Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

February 25, 2005

Can people choose socialism?

Filed under: — Different River @ 4:05 pm

George McGovern was quoted as saying during his 1972 presidential campaign that “If the people of the Soviet Union want to live under Communism, we have no right to interfere.” (I don’t have a source for that quote, so maybe it’s apocryphal — send me an e-mail or post a comment if you know a source.) The truth, of course, is that the “people of the Soviet Union” never got to chose anything, so if McGovern actually did say that, it was an idiotic thing to say.

It was often said during the Cold War that the different between Communism and Socialism was the Communism was imposed by dictators, but Socialism (e.g., in Sweden, etc.) was democratically chosen.

Now, Ashish Hanwadikar takes on the question of whether it is even possible for socialism to be democratically chosen, with specific reference to the case of India:

[D]o you think people, whose properties were appropriated by Indira Gandhi’s Govt. in the name of Nationalism, choose to have socialism? If they indeed “choose” to have socialism why was force necessary to take their property.

Oh, I see. You mean to say MOST of the people chose to adopt socialistic pattern of economic “development”. Indeed, according to same logic a village can “choose” to make a widow sati. You see, in socialism people have freedom to choose for others. What a craze!

Indeed, if Socialism is the right of some people to choose how to dispose of other people’s property, then it’s not just an economic system different from free enterprise; it’s also a political system different from democracy.

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