I found this article, AFSCME Official Endorses Socialism After Union Backed Dean and it reminded me that I owe Spike Magazine's blog Splinters and article on Socialism.
Let's start off with the comments:
"The first thing we have to do is remind ourselves that we are fighting for socialism," said District Council 1707 President Brenda Stokeley of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME).
Stokeley's remarks were made during the Workers World Party's national conference in New York on Dec. 6 and 7. The conference was entitled, "Reviving the Worldwide Struggle for Socialism." First of all, there are three types of social structure for this discussion: Capitalist, Socialist and Communist.
Capitalist is the one most free. You are allowed to start whatever business you want (within some very wide parameters) and go for it until you succeed or go broke. You are allowed to go where and when you want, and it is the government that is limited in their powers rather than you.
Communist is best described as governmentless. After all of the people have been properly and completely indoctrinated, the government would just "fade away" and be no more. Everybody would be equal and everybody would work for the common good.
Now let's talk about exactly who is/was Socialist.
Socialist can be best described as either "hard" or "soft." Countries such as the UK, France, Germany, et.al. are best described as soft socialists.
Soft Socialist societies still have a large contingent of capitalistic entrepreneurship, while the government is heavily invested in social programs and controls major industries. Freedoms exist, but at the pleasure of the government. In the UK, the press is nominally free, but can be gagged at the governments leisure if "official secrets" comes out.
Now the hard socialists, they are another ball of wax. The former Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba. No freedoms, the State controls everything, constant indoctrination, "re-education" camps for those who don't conform, the list goes on and on. Imagine having to get permission from the State to leave the county where you live. Imagine the only freedom of speech you have is what the government tells you what to say. If you were accused of a crime, you had to prove your innocence. It's very hard to prove a negative under those conditions.
Everything is controlled by the State. Where you work, how much you get paid, where you live, etc. And we all know how well this system works. In the Soviet Union, the small privatized plots for the farmers outperformed the collective farms. You had to stand in three lines to buy anything. Stand in line to see what is for sale, stand in another line to get a ticket for it, and hopefully you get what it is you were looking for in the third line. Military units had a Zamploit or political officer to make sure the troops were properly indoctrinated and they had the power to overturn a commanders decisions if they went against the party interests.
Socialism works somewhat in China because of their culture. The Chinese have pigeonholed everybody for thousands of years. You stayed where you were, you do what you're told and you don't complain. Even so, China is beginning to see Capitalistic overtones. It will be a long time, however, before those who control China give up the reins of power. Constant indoctrination of the people still goes on, and dissent is still ruthlessly crushed as Tienanmen Square plainly showed.
People no matter where they are have pretty good BS detectors. When they live in squalor and under a ruthless government, there comes a point where people realize that they are being told a crock of shit, however they also see the point of the gun being pointed at them if they aren't sufficiently enthusiastic enough about being in a workers paradise. Why do you think people from these countries defect every chance they get? Why do you think dozens died trying to cross the Berlin Wall? Why do you think it was put up in the first place? It certainly wasn't to keep us out.
Cuba and South Korea are hard Socialist dictatorships. You can tell that it's a dictatorship because there is one guy in power and that is all that matters. Unless the succession is to a son, there is no "line of succession." Nobody is given enough power to threaten the dictator, there is no orderly transfer of power upon his death.
The situation in North Korea can be summed up in one word: Cannibalism. Some workers paradise that is.
Cuba depends on trade with Europe, because it can't survive on its own. It was being heavily subsidized by the Soviet Union, but that came to a halt when the SU collapsed. They still have thousands of people a year fleeing from this 'paradise,' only to die on the way or be executed upon their return. Dissidents are routinely jailed for years or executed if they get too loud.
And this is the kind of world Ms. Brenda Stokeley wants us to live in. Never forget that. There is no such thing as a benign government, even our own. It takes the power of the people to keep the government in check, not the other way around.