I’ve been quite busy of late, but Rowland has given me permission to reproduce some writings of his from a Facebook site here on the blog. I look forward to returning to writing more of my own shortly. As a disclaimer, the views and opinions represented below are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of myself. Yadda yadda.
I find it necessary in these days American influenced politics to attempt to better elucidate the fundelmental differences between socialism and liberalism.
In America, and now also on Canada and Bermuda (thank you very much U.S. cultural imperialism), we hear lots of terms like conservative, liberal and socialist being thrown around with no real attempt to actually define them, and in many cases the words are distorted to fit a politcal agenda. In the U.S. it is very common these days to see politicans and supporters of the Republican party try to call opponents (generally the democrats) liberals, and just as we see them calling others liberals, we see the targets of this attempting to run away and distance themselves from this term. This is because a far bit of definition distorting has been done on the part of conservatives (particularly Neo-conservatives) to the meaning of the word liberal. In the classical sense a liberal is one who supporting, literally, liberalism, meaning a lack of government oversite and interferance in most or all fields. To a classical liberal the job of the government is essentially to guard the borders, conduct foreign relations and maintain the infracture of a nation. They see no need for government regulation in matters of social issues and the economy. Hence a classical liberal is the definition of a capitalist, supporting a total free market, and also pretty much the ability to do whatever one wants in terms of things like drugs, sex etc. There is also a school of liberalism called Keyesian liberalism which is a product of the great depression which seeks to have the government prop up the capitalist system through social welfare programs, but fundelmentally it does not seek to change the system of capitalism. Conservatives in America, Canada and Bermuda these days have attempted to equate liberalism (generally keyesian liberalism) to socialism/communism and thus, in the extremely anti-socialist U.S., demonize liberalism.
You will often hear far-right republican pundits in the U.S. try to tell people that because the democrats want to introduce universal health care or raise the minimum wage that they are socialists. Generally any attempt at raising taxes (even if they are to pay for social projects) is portrayed as communism and/or socialism even if it stems from a liberal policy.
However the truth is liberalism and socialism could not be less alike in reality. A socialist, no matter how evolutionary (as oppossed to revolutionary) seeks to fundelmentally change the society. Now I do realise that there are many politicians and political parties in Europe and around the world who call themselves socialist (or social democrat) who appear to be nother more than capitalists, and the truth is they are, they have for the most part have abadoned socialism (even evolutionary) and have replaced with a Third Wayist form of Keyesian Liberalism. Socialists do not accept the current system and attempt to change it. David McReynolds, Presidential candidate of the Socialist Party USA in both 1980 and 2000, described the difference between liberals and socialists in terms of choice: a liberal, if given the choice of death by fire squad or the gas chamber, will agonize endlessly over which is superior. A socialist will try to escape. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, the radical will be killed trying to escape, but a hundred out of a hundred times the liberal will die from one of the two choices he or she could not see beyond.
Hence it should be said that Liberalism and Socialism are opposed fundelmentally and that liberals have no place in a socialist party or movement, as they can not accept the idea that the current system of exploitation must be changed and replaced.