En­light­ened so­cial­ism

Austin American-Statesman - - OPINION -

Re: July 20 com­men­tary “Cap­i­tal­iz­ing on so­cial­ism’s bad name.”

Noth­ing like a bit of utopian so­cial­ism to start your day. Seems like Je­sus was even closer to so­cial­ist thought than en­light­ened thinkers have told us. Of course, even the most “gen­tle” real-life so­cial­ists, if they be­come prac­ti­tion­ers of their gospel, find they must dirty their hands with the “noble” task of re­dis­tribut­ing pri­vate prop­erty and re­shap­ing so­cial as­sump­tions about what is right and wrong.

I also learned that so­cial­ists and their fel­low trav­el­ers (who seek noth­ing more than “in­formed dis­cus­sions” on crit­i­cal is­sues) are be­ing vil­i­fied by re­ac­tionar­ies who scheme to as­so­ci­ate so­cial­ism with dis­cred­ited ide­olo­gies in the pub­lic fo­rum. It is en­cour­ag­ing to know that real so­cial­ists don’t re­sort to this kind of blind, knee-jerk re­ac­tion. I feel en­light­ened and up­lifted.

Jeff Townsend


Thomas G. Palaima says the term so­cial­ist is a cal­cu­lated smear and it doesn’t mat­ter any­way be­cause so­cial­ists are such swell peo­ple. His req­ui­site wacky di­gres­sion — some­thing about UT in 1942 — wastes pre­cious col­umn space that could have dealt with one of the many blind­ingly ob­vi­ous ques­tions at hand, such as “Is so­cial­ism good or bad?” and “How ac­cu­rately does it de­scribe the pres­i­dent?”

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama and the Demo­cratic lead­ers in Congress clearly ad­mire the so­cial Democrats of Europe and want to move us in that di­rec­tion, to the point that many of the pres­i­dent’s more hon­est sup­port­ers have de­scribed him ap­prov­ingly as a so­cial­ist.

Fi­nally, I have no doubt that Wil­liam Mor­ris or his fans ex­hibit the purest of mo­tives. The point (which an aca­demic of Palaima’s stand­ing shouldn’t pre­tend not to know) is that so­cial­ism in any fla­vor has un­in­tended neg­a­tive con­se­quences that we want to avoid.

Robert Ry­land


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