Right-Wing Propaganda At Its Least Subtle

Right-Wing Propaganda At Its Least Subtle

Tearing down a stupid Fox News article

Fox News, being the overtly bias media arm of the republican party that it is, has put out an article warning about the "dangers" of "socialism". It is designed as a guide for, put honestly, indoctrinating your kids into your conservative political ideology. I'm going to go over these supposed truth bombs Fox aims to drop on the topic of "socialism" and see whether they really have any actual truth to them (this is Fox News, so expectations should be riding pretty low in that department). It should first be pointed out that this article contains almost no sources to back up it's claims. If we are going to tap into the history of socialism to argue that it should be avoided, we should probably actually cite historical studies. Anyway, on with the show!

"Survey data show that most Americans have no clue what socialism is despite the fact that it's regularly discussed in the media"

No, it actually isn't. Aside from right-wing scare media like this and the few politicians such as Bernie Sanders who openly purport to be "socialist", socialism and communism in pretty much all major American institutions, including the media, is a taboo subject. During the period of McCarthyism and the red scare even the discussion of things such as socialism and communism were near completely purged from American political discourse. So much so that even talking about it produces articles like this one aimed at shouting you down. Right-wingers today love complaining about "political correctness", yet vigorously uphold it by deeming socialism and communism as politically incorrect.

"Socialism is the collective ownership and management of property. In a purely socialist society – an idea Karl Marx called “communism” – all or nearly all property is owned and managed by the collective."

Despite claiming that it will deliver an accurate definition of socialism this article gives us an intentionally vague definition. What does "property" mean? What does "collective ownership and management" mean? Who is "the collective"? The article fills in none of these blanks.

"Even their homes are owned collectively."

No they aren't. The article seems to use this vague notion of "property" to argue that socialism means the collective ownership of everything from your toilet, to your dish rag. Socialism is specifically concerned with the means of production, i.e. the tools, equipment, machinery, and technology used to produce for mass consumption. The means of production are the cranes, bulldozers, and trucks used to build houses for consumers, not the houses they live in themselves.

"In the case of democratic socialism, this means that people are forced to live according to the desires of the majority. In many situations, a small group of people is given power by the majority, and that group typically ends up becoming tyrannical, as we’ve seen in China, North Korea and Venezuela."

How can "the majority" give power to a small group of tyrants? Isn't the point of "tyranny" that iron fisted leaders take power for themselves and repress all dissent? It's also really telling how the article provides no other information about the political situation in three very different countries with very different social, political, and economic landscapes.

"For example, in a socialist country, vegetarians would be required to be part owners in a slaughterhouse."

OH NO! PEOPLE DECIDING WHAT TO PRODUCE TO MEET THEIR OWN NEEDS! WHAT A VIOLATION OF LIBERTY!!!! MR. GORBACHEV, TEAR DOWN THIS WALL!!!

"In socialism, individual “rights” are mere illusions. Even free-speech rights are limited if they are deemed “harmful” to the rest of society – which means these “rights” don’t really exist at all. This is why human rights abuses are so common in countries that try to enact socialism."

Once again, no actual information is provided regarding these human rights abuses. You are just suppose to take the article's word for it. Socialism is a society without class divisions and distinctions, meaning that coercive institutions that empower a group of rulers over everyone else, such as the state, are abolished. How exactly does free speech and individual rights get repressed without such institutions? Will "the collective" Thanos snap them away?

Under the assumption that "socialists" view the welfare state as the solution to our current problems the article makes this argument; "This conversation allows parents to make a very important moral argument: Charity is morally positive, because it means people are voluntarily helping those in need, but government welfare programs – however well-intentioned they might be – are not forms of charity. They require the government to use force and coercion. Those who don’t want to pay for a government program because they think it isn’t helpful – or perhaps believe it’s harmful – are forced to pay their taxes and participate anyway. Those who refuse can end up in prison." I don't see why I should care about the "liberty" and "voluntary" decisions of very rich individuals and institutions to not be taxed by the state in order to fund social programs for those with nowhere near that amount of economic power. These kinds of arguments ignore the class dimensions of capitalist economies, the "rights" of rich individuals and institutions who buy out politicians and make their fortunes off of the labor of those who work for them out of need for income are considered the same as the "rights" of people who are many thousands of dollars in dept, unemployed, and about to loose their house. Even barring this, socialists do not see the welfare state as the answer to modern problems. Socialists argue that the capitalist system's class structure is the fundamental problem and that the solution is abolishing it for democratic organization of society. As a side note, corporations pay very little effective tax as a result of their ability to offshore their finances, and this has left us with a reality of crumbling public infrastructure.

"Here’s a startling fact about socialism that every child should hear: During the past century, tens of millions of people have been killed, exiled or imprisoned by socialist and communist parties, and no country has ever successfully enacted a system that matches Marx’s vision for the world – a reality even the staunchest Marxist will admit."

Once again, no actual information is provided about these tens of millions of people killed, imprisoned, and exiled. It's true that "communist" regimes have killed millions of people, just like every other government in history. Pretty much every western nation was built up through killing millions of indigenous people. The American government killed millions of people in the recent Iraq and Afghanistan wars. As to the point about "Marx's vision for the world" never being enacted exactly, good, that's not what socialists want in the first place. Socialism is not "the exact vision held by Marx himself".

"Furthermore, history has repeatedly shown that government can’t fix many of our most complex societal issues, even when it socializes just one part of the economy. For example, since the ObamaCare health insurance exchanges first opened, insurance premiums have doubled and deductibles have skyrocketed."

What's conveniently left out here is that Obamacare got millions of people who wouldn't have it otherwise access to healthcare. It's also left out that every other advanced nation on the planet has a public healthcare system and they get much better healthcare results for much cheaper than we do.

This article is a sad excuse for Journalism, much like Fox in general. Right-wing media hacks trying to get parents to indoctrinate their children to ensure that the next generation won't get any ideas about radical change, and that the status quo of oppression and exploitation will continue. Parents, let your children come to their own conclusions. Even if you have the same asinine positions expressed in this article, it is not your right to beat your children over the head with them.

Bibliography:

How To Get Your Child To Just Say No To Socialism, Justin Haskins

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F2NNxyxc2Ao

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yEiv1fIhyE

Colonization and Decolonization, Zig Zag

Posted By

Ivysyn
Feb 8 2019 06:17

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  • Even if you have the same asinine positions expressed in this article, it is not your right to beat your children over the head with them.

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Comments

zugzwang
Feb 10 2019 17:09
Quote:
Justin Haskins (@JustinTHaskins) is the executive editor and a research fellow at The Heartland Institute and the editor-in-chief of StoppingSocialism.com. He's the author of "Socialism Is Evil: The Moral Case Against Marx's Radical Dream."

Think I came across his "book" on Amazon, complete shite obviously (as is Fox News with their "libertarian pundits", and every other American news channel). Doesn't seem to realize Marx and Engels never actually distinguished between socialism and communism either:

Justin Haskins wrote:
In this book, I've chosen to focus on Marx's socialism, which in its final stage is called 'communism' ...

Then again it doesn't surprise me someone speaking on the evils of socialism/communism, meaningless terms used by themselves really since they're associated with so many different thinkers, hasn't actually read a bit of "socialist/communist" literature.

Ivysyn
Feb 9 2019 14:51

Yea, these kind of mindless cold war-esk attacks on socialism and communism are basically the political equivalent of creationism. They aren't based in anything other than propaganda.

zugzwang
Feb 11 2019 16:48

I'm not sure what the sources are for, but I really wouldn't point to Richard Wolff/Democracy at Work (who basically promotes worker cooperatives and other social democratic goals) as sources for understanding Marx. Here's a passage from one of his essays in Capitalism's Crisis Deepens:

Richard Wolff wrote:
In socialism redefined along these lines, all the workers in an enterprise collectively and democratically make all the key economic decisions: what, how, and where to produce and what to do with the enterprise's surplus or profits. Such a socialism would advocate social ownership, planning and the democratization of enterprises, that is, their transition from capitalist to worker self-directed enterprises (WSDEs).

Wolff's association of worker cooperatives with "socialism" and goals of making capitalist enterprises more democratic and less hierarchical have nothing to do with Marx; it just reflects a poor understanding of Marx and all of his critique. I think this is also an issue with leftist YT content generally: there are hardly any that promote solid anti-capitalist politics.

Ivysyn
Feb 11 2019 08:03

zugzwang, I don't particularly care for leftist YouTube either, but Richard Wolff isn't a YouTube Leftist. He simply happens to have content that is hosted on YouTube. He's an actual economist who has written long books on these topics. I have my disagreements with him, for example I reject his "democracy at work" theory of using worker cooperatives to obtain socialism and abolish capitalism. I don't see how that means I can't reference him ever. He's pretty knowledgeable on socialist history, and economic theory, he just happens to have prescriptive politics that don't make a lot of sense. I'm also not sure where the "understanding Marx" thing comes from. I was talking, in this article, generally about socialism, since that is what the Fox News article I was addressing was talking about. The focal point was not what Marx did and did not think.

zugzwang
Feb 11 2019 16:56
Ivysyn wrote:
zugzwang, I don't particularly care for leftist YouTube either, but Richard Wolff isn't a YouTube Leftist. He simply happens to have content that is hosted on YouTube. He's an actual economist who has written long books on these topics.

I don't think being an academic means you're above everyone else or can't hold questionable views, take Chomsky for example. Wolff just has higher production quality in his videos. He's still a YT producer of leftist content as far as I'm concerned. I've actually read his Capitalism's Crisis Deepens and followed him on YT for a short while (where he regularly praised Sanders and Corbyn if I remember); a lot of what he says is either over-simplified or simply wrong (I can dig up more examples if you want). Most of the essays in Capitalism's Crisis Deepens that aren't on American economic history, where he mostly bangs on about taxes and bemoans the distribution of wealth to the 1% (although some of the info and statistics are useful), are just variations of him promoting WSDEs and calling that a "new type of socialism" as distinct from the "traditional socialism tried in Russia".

Quote:
I'm also not sure where the "understanding Marx" thing comes from. I was talking, in this article, generally about socialism, since that is what the Fox News article I was addressing was talking about. The focal point was not what Marx did and did not think.

What are the two Wolff links for? The second one's entitled "Understanding Marxism and Socialism with Richard Wolff".

Agent of the In...
Feb 12 2019 18:13
zugzwang wrote:
Wolff's association of worker cooperatives with "socialism" and goals of making capitalist enterprises more democratic and less hierarchical have nothing to do with Marx; it just reflects a poor understanding of Marx and all of his critique. I think this is also an issue with leftist YT content generally: there are hardly any that promote solid anti-capitalist politics.

I think there's too many socialists who define socialism simply as workers controlling the means of production. It's always disappointing to come across that kind of definition in online conversations. It just doesn't come close to capturing the radical vision of a future free society I think should be attached to that term. But of course it depends on who you are talking to. I expect that from the kind of "socialist" who supports workers' control within market capitalism, even though they may not recognise it as such. I expect more from anarchists, although some of them too are inadequate in this department.

Richard Wolff is one of those popular leftists who has sort of become a gateway to more radical politics, like Noam Chomsky. I can never really understand how he or other market "socialists" sees workers' cooperatives competing in a market economy as not capitalist. I mean, that's all they want and they want to identify that with socialism. And it's a real mystery as to what kind of analysis of capitalism they have if that is all they can come up with, especially after so many years of studying and writing about capitalism as an economist.

zugzwang
Feb 13 2019 18:58
Agent of the International wrote:
Richard Wolff is one of those popular leftists who has sort of become a gateway to more radical politics, like Noam Chomsky. I can never really understand how he or other market "socialists" sees workers' cooperatives competing in a market economy as not capitalist. I mean, that's all they want and they want to identify that with socialism. And it's a real mystery as to what kind of analysis of capitalism they have if that is all they can come up with, especially after so many years of studying and writing about capitalism as an economist.

That would be a strange end-goal coming from someone who's studied Marx. It's been a year or so since I've read Wolff and I'm not sure if that's really what he wants or if it's just some step toward a communist system (not sure if he also distinguishes between "socialism" and "communism" as different stages) where commodity production is replaced by just use-value production. I don't know why someone who's studied Marx regards the organization of a business as the biggest issue. A WSDE would still have to survive as a business which means they'd be subjected to the same pressures as any other capitalist enterprise, irrespective of how un-hierarchical they might be, unless they want to be steamrolled by the competition.