Before supporting socialism, know what it represents

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I read with interest Daniel Radford’s appeal for socialism in the Daily Bee (Nov. 24), but I’m concerned that he may not fully understand what his creed involves. First, socialism is grounded on the assumption that government is society’s natural fix-it agency. The socialist doesn’t look to family, friends, neighbors and voluntary associations to address social and economic needs. For each and every problem, government is the answer.

This faith in government would seem more than a little naïve. Those of us who have watched how government operates, decade after decade, are skeptical. But if you can confidently say, “Yes, government is a rational, responsible, and effective problem-solving agency!” then by all means, Dan, go on printing your socialist manifestos.

Secondly, it’s important to be clear on the use of force. Traditionally, socialists have been very violent. From Russia to North Korea, from Cuba to China, the rise of socialism has meant killing lots of people. Do you deplore this violence?

If you have reservations about the use of force, then you need to rethink your faith in government, because government is based on force. The point can be hard to face, but it’s an inescapable fact. Take a simple-seeming measure like a minimum wage law. This is not a recommendation or a polite request. It is backed by state’s threat to use force — physical force — against an employer who does not comply.

The old socialists — Lenin, Mao and the others — embraced the widespread use of force. If you’re going to be a socialist, Dan, then you have to say, “Yes, force is a healthy foundation for social reform.” In fact, you might start your next letter to the Bee with that declaration so everyone will know where you stand.

JIM PAYNE

Sandpoint

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