceful transition. In France, Leon Blum was prime minister from 1936-37 and Pierre Mendes-France from 1954-55.

Both of these gentlemen were socialists and both relinquished power when defeated — again, no rioting in the streets.

In Israel, there were a string of prime ministers including Golda Meir, Shimon Peres, Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak… all Democratic socialists who peacefully surrendered power to the Likud Party under Bibi Netanyahu’s leadership. And he, in spite of charges of corruption, has remained prime minister longer than any other person in that nation’s history.

So what does Mr. Jaworski take away from this?

On March 9, he quotes Lenin and Solzhenitsyn and writes about Venezuela and the horrors which occurred under Stalin. Agreed! I don’t defend the Gulags or the “purge trials,” but I blame them on the criminals who distorted much of what Marx and Engels wrote.

I should not fault Jaworski too harshly because last week Katy Tur of MSNBC was interviewing Rick Tyler, a Republican strategist. He made statements similar to Jaworski, which were fallacious and even the progressive host of the show didn’t correct him.

This leads to the sad conclusion that many, if not most, Americans are unaware of the difference I have painstakingly spelled out here. One lesson we should all learn is that “communism ain’t socialism.”

We have a presidential election coming up in 2020 and socialism will be on the agenda. President Trump will try to confuse the electorate — he will not make nuanced historical distinctions. There will be an attack upon Bernie Sanders, and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortes. They will be called socialists. Our job is to refute the Republican “noise machine.”

Dr. Hal Sobel

Great Neck










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