Socialism in America- Definition of Socialism and Socialists in Schools

At a recent dinner I had an interesting conversation with an American schoolteacher about economics and politics and eventually discovered that she was a socialist. Since I wanted everyone to enjoy the dinner, I didn’t ask her more questions to find out the depth of her socialism knowledge or if she understood the effects socialist principles have on a nation. Most people in America, like the schoolteacher, believe in at least a few socialist ideas. In my conversation though most of these people have not thoroughly thought out their positions and why they support them. In this article, I will discuss the definition of socialism, the history of socialism and how various socialist principles have been embedded in the American government. I will end the article with a somewhat controversial proposition.

Definition of Socialism– Socialism is the mix of economic and political theories for organizing society that advocates collective ownership and management of the means of production, distribution of services and goods, as well as dividing everything equally. Socialist theories stand in opposition to ideas of free markets, private ownership, and individual responsibility. In summary, socialists prefer very large and powerful governments (China, the old Soviet Union, Cuba, and France to some extent). Capitalists prefer small & limited governments (United States, Australia).

History of Socialism– Socialism rose up in the early 1800’s in response to some of the excesses of the industrial revolution. Robert Owens, Charles Fourier, Louis Blanc and other hated the inequality and poverty they saw in their countries and advocated changing the government to distribute the newfound wealth more equitably. Of course, before the industrial revolution EVERYONE was in poverty and though a few people had been left behind, the industrial revolution would not have happened without Capitalism and there would be no wealth to spread. Anyways, by 1847 Socialism had gained a lot of momentum and Frederick Engels began really pushing it. Around this time, socialist governments were installed in France and in Germany. Karl Marx wrote the seminal book on Socialism in 1848, “The Communist Manifesto”. The Communist Manifesto’s principles have been used as the bedrock for the establishment of most socialist societies that came later. Karl Marx believed that all of history could be explained by a series of class struggles between the bourgeoisie (rich & powerful) and the proleteriat (poor huddled masses). Marx advocated the overthrow of capitalist governments by a “Communist Party”, and these overthrows actually took place in Russia, China, Vietnam and Cuba. The Communist Revolutions that took place in each of these countries started out being fairly ideologically pure, but all of them quickly morphed into a new form of oppression: Totalitarianism. The Soviet Union (now Russia) collapsed almost two decades ago, but the aftereffects have shattered the country and now it is run by former KGB men who are essentially kings that rule with an iron fist. China is slowly morphing to a half-breed between socialism and capitalism, while still regularly crushing human rights. Cuba’s revolution was led by Fidel Castro who after achieving victory, quickly converted the socialist government to a plain vanilla dictatorship. Pure Socialism as an economic and political system simply does not work and usually totalitarian governments rise to fill the power void (Stalin over Lenin, Castro taking over Cuba and Chairman Mao in China).

Fundamental Problems with Socialism- Why has socialism failed so miserably in all the countries it has been tried? Why haven’t the passionate believers in socialism been able to make it work as a government? To understand why socialism has failed in such a massively tragic way in so many countries, you must think logically and use your basic common sense. What is socialism in its most basic form?- Socialism is where EVERYONE is employed by the government, works for the government and is paid by the government. Unfortunately, governments in every form in every country throughout history have been ridiculed for being inefficient bureacracies. The bigger a government gets the more opportunities for inefficiency are created. Why is this? It’s because human beings are genetically programmed to be selfish and take care of themselves and their families before strangers. Think about it: if I gave you a thousand dollars, would you split it equally amongst all your friends or would you keep it and buy yourself something or save it? Obviously you keep it for yourself. People prefer to take care of their own needs first. In a socialist government, someone must have power over other people in order to spread goods and services to everyone. This is where corruption enters the picture- the people in power are inevitably tempted to give themselves a little extra… then a little more. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. All of the other people see this and become disillusioned with their government and start slacking off at work and taking what they can get too. Eventually, you wind up with an entirely rotten country that falls to pieces (Soviet Union). In the process, tens of millions of people are slaughtered (up to 60 million under Stalin and up to 43 million under Chairman Mao’s “Great Leap Forward”- which reminds me of the New Deal lol).

The other factor that socialism ignores is the basic principle you read about in every Psych 101 text ever written: Rewards and Punishments. Socialism removes the rewards for working hard and instead installs punishments. Why would you work harder when no matter how hard you work, you still get your same loaf of bread and bottle of water? Why would you put in 80 hour weeks when there is no mansion in the suburbs or Lexus in the driveway or trophy wife to shoot for? Instead of having these capitalist rewards for working hard, you are punished because if you work harder than the people around you, you are seen as trying to stick out and not be absolutely equal with everyone else. Nails that stick out get hammered.

Socialist Countries and Totalitarianism- Socialism is not just a cute idea for hippies, lazy people and those who think it sounds “nice”. Capitalist countries that implement socialist ideas inevitably begin a downward spiral through socialism and into totalitarianism. America has been in this slowly accelerating death spiral since the late 19th century and is picking up speed now with all of the socialistic bailouts of poorly run companies (AIG, Fannie Mae, Big 3 auto companies, etc). You are probably thinking to yourself that I’m exagerrating and things aren’t that bad… but you’re wrong. Unless a powerful politician who believes in the principles America was founded on we are going to be led astray by popular politicians like Barack Obama. I think Barack Obama is a genuinely great guy and that he is very smart and has America’s best interests at heart… but he’s the type of guy who tries to solve all the problems of a government himself. Anyone who tries to do that ends up having to take more and more freedoms away from the people in order to try to save them. If it wasn’t for World War 2, FDR would’ve continued to amass power until America was a full on communist country. Fortunately after WW2, Truman and others during the late 1940’s and 1950’s handed much of that power back to Americans. Other countries have not been so fortunate and these countries citizens have seen their freedom, culture, religion, individuality and even their very lives robbed from them by their totalitarian government. Chairman Mao in China thought he was going to do all of the Chinese people a favor with his “Great Leap Forward”, but he ended up ruining his countries agriculture and industry and tens of millions of people starved to death and millions more were murdered for opposing his policies. This is why it is vitally important to stand up against the slow infiltration of socialism into American government and society.

Socialism in Education- Education for individuals under the age of 18 in America is under the control of the government. Ever wondered why public schools are constantly failing and it always seems like there is a “crisis in American education”? It’s because much of the American education system, especially for minors, is government controlled. In 1840, before the advent of public education, the United States had a literacy rate of 97%- which was one of the highest rates in the world at the time. After the Civil War, the government stepped in and established the public education system in order to try to help recently freed African American slaves. By 1900 all children up to the age of 14 were required to attend school. Private schools were still pretty dominant and teacher’s worked hard to ensure that their students understood the material they needed to learn. Unfortunately, in today’s public schools it is almost impossible to fire incompetent teachers and equally difficult for teachers to try to improve on their curriculums. Public education sounds like a great idea in theory, but let’s think about it further. I agree with mandatory education laws so that parents can’t abuse their children and everyone gets a fair start, but I think that schooling should be done through private and charter schools instead of being forced into the public school system. Each student should have freedom of choice in which school to attend (just like college), and each student should receive a set amount from the government that follows him to whatever school he wants to go to. The system I am proposing isn’t perfectly capitalistic, but it adjusts to make sure that every kid has a fair shot at a good education.

Our current system encourages our teachers to preach socialist principles to our children (the teachers get pay raises from voters and if they teach socialist propaganda to students they are more likely to get more money). We must stop the government from indoctrinating our youth with socialist propaganda. Education (at least till age 14) should be free & mandatory for all, but in order to save America’s future, public schools should be abolished and replaced with a system of private & charter schools.

Published by

Joel Gross

Joel Gross is the CEO of Coalition Technologies.

37 thoughts on “Socialism in America- Definition of Socialism and Socialists in Schools”

  1. While entertaining, Joel’s take on Socialism is radically oversimplified and flawed. Most notably he repeatedly confuses the tenets of modern Socialism with those of Communism and Totalitarianism.

    For a more detailed and accurate description of the ideology of modern Socialism I recommend:

    Wikipedia isn’t perfect but it’s better than this.

    Socialists are not Communists. They do not advocate turning over all wealth and industry to the government, they advocate that government regulations be imposed on the markets and industries in order to promote an over-all higher quality of life. Many Socialist ideas are already used to positive effect in the world today. Anti-trust law is a Socialist measure that was implemented by governments when it became obvious that unchecked markets resulted in monopolies and massive wealth gaps. If you favor anti-trust law, you are a little bit of a socialist.

    The debate is not over whether or not markets and industries should be regulated, the debate is over which ones need regulation, and how heavy that regulation should be. Oversimplification is dangerous and leads to emotional responses to problems that should be dealt with by logic. As does throwing around charged imagery like the swastika.

    Oh, and the literacy rate in the U.S. today is 99%, and that includes women and black people, neither of whom were considered in the 1840 survey.

  2. Plato,

    The very first sentence of the same wiki article you mentioned states:

    “Socialism refers to a broad set of economic theories of social organization advocating state or collective ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods, and the creation of an egalitarian society.”

    If the state owns & administers the means of production & distribution, that is radically different from your view that socialism is merely regulation of free markets. Regulation of free markets falls into a slightly different category called Social Capitalism (which, I think, is what Plato believes in). Social Capitalism is a hybrid of Capitalism and Socialism.

    One the imaginary scale between socialism (left) and capitalism (right), social capitalists fall somewhere in the middle. I believe in almost entirely free markets, but I do think there needs to be some regulation to enforce certain human and business rights (such as the right to compete).

    Socialism……Social Capitalism/Plato…..Joel..Capitalism

    Also, in my article, I do not equate Socialism with Communism or Totalitarianism. However, I do point out that in every instance that Socialism has been attempted, it has quickly turned into Totalitarianism because of some very obvious facts of life.

    Finally, the 1840 survey that showed the United States had one of the highest rates of literacy without socialist public education IS valid for us to use in our analysis because the survey only judged white males in most other countries too. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they were RIGHT about only judging white males, but at least the survey was consistent and can be used as a fairly accurate gauge of literacy at the time. Humans have progressed since then, but my point is that education is superior under a private versus a public system.

  3. I’m a bit confused at the last part:

    “Education (at least till age 14) should be free & mandatory for all”

    At whose expense should education be free?
    Are kids property of the state for education to be mandatory?

  4. confused,

    I too am confused. I am a firm believer in the freedom of the individual, but I also believe that each person should have the opportunity to achieve a good life. A good education while a person is young is vital to opening opportunities for that person to pursue happiness. Children are unable to make quality decisions for themselves, which is why we don’t allow them to vote till the age of 18. So where do we draw the line between parental freedoms, child’s rights and state authority? This is an issue I struggle with also.

  5. Let me help:

    • A child’s rights don’t include having the state rob me of my hard-earned money to pay for his/her education

    • A parent’s freedom over their children DO include the right to send them to any school that they can afford as well as not sending them to any school and homeschooling them.

    The incentives of having a child and raising it are skewed by the existence of a publicly funded educational system. I bet a lot more pregnant women will think twice if they knew they faced a $10k annual bill for schooling.

    Sell all the public school properties to private educational ventures and spend the money on vouchers for kids who have already been born.

  6. Confused,

    Lately, I have actually been leaning towards your position on public education, but I am still working out many kinks in my theory. I would love if you emailed me @ ( or used a comment here to further expound upon your theory. If your comment/email is well enough written & reasoned, I would publish it as a full article on the front page of my website citing you as the author if you wish.

    Basically, here is the question I would most like answered- what is the ideal form of education in America? Public/private/vouchers/what? Why? What rights should children have in an America with a small government? How do we protect the pursuit of happiness while balancing the other issues?

  7. Your definition of socialism is very very wrong – “In summary, socialists prefer very large and powerful governments (China, the old Soviet Union, Cuba, and France to some extent). Capitalists prefer small & limited governments (United States, Australia).”

    Your definition sounds like US republican propaganda.

    Socialism is the phase between capitalism and communism. It is the phase where the “government” and all other bougoisie implements are removed. China and the Old Soviet Union and North Korea (At least in the latter days) were/are not Socialist countries, defined by the fact that they turned into to Totalitarian dictatorships which also retained/developed a class structure again, they are defined as social capitalism. Socialism advocates the road to having no government at all, at least in the traditional sense. The country and the business’s would be run by the people who work in them. Socialism does not necessarily mean very high taxes taking your money to give to other people. This is a myth projected by people like the republicans, because they and there friends are “business leaders”. The only people who would “lose” in socialism would be the select few at the top – 80 % of the wealth on this planet is in the hands of about 220 people. Unless you are own of these 220 then your standard of living will increase!

    Alot of people I have spoken to have also said “Yes, but everyone should be allowed the opportunity to get into that top 220, if you work hard you can make it.”. This is essentially a myth projected by these same people as ‘the American Dream’. Although there are a few people now and again who make it big (Bill Gates), your chances of doing this, even if you worked really hard, are slim and none. Just by the definition of capitalism – a couple of big winners with a lot of small losers. Also, just because Bill Gates came from the working class does not give him the right to exploit them.

    If you have any questions please leave a comment.


  8. Give me a break!
    We are a socialist country in many ways and it works pretty darn good.
    I can tell you would prefer that there be no safety-net whatsoever for people. In your world, many would not receive any education, be hungry, be sick and have no housing.
    Not every american is capable of taking care of himself perfectly.
    You have this unrealistic belief that we all have high IQ’s, supurb recovery and coping skills and can weather any storm all on our own.

    I’m not religious, but I’m fine with YOU paying less taxes, in the way of tax deductable donations to your church. Churches do good work. I don’t have kids, but I am happy to pay school taxes so YOUR kids can have a better education. I could go on and on about the benefits of USA social “ized” programs SUBSIDIZED by me that benefit the common good. I am happy to do so and our world is a more compassionate world my way than yours.
    Your view is some sort of survival of the fittest nazi world, where we step over bodies instead of offering a helping hand.
    You chose to step over the few bodies who MAY abuse the system, in order to defend an unrealistic principle.

    You seem to center your whole argument around pursuit of material wealth and completely leave out the rest.
    You seem to think giving people an equal footing somehow destroys their incentive to learn and grow and contribute to the world.
    You have an old time bigotted view of people. The same view people did in the 50’s when they spoke of minorities.

  9. As lazy as our kids are today, we will need socialism to make it. In fact, the Protestant Work Ethic is long gone–and that is why I am in college getting a degree at 38. Never to be a dummy, without a degree I have supervised a call-center and two help desks, with the later being NOC layer 1,2, and 3.

    Socrates is right to presume that “knowlege is recollection.” My life is evident of it. However, the general public is very misinformed to think socialism is “bad.” For the lazy, it’s wonderful!

    For example, after a sociology research, we find that Russia Rock musicians were star-strucked during Glasnost–they never realized how difficult it was to earn your own cash rather than a state stipend. Those rock musicians struggled so much for russian money during glasnost that they took off to western Europe to perform to earn thier cash then trade it back on the back market for the Russian ruble.

    Macroeconomics suggests that per capital income should be change to median income since the higher elite income distorts the average–this is truth.

    In our haste, we must not forget that inequality is a social phenomenon like in-group and out-group. It will never go away!

    Athens fall was its currency.

    A simple mistake could also follow Athens.

    Remember, American can and will only remain a leader if it excels in innovation and research. Once we lose that, we have lost. Ask the question: is America better equipped to run research and innovation under Welfare Capitalism or Socialism?

    –not only should we control our borders in, but going out as well! Speaking of innovation and resarch, if the 50% of holders of Ph.Ds and Master degreees who are asian decided to leave our country to return back home (maybe paid to return??), we would have a crisis on our hands, with our “future” leaving in the form of ideas and knowledge.

    There is a thing called social and human capital–let’s not forget this!

  10. myth: Gates did not come from a wealthy class. That is a rumor that is correct in Macroecnomics. Gates had ties to money–look at the college that he was in at that time!

    Born: October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington.

    Education: Attended Harvard University, 1973–1975.

    Family: Son of William Henry Gates II (attorney) and Mary Maxwell (teacher); married Melinda French (Microsoft manager), January 1, 1994; children: three.

    Gates had access to resources tha allowed him to springboard from and to.

    However, we must be reminded that even the elites have inequality within their own families in which a lower or middle class person (in reproduction) can overcome.

    From my observation, the pooer and rich are very much alike–they both depend on favors. 🙂

  11. Joel- You have so many facts wrong. First, you should note that the immigrants to all U.S. colonies were far more literate than the general populations they immigrated from.

    Second, you seem to be getting your literacy stats from Kenneth Lockridge’s study of literacy in colonial New England. He extrapolates his literacy numbers based on a study of the total number of wills that contained a signature rather than just a mark. Using that sample group – generally wealthy whites – it would seem as if there was something close to universal literacy in the colonies. Other scholars criticize his numbers as clearly skewed because his sample in no way represented the average colonial American.

    Third, your assertion that public education was a post-civil war social experiment to educate newly freed slaves is a flat-out lie. From the inception of our nation, the founding fathers argued that education was absolutely neccessary for the survival of a democracy. In 1779 Thomas Jefferson proposed free education for all the children of Virginia. He also founded the first Public University in America – the University of Virginia. And it was his wish that even university level education be free. In fact, his proposals were the basis for education systems that later developed. The American public school system actually originated in the 1830s and 1840s – created by Horace Mann in Massachusetts and Henry Barnard in Connecticut – some 30 years before the civil war. And by the way, public schools were for whites only. In fact, it was illegal to educate Blacks during this period.

    There are some things that the private sector is unwilling or incapable of doing. Yet, for the better good, for the more perfect union, government must step in and accomplish those things. Contrary to Ronald Reagan’s scandalously incorrect statement, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are – I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”, our government does so many things so well that we take them for granted. But the idealogues fight against their own best interests every step of the way. In the 1840s and 1850s fire houses were for profit. Your house would burn down if a fire wagon pulled up from the wrong insurance company. There were even fist fights between competing insurance companies in front of burning homes. The solution – a single payer system – the modern fire department. Now, no matter who you are, if you dial 911, dedicated, competent firefighters will arive in a matter of minutes to save your home. Or as some people call it – socialized fire protection. If private security companies had the political power of the healthcare insurance industry, we would be paying insurance premeiums for police protection, and any attempt to move to the single payer system that we now have would be decried as moving towards socialized policing. I’m old enough to remember the fire storm about adding floride to the nation’s water supply. Compare the average American child’s teeth to that of the average British child. Catch a flight from New York to L.A. Government regulated jet fuel quality, a single payer, government run air traffic control system, planes built to government safety requirements for airframes and powerplants, maintained to government mandated service intervals, government regulated runways, government certified pilots, government operated cross-country radar sites, government owned GPS and weather satelites all work together, SEAMLESSY, while you sleep on the flight – confident of your arrival. And let’s not forget that grand socialist project – the interstate highway system. Go to the grocery store. Why do you trust the milk, meat, butter, cheese? The government forced the industry to label for purity and expiration. How do you know your doctor is not a quack? His government license is right on his wall. Why does the U.S. have the safest workplaces in the world? Government intervention against unsafe working conditions.

    America is a capitalist nation and will always be such. Don’t fall prey to the sophistry of those that play fast and loose with so-called definitions, as if this one is all good and the other is all bad.

  12. “Scooper”,

    Rarely do I get such well thought out comments on my blog. Thank you for sharing your opinions, even if they are different than my own. You raised many great points about services that the government does perform well, such as fire and police protection. I agree that the government is best suited to provide courts, police, & military. I also think that either local/state/federal governments are best suited to manage access to certain types of resources like roads and air travel. In most other areas, especially in goods & services though the private industry has proved time and again that it is far more efficient.


  13. It doesn’t seem to me that the capitalist cancer in our society is helping anyone much right now other than the top 1% of this country and I think it needs some serious regulation! I label it cancer because cancer is an explosion of toxic cells and it seems to me that Madoff and others like him are like toxic cells run amok!

  14. Your definition of socialism as “large and powerful government” is very wrong. Yes, some socialists advocate state ownership of means of production (which is not the same as “large and powerful” government), but not all socialists agree with this and instead advocate democratic ownership (meaning the people as a collective own the means of production). This is where the difference between Marxist-Leninist socialism and democratic socialism lie. Democratic socialists prefer smaller government, and do not see socialism as a stepping stone to communism – but rather a way to counter the class separation brought about by an elitist capitalist system such as the one we have in the US now, where the richest 1% of the population essentially control the economy and the government.

  15. Joel,
    Well done. Though others choose to quibble over minutiae, I choose to take a more holistic view. In that context, I repeat, “Well done”.
    Indeed, as a young man, even before sitting at an undersized desk, enduring didactic presentations of Psych 101 material, I noticed greed. Fortunately, I also learned how to avoid those who carry that disease. Well, almost all of them.
    Our nation, the oldest constitutional democracy in existence, lives because brilliant men wrote our Constitution; brilliant men and women have amended that document. Most who read carefully agree with your/our position that a strong federal/central government should provide certain infrastructure and services. Confusion begins with a distorted interpretation of, “promote the general Welfare”. To me, it’s that simple.
    “They” believe that national control of our education system promotes better education. I believe that the Department of Education should be abolished, removed, erased, forgotten. NOW.

    Again, good work, sir.

  16. Cool article. I decided to Google socialism after reading all kinds bickering back and forth in the conservative articles I am subscribed to. I really appreciate the understanding particularly the swastika since I spent 3 years in Germany as a young boy with 3rd Army and my Father stationed there. His post, they were integrating the Army and did it by sending my Southern father as Provost Marshall and the Head of the post as the only two white men there. So at school I played with black kids, came home and played with young German boys.

    I saw poverty up close and bombed out buildings including churches. On the way home, we were on a Displaced Persons Ship.

    I have lived on Pine Ridge Reservation with the Lakota Native American. I have a BA in Communication. But until now I really did not know what the hell socialism really meant, thanks…

  17. It didnt take you but two paragraphs to put your entire foot in your mouth, and publicize your idiocy and intellectual depravity. In paragraph 2 you write, “In summary, socialists prefer very large and powerful governments (China, the old Soviet Union, Cuba, and France to some extent).” Three of those – China, The Soviet Union, and Cuba are or were Communist states very different in ideology and practicality to Soviet States.

    Also, you write that “public schools should be abolished and replaced with a system of private & charter schools.” However you fail to realize that charter schools are public schools, recieving public funds but with greater control over their internal decision making i.e curriculum, hiring, methodology. Perhaps you mean public schools should be replaced by private schools and vouchers?

    Keep studying, please.

  18. The problem with pieces like these, is that gullible people stumble onto it and just automatically assume it is the truth. No sources, just opinion

  19. What a heaping pile of crap; Hammer and Sickle?? Nazism was a dictatorship with Socialism as its mask. Nazism is not the an example of Socialism and neither is Communism.

    The Socialism poster near the top is extremely misleading and flawed.
    Obviously, Capitalism alone is just Communism in reverse and left to run rampant and unchecked, does just as much damage.

    A mixed Government/Economic system is the best system, more so with Socialism and Capitalism as it has been demonstrated by Scandinavia and most of Europe.

    It should be suggested that, even though this is your blog and opinion, you should include links to sources. As far as I am concerned, this is just paranoia and misinformation until there is information to back up your view on the subject.

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