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“we need to make sure that systems are built on the notion that the power and influence flows downward and is ubiquitous rather than a flow towards consolidation.” This is accomplished through balanced government.
In recent polls, socialism has gained significant traction over the past decade in America. Not only have larger scale social programs been implemented, but democratic socialist candidates gained favor as well. Major social programs like reparations, government paid college tuition, and nationalized health care have been key staples in debates. Generational divides have become wider in the information age and the global market becomes more stressed the larger it grows. We always need new solutions and answers to these stresses.
It can of course be argued that capitalism is to an extent, natural although not ideal to our intellectual justification of society, and while socialist systems attempt to rationalize economic and social well-being, it may be constructed rather than “natural”, and so may have unforeseen consequences.
First, it is ideal and fairly fundamental that government should only be the minimum necessary because its excess would mean that it is serving an unforeseen or non-existent problem, and because it cannot be immune from corruption. It should also be a balanced government. Limitation of power curbs corruption, and of course the government’s real purpose is to establish an uncorrupt “level playing field”. Capitalism really doesn’t belong in government by default anyway. Government is a service to the public and as our constitution established: “For the people.” Then why would a “public servant” be expected to be so profitable, although, now we actually expect that politicians are very wealthy people? Something as “natural” as corruption is something to never ignore. In any manner, corruption or some injustice is usually the culprit in which a socialistic system tries to remedy and so we must not shun the notion of socialistic systems implemented in the face of capitalism, but we must be vigilant in things we implement ourselves as a supplement to what is “natural” because of corruption of the architecture as well.
Socialism is often linked with Communism, but there are many aspects to the system that have their roots in traditional capitalism. If we are honest with ourselves and our allies, we must stop conflating the two. Capitalism is an economic, social, and cultural system.
The current economic outlook for the average citizen of the US and world is dire and in crisis. The desire of many Americans to continue paying for the current status quo is understandable. But capitalism’s checkered past, along with its recent utilitarian moral transgressions, it has not been able to provide for everyone, and the efficacy of this truth is widening and deepening.
Socialism is not about getting all the pie; it is about making a system that is more equitable than the system we currently have. It is about replacing the capitalist system of greed with a society of equity, sharing, and love. In it’s ideal sense it is a systemized approach embodying our intellectually civilized cooperation in the face of our primitive animalistic survival of the fittest attitude.
It is hard to say when someone is an advocate of socialism, when they are a supporter, or when they are simply a follower, but the history of socialism is a very rich one, in terms of how socialists have changed it (sometimes through their actions, often through not taking action), and the influence they have had. It is a great achievement to make progress on our current system, but progress is only possible if we do not simply take the path of least resistance.
But we must not be too quick to fall in love at first site. Socialism to many of a younger generation is a distant beauty that has not yet been heard up close. The enticement of a new love can very well be exciting, alluring, but also, too good to be true. All too often we hear of socialism’s accomplishments, or its evils elsewhere in times and places which often have little other than a narrative similarity to the entire United States here and now.
The main nerve that the word Socialism hits on is that instituting large government authoritarian power can be very dangerous because, like all authority, it is self feeding, which can have the opposite effect of balanced government. Capitalism can have the same effect. Once such a strong power is installed, it works to ensure its own survival and corruption ensues. This is why one of the best remedies for corruption is constant changeover of power [results may vary based on means] in which this helps to mitigate the cycle of self preservation before it is too deeply rooted. It also promotes agility within the system (oh, how we need this right now. Let’s not pretend this consolidation of power is unique to Socialism).
Socialism needs to be developed carefully and thoughtfully like the great experiment of democracy once was. A key tenet that was established, although not perfect, by the American forefathers was differentiation between Federal and State rights with the latter intent on having more autonomy (although, much like the way of our economy in this capitalist environment, power has consolidated at the top rather than the bottom). Risk should and can be mitigated in this sense through layers, in an upside pyramid power scheme, with broad but guiding governance coming from the federal level but coordination and implementation happening at the localized micro level, to avoid such overarching potential source of tyranny. That this has been, for the most part, a success in a country as diverse as the United States has some very important lessons. Most of all, it is clear that the American system of government was never intended to be a monolith of centralized authority. It is very possible that even a small subset of that system, for the benefit of individuals who make up its various branches and their governments, could evolve into something that is not only more robust, however imperfectly, but also more accountable, democratic, and accountable to its citizens.
But there are some issues which will not be practical at a more localized layer. One of the key issues that cracked this notion and turned it on its head was slavery. Another example would be the plastics pollution problem that we have right now. These are problems that have effect at a global level and must be solved at a global level. On the other hand, things like health care, although have drastic and pervasive results for so many, its major factors are localized as well, economically, culturally, geographically. In some instances, major umbrella factors can be defined at a national level but implemented at a local level. The key is to mitigate the risk due to tyranny as well as failure at such a high level, while having the advantage of a large subset of examples to learn from at a more localized level. And taking a note from capitalism, the competition rather than consolidation will drive innovation and growth. The opposite has been occurring for a long time in this capitalist environment. In a sense this strategy loosely resembles anti-trust law aimed at the federal government.
Human rights and ethical/moral issues can be governed at a national level but economic and benefit issues should be handled at state level. Another example: Abortion is a major issue that plays into this. Abortion and its legality can be an ethical issue and can be handled at a federal level. It should then be considered separate from religious issues and although that can nearly be impossible to completely separate, it will then at least be more encompassing of everyone and diverse beliefs rather than concentrated religious beliefs in certain states. It may be disagreed that this should instead be a state right but then we end up in turn endorsing unethical or immoral actions at a federal level by allowing it. (This can be related to the civil war and the issue of slavery). Issues like benefits and whether something is covered by Medicare can be handled at a state level in which it can be more agile to adjust and accommodate the local variations in need and utilization. In such a scenario, there is a better chance of success. We need to move beyond the status quo; to make the existing rules and protections more robust so that people actually get access to their rights where they need it. We need to move further away from a legal system that privileges wealthy, powerful and privileged individuals over and against the needs, and welfare of everybody; our societies are sicker, and our government is worse, because our “representatives” have been and continue to be out of touch, disconnected from everyday life, and unable to hear us.
Finally, in order to build an economy and society that works for the many not the few, we need to build an economic system that provides everyone with a decent standard of living, and one in which wealth and power are not concentrated in the hands of just a few. We can’t do this unless we take a stand on ending austerity, building sustainable jobs in the manufacturing, transport, energy and construction sectors, and ensuring that people feel a level of economic security in this increasingly precarious socio-economic environment. But we need to make sure that systems are built on the notion that the power and influence flows downward and is ubiquitous rather than a flow towards consolidation. Let’s be clear, it must be sequestered socialism and integrated. And this will be critically important in getting ahead of the curve in the strong socio-economy bending head wind of accelerating automation, artificial intelligence (which co-wrote some of this article), global pollution, climate change, population growth, cyber crime and cyber espionage, and the Internet of Things.
- *Disclaimer: Some of this article was generated through use of artificial intelligence. All italic text was begat by the A.I.