By Lloyd Omdahl
“America will never be a socialist nation,” prophesied President Trump in his Feb.5 State of the Union Address. He may have been wrong about some things in the past but this time he is absolutely right.
Communism will never work anywhere in the world as long as human beings are human beings. It failed because we are greedy and selfish. Therefore, we do not subscribe to the Marxist idea of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” no matter what the early Christians did. It doesn’t work.
Socialism would demand the same selflessness required for communism. Properly defined, socialism is a system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution of capital and land in the government.
With the new Democratic Congress, advocates for government solutions for the problems of society have been brought into the national dialogue, e.g. Medicare for all, free college for all, etc. etc. None of these dreamers have proposed that the government nationalize the means of production or ownership of land.
Since 2016, the popularity of the Democratic Socialists of America (the real ones) has grown from 5,000 members to 60,000. Polls show that many younger Americans think socialism is better than capitalism. But never fear. Greed is an impregnable barrier to common ownership.
Of course, all of this talk about socialism does not scare North Dakotans any more than a 60-mile wind blowing 10 inches of snow. We have two trophies that look like socialism – the North Dakota Mill and Elevator and the Bank of North Dakota. But they do not make North Dakota a socialist state.
What is being proposed by the new left is not communism or socialism. It is within the context of being a national community in which we demonstrate our concern for each other and acknowledge that we are all in the U.S.A. together.
Our national community of concerns include defense (big military), care of nature (national parks & dams), a guaranteed retirement (social security), health care (Medicare and Medicaid) and scores of other services assumed at the national level, most of which were labelled as socialism at the outset.
They hardly rise to the level of socialism but are demonstrations of concerns as a community for the well-being of the nation and its people. Advocates of more government apparently feel that as a community we should create and expand services.
While a paradigm of communities for the national and state governments is difficult for some to grasp, the concept gets easier when we localize it. In fact, our counties, towns and churches function within the concept of community without thinking about it.
At the local level where we live, community building becomes more important, especially when it comes inclusion and exclusion. Because the United States is so big, we find it easy to exclude people we don’t like at the national level. Every new immigration, from the Irish Catholics in the 1840s to the Chinese in 1924, has been hard to digest. However, we eventually accepted them in the national community.
So the new left proposals are not socialism but a matter of determining how far we want to go in building a national caring community. How much defense do we need? How much health care do we need? How much of nature should we preserve? How many immigrants can we handle?
Answers to these and other questions can be done as a caring national community without being either communist or socialist.