Readers Write: Showing a lack of understanding about socialism


The job of the newspaper is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.

— Finley Peter Dunne

I believe that is precisely what I did in my letter called “The Truth About Socialism.” It certainly spurred Walter Jaworski of New Hyde Park and Sarah Adams of Plandome to respond in a critical fashion.

Their letters confirmed my thesis that most people do not understand the various types of socialism and therefore arrive at erroneous conclusions.

Jaworski points out that Winston Churchill called socialism “a philosophy of failure.”

This should come as no surprise since Clement Atlee of England’s Labor Party defeated Churchill, a member of the Conservative party, after World War II.

Jaworski also quotes Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who faced Labor party opposition throughout her career. This would be similar to having Hillary Clinton evaluate Donald Trump’s presidency.

While I am certain that Adams read my letter, she missed the most salient point (i.e. there is a clear distinction between Communism and Democratic Socialism).

I differentiated between Communist countries like Russia, China, Cuba and Venezuela and nations with Democratic Socialist parties like England, Israel, and the Scandinavian nations. It is not difficult to understand the differences.

Communist countries are totalitarian and despotic. Democratic Socialist countries believe in free elections and when the Socialists lose, they peacefully turn over power to the party which beat them.

Had Adams grasped this simple point, she might not have written about “the Berlin Wall, the Gulag, the killing fields of Cambodia, the Tiananmen Square massacre and the daily bread lines in Moscow.”

I deplore each of these and Adams should know this. She also writes that “Socialism is responsible for the deaths of more than 100 million victims.”

Had she stated that the cause of these deaths was Communism, I would have agreed with her. Sadly, her thinking is not that nuanced.

Adams thinks I am opposed to capitalism which as she points out is responsible for “much of what we enjoy today.”

I couldn’t agree more with her staunch pro-capitalist position. However, a closer reading of my piece would reveal that we are neither one thing or the other.

In fact, the most accurate description of our economic system would be “a mixed economy.” This means that we embrace government programs like Medicare, while at the same time applauding entrepreneurship. Had our social studies teachers used the phrase “mixed economy” we would all be more enlightened.

I suspect that the reason this is not in common parlance is that we would have to admit the virtues of certain socialist policies. Put simply, we are brainwashed by our culture not to acknowledge the benefits of any governmental policy such as Obamacare.

The president must have known that Blank Slate Media was publishing my letters on socialism because in his State of the Union address on Feb. 5 he said: “America will never be a socialist country.”

This led to still another standing ovation from Republicans in the audience. Not exuberant were Bernie Sanders and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, two self-proclaimed Democratic Socialists.

But in several polls conducted after the speech, Sanders came out ahead of Trump in a one to one match-up.

Next week I will describe proposals by Elizabeth Warren and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez which would change the face of America.

Dr. Hal Sobel

Great Neck






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