General Question

whiteliondreams's avatar

Is the United States becoming socialist?

Asked by whiteliondreams (1717points) June 13th, 2012

With numerous social programs available, is the US becoming more socialist? If so, how? If not, why?
What can be done to change the course if it is becoming socialist? If you are okay with it becoming socialist, what more would you expect to see in order to aid the economy?
What would you do to reduce the socialist notion and improve the economy without social programs?

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55 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Socialism is common ownership and democratic administration of the means of production and distribution by the community.
Nothing even close is happening in the US, not in the past, not now, and not in the forseeable future.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Yes, very very socialist and very gay. No, it is not becoming socialist, it’s more and more of a corporotacracy and ‘businessthink’ is ruining many things (education, healthcare) that should not be on the market. Also there is nothing wrong with socialism unless the state in question is corrupt. And there is nothing wrong with social programs, there is a reason they’re in place. The only people who think they don’t benefit from social programs are ones whose privilege is made seamless by the help of others to such an extent that they think they deserve what they have and that they ‘got there through my hard work.’

YARNLADY's avatar

I wish, but no, it’s all just politician talk.

syz's avatar

Have you been watching Fox (ahem) News?

flutherother's avatar

No, if it moves any further right it will fall over the edge.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes. In a national socialist party sort of way…

bookish1's avatar

As long as I am obliged to stay in my present job to have health insurance, and even with that, I pay over $200 a month for medications without which I would die in a week, I am inclined to say no.

tranquilsea's avatar

I live in Canada and we’ve had social programmes in place since the Great Depression. The U.S. is far, far away from where we are on the social plane. Believe me living in a socialist society is not the evil it is purported to be in the media.

One of the best lines I’ve heard: It’s socialism for the corporations and capitalism for the rest of us.

bookish1's avatar

@tranquilsea : Corporations are people too, don’t forget >_> Thus spake our venerable Supreme Court in the gravest judicial mistake I have seen in my lifetime.

tranquilsea's avatar

@bookish1 Oh, I know that ruling. But until I can lock one up in prison then I’m going to politely disagree.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Let’s see…

It was a Monarchy for a while when they elected a not-so-bright son of a former president.
It was a corrupt dictatorship for a while when it permitted giving billions of dollars of the commoners’ money to the president’s friends and top execs upon retirement from Exxon Mobil (CEO $400M), Home Depot (CEO $400M….), etc.
It was Socialist when it started giving taxpayer funds to the unemployed, the sick, the tired, the poor.
It was Capitalist when It made billionaires out of Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others who invented products we never knew we needed.
It was Communist when it gave favors and lucrative oil and gas deals to party members.
It is being Socialist when it writes Social Security checks and pays for the millions on disability
It will be Socialist when Universal health care is finally approved and the fully 35% of health care expenses go to actual health care rather than insurance companies and their top dogs. Excellus Blue Cross CEO pay increased 171% from last year to $5.8M. No wonder they oppose it.

With all the warts, there are still more people wanting to immigrate here than emigrate.

wundayatta's avatar

Not a chance in hell! More’s the pity.

It is not becoming socialist because of the right wing nature of the country. People think socialism means taking away freedom. So they oppose it, and in the process, they shoot themselves in the foot. They do not believe in the power of the collective, or in using that power to make things better for all of us. So we remain mired in an economy that is making the rich richer and the poor poorer, instead of building an economy that makes things better for everyone.

tom_g's avatar

Unfortunately not.

(Unless by socialist, you mean “more likely to use social networks, like Facebook”.)

AstroChuck's avatar

I wish. Truth is many social programs that have been going strong in this country are being cut. I’d say the US is heading more towards fascism.

whiteliondreams's avatar

Thanks everyone. This is good stuff and it’s helping me learn a little more about what Americans feel about the economy today. I cannot really say much because I don’t know what to say. I ask these questions in hopes that you all can educate me to learn what it is I need to know in order to be knowledgable. I stand nowhere politically.

LostInParadise's avatar

The economist Robert Reich keeps trying to explain that our problem is that we are becoming less socialist. This puts it about as simply as it can possibly be put.

SuperMouse's avatar

According to, socialism is defined as: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.

If the Occupy Wall Street movement has brought anything to light, it is the reality that The One Percent is real and “controls 43%” of our nation’s wealth – not a hallmark of a socialist society.

Last month we learned that our family lost about half of our monthly income for the foreseeable future – this while we already live well below the poverty level for a family our size. How much help from the government do we qualify for at this point? None. Not a hallmark of a socialist society.

So no, I do not think the United States is socialist or that it is becoming more socialist. I think the dirty little secret is that while Fox News and others bellow about how Obama is sending our country straight to hell with his socialistic policies, the US moves further and further to the right. >>Shudder<<

@LostinParadise, Robert Reich is one of my heroes.

Blackberry's avatar

If you look up the definition, the answer is ostensibly no. If you use the common sense angle, one can see how congress fights very adamantly against something as simple as an improved healthcare system, so what makes anyone think our elected leaders would just allow socialism?

It’s never going to happen.

GracieT's avatar

One could dream…..

janbb's avatar

God no!

Adagio's avatar

From where I sit on the other side of the world, everything I hear on the radio about the US suggests anything but…

ETpro's avatar

@whiteliondreams Look up Socialism in the dictionary and then think about who owns what in the US. Do most Americans get a government paycheck, or one from a private enterprise? Do those paychecks all come from a Government bank, or are they from banks on Wall Street and Main Street? Given the actual definition of socialism, you can answer your own question.

jerv's avatar

/three-handed facepalm

Not just “Hell no!!!!”, but, “What the fuck are you smoking that would even allow to to think that?”!

See, the problems in the economy are not related to Socialism except insofar as we are trying so hard to distance ourselves from Socialism that we are faced with the choice of either amending our ways or becoming a Third World nation.

Now, we have to have social programs (and the associated government spending, and thus taxes) in order to prevent becoming like the poorer parts of Africa, yet the people who claim that we are turning Socialist don’t realize that they are actually causing their own pain.

If yuo want to reduce the social programs, then you will have to return to the days when we were truly prosperous. CEOs will only earn 30–50 times what the average worker for that company makes (which may still be enough to become a millionaire). The money that we pay for healthcare will go to medical care instead of profit. The economic gains made by increased production will go to all that worked hard to make those increased profits instead of all of the gains going to the top while the rest of us fall behind inflation.

Most importantly, I would declare the Far Right to be a terrorist organization. Aside from outright violence (usually), they use many of the same tactics as official terrorist organizations in order to spread fear, and they have done more to destroy America than Osama bin Laden ever dreamed was even possible.

I would also increase education at least enough that people knew what “Socialism” actually meant.

AngryWhiteMale's avatar

Socialist? You jest. It’s becoming a police state, a closed, authoritarian society. Look at some of the South American nations of recent history to get an idea of where we’re headed. Vastly unequal economically with government repression of constitutional principles.

Roby's avatar

You bet…give the nitwet we have in office four more years and it full blown.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@jerv You are on point on why I asked this question. Thank you for answering and I hope to see more of your posts concerning the economy and what a “prosperous” economy could look like.

wundayatta's avatar

I have found that people who are against socialism tend to be fairly ignorant. Often they don’t know how to spell. They tend to write rather short comments and make wild, unsupported claims. I think it is safe to say that you could judge an ideology by the company it keeps.

tranquilsea's avatar

@wundayatta “I think it is safe to say that you could judge an ideology by the company it keeps.” lol. You hit the nail on the head.

I wish people would educate themselves about all the various ways countries have been led/ruled. Study the history of social programmes and why they came into existence to begin with.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@tranquilsea Can you please send me a link or a term I can use to research? Thanks!

tranquilsea's avatar

@whiteliondreams When I begin researching anything I start with Wikepedia and move out and on from there.

Search terms like “social reform”, “social reformers”, “widow’s pensions” and “social contract”.

In politics search, “the history of government”, “monarchies”, “dictatorships”, “democracies”. You can, and should, team those terms with specific countries and read the history of their governance.

Look up change makers like John Locke, Voltaire, Rousseau, etc.

Do some research on the history of unions and why they came about.

Good for you for being willing to research.

Paradox25's avatar

This sounds like more right wing propaganda. Right wingers generally like to attack social market economies as being ‘socialist and an enemy of freedom’, yawn. Actually, if anything, we have been becoming more and more a corporatist nation, more in line with Mussolini’s version of facism, not socialism. Damn even Ron Paul, the champion of the free market, acknowledges this.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@tranquilsea I am taking online college courses and have their library at my disposal. Those are excellent key words I can use. Thank you.

tranquilsea's avatar

@whiteliondreams Using those key words should lead you to hundreds of other angles to research. I love researching all the players in any one movement and reading everything I can to get a good sense of where their stances came from.

Happy hunting.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@Paradox25 I see that everyone is under that impression that we are becoming Capitalist, but WE are not becoming capitalist. The bourgeoisie remain in lead with the term and politicians follow suit. The American political system is not designed to protect the little people, it is designed to protect businesses and corporations. The very meat and potatoes of the country. So, the reason I asked about socialism is because of the strategy many businesses are implementing in order to keep the proletariat happy. So yes, we are socialist because the government is maneuvering the tools (laws) to “win” (as wealthy people put it).

Paradox25's avatar

@whiteliondreams Nobody in this thread is arguing that we have not done away with neoliberal economic policies. I think that most of the people in this thread are are trying to counter the false notion that we (the U.S) are becoming ‘socialist’. There are other alternatives to free market capitalism besides socialism. Even the most ‘socialist’ European nations aren’t even socialist. You should rephrase your question “Is the United States becoming more corporatist”.

whiteliondreams's avatar

The United States is corporatist. More corporatist would insinuate that I care about the direction in which business policies are heading. However, I opened this post in hopes that I can be further educated on the things I am uncertain of. In fact, I am far from the socialist ideology as I can be. I am more libertarian if anything.

Strauss's avatar

@whiteliondreams I would concur with @ETpro‘s assessment as far as who owns resources.The US is not a socialist society or government by any means. The ideal for socialism, or “small c” communism is the collective. Each member of the collective is equal owner, and equally responsible with and to each other member for the needs and deeds of the collective. In the US it is not the government that owns and directs resources, other than a few “safety net” programs and military and veterans’ healthcare. I think the US is in danger of moving in a fascist corporatist direction. Government services, from military to corrections, to even elections (voting machines with proprietary software) are being outsourced, maybe to the lowest bidder, but usually to the highest campaign contributor. State governments are using the “vulture capital” model and taking over towns and cities that cannot meet financial obligations are having “financial managers” assigned to them by the state.

It was a mere 70-some years ago that then vice-president Henry Wallace warned us of the threat of fascism. Here is an excerpt from an opinion piece he wrote:

“They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the constitution. They demand free enterprise, but are the spokesmen for monopoly and vested interest…”
…“The American fascists are most easily recognized by their deliberate perversion of truth and fact. Their newspapers and propaganda carefully cultivate every fissure of disunity, every crack in the common front against fascism. They use every opportunity to impugn democracy.”

jerv's avatar

@whiteliondreams Thanks.

The thing is, how do we define “prosperous”? Some feel that we are prosperous so long as corporations are reporting record profits. Others look at how much money the elite have, or the sum total of all wealth without regard for it’s distribution; so long as 100% of the people have more money than they used to, it doesn’t matter that 80% of them have less and 20% cannot even afford to live.

And there are plenty of math tricks you can use to massage the numbers. Take 1 millionaire and 19 people who have nothing, and the average wealth there is still $50,000 which looks respectable. Even medians can be fudged a bit, especially if you include things like government aid as income.

But when faced with a problem, many people seem to believe that doing more of what caused the problem will somehow solve the problem. Car is making a funny noise because you didn’t bother changing the oil? Come up with some excuse to keep on ignoring the oil change, and then blame the carmaker for making an inferior car when the engine blows.

We use the same attitude in government. Too much government spending? Cut taxes so that people have more money, cut government programs to keep the government from going bankrupt due to lower taxes, ignore the fact that there are more people that require government aid because employers are cutting headcount, cutting benefits (both wages and insurance) for non-executives, and then complain that government should not be allowed to make businesses pay for the economic harm they are causing.

What many of these anti-Socialists fail to realize is the consequences and implications of their actions. If the average person sees no rewards for their hard work, then how can one say that higher taxes remove the incentive to succeed? Seems to me that if you are that anti-tax, you should strive to earn as little as possible. I would rather have 70% of $100k than 100% of $60k, but that is because (unlike many anti-Socialists) I know math. And figure, that $30k in taxes would fix potholes, pay policemen, and do other things that improve my quality of life that would require me to pay directly out of pocket for if not for government.

The irony is that those who complain most about government control seek to have government criminalize things like homosexuality, marijuana, and pornography at taxpayer expense. If you feel government is too expensive and intrusive, then why pay so much to expand their power and make them more intrusive? And on the pornography front, look at how much money we would lose if that industry went away. As of 2005/6. the adult entertainment industry had around $13 Billion in revenue. Even conservative estimates for the present place it about on par with Major League Baseball, so it’s loss would be a non-trivial blow to the economy. (We won’t even get into the boom in Black Market activity that would result.)

It seems to me that the route to prosperity involves knowing math, studying history to see what has failed badly in the past, and, above all, not being hypocritical enough to undermine your own credibility. In other words, we could solve many of our problems if we didn’t allow stupid people to rule.

However, recent trends in politics indicate that we want idiots in power, so I weep for our future. Even worse, if we don’t continue this current trend towards Christian Corporatism, we will likely go too far the other way by over-correcting for the errors of the last few decades.

mattbrowne's avatar

Are victims of ultra-conservative propaganda becoming brainwashed? It does seem that way. Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many questions about American becoming socialist. Show me one country on Earth that is more capitalist than the US.

mattbrowne's avatar

A true capitalist let’s the market decide on foreign exchange rates.

ragingloli's avatar

A true capitalist also prevents its workers from collective bargaining, and pays and treats them like dirt.

whiteliondreams's avatar

If that’s the case, how do you explain all the countries that treat their workers like dirt and they themselves can barely afford to pay their workers? Is that a true capitalist or simply an organization or individual with poor people skills or a poor HR rep?

ETpro's avatar

@ragingloli While China is slowly introducing some free market reforms, you know very well that is it a communist state. The government still owns most enterprises and the financial system. They don’t even allow their currency to be traded on world financial markets.

ragingloli's avatar

They are state capitalist (as in, the state acting like a single large corporation), not communist.
Have they abolished wage labour? (and by extension done away with currency altogether)
Have they dismantled the state?
Do they have free access to goods of consumption?
Do the workers and employees decide directly or even indirectly what is produced and how it is distributed?
The answer to all those is “no”. China does not even qualify as socialist, let alone communist.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@ragingloli By free access, do you mean any time they wish or an allotment? and by deciding directly or indirectly on what is produced or distributed, do you mean a choice to work and live or a choice to not work and forage? Also, by not Communist, do you mean because they do not satisfy all the requirements, some of the requirements, or none of the requirements? And what are these requirements according to the West? Are the requirements correct according to Americans and wrong according to Asians? Are you absolute in determining the socioeconomic qualifications of China as opposed to America? If the situation with China is so serious and bothersome for you, why are your questions so dismissive?

ragingloli's avatar

By free access I mean unrestricted and free of charge.
By deciding what to produce and how to distribute I mean deciding, in an egalitarian and democratic way, what the products are, what their attributes are, what materials to use, what processes to use to manufacture them, how much to manufacture and on which way, in which shops in what regions the products will be made available to the public.

“Not communist”, because China fulfills none of the core attributes of communism, or socialism.
It is like calling a fruit that does not look like an apple, does not taste like an apple, does not have the internal structure of an apple and does not have any genetic similarity to apples, an apple.
The west considers the criteria for socialism and communism, government and state ownership and control over the economy.
And yes, these western criteria are incorrect. They stem from the cold war when state capitalist dictatorships called themselves socialist/communist. It was pure propaganda with no relation to reality.
I have to remind you that these dictatorships also called themselves democratic republics, which was just as much a lie as calling themselves socialist/communist.

whiteliondreams's avatar

@ragingloli Thank you. Can you explain to me how the United States is a republic? I think people can explain things better when it’s dumbed-down a bit. Also, how influential are the people of the United States under a democratic government when it seems as though the people have no political power? It is as if the government is in full control with internal and external affairs. Should we, citizens, be concerned?

Brian1946's avatar


“Do the workers and employees decide directly or even indirectly what is produced and how it is distributed?”

Perhaps you’ve already implied the following in the above quote, but if not, I will add that Marx advocated the ultimate ownership of the means of production by the workers, not the state.

Strauss's avatar

@whiteliondreams The United States is a republic because it’s governing bodies are comprised of elected representatives.

Strauss's avatar

To answer the rest of that question—We as citizens should always be concerned about how the government is being run. One of my biggest concerns is the amount of money needed to run an effective election campaign. The recent Citizens United decision has allowed money to be spent with no accountability and no way to know who really is responsible for the message.

ETpro's avatar

@ragingloli The Wikipedia article on the Chinese Economy appears to be well researched and footnoted. It states, “The economy is dominated by large, profitable, state owned enterprises, but private enterprises also play a major role in the economy. State-owned enterprises are a major source of profit and power for members of the Communist Party of China and their families and are favored by the government.”

China is the second largest economy in the world behind the US, but it is the 90th in the world in per capita income. Since the Communist Party owns and directs so much of the nation’s industrial base, it is still quite consistent to agree with the party’s self definition. China is still Communist.

ragingloli's avatar

great work ignoring every single criterium I listed that needs to be fulfilled to qualify as communist, and that china does not fulfill.

ETpro's avatar

@ragingloli I don’t see where you listed any such laundry list except in the more nebulous of terms. Perhaps China doesn’t live up to the philosophy of Marxist and Leninist purity; but what communist state ever has? To claim that their falling short of that makes them capitalist is absurd. By that standard, North Korea is a capitalist state as well.

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