The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



SMC student examines socialism

| Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Sophomore Morgan Matthews explained the meanings of socialism and communism in a Saint Mary’s Justice Education Program presentation Tuesday.

Matthews defined socialism as “various economic or political theories that advocate for collective or government ownership and administration based on production and means of goods,” which may or may not include private property based on the different branches of socialism.

According to Matthews, the top 10 socialist countries are China, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands, Canada, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, New Zealand and Belgium. Matthews said these countries demonstrate the different ways socialism can be implemented, as well as the benefits that can come from socialist governments.

Matthews said there is a distinction between socialism and communism, though these two often are confused or used interchangeably. She defined communism as “a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls means of production.”

“Communism eliminates private property completely,” she said. “[Socialism] has government programs where the government does have influence and most of the ownership. However, you do have your own private property.”

Matthews said presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has brought socialism to the forefront of American politics.

“Because of the Cold War and the Iron Curtain, people think of socialism as being the same as communism,” she said. “Communism is a complete radicalization of what socialism means, and … democratic socialism is how people presently have been using socialism in the government.

“Instead of government controlling everything you do and all your property, it’s saying, ‘We need a little more money so we can distribute that money so your children can go to school without extreme amounts of debt or you can break your leg and go to the hospital and not have to worry about the [cost]’.”

According to Matthews, the United States is afraid of socialism because of its ties with communism and the Soviet Union, but she believes the capitalist mentality overlooks the truths behind socialism.

“In socialism, you work hard and you get far,” she said. “However, you have people helping you. You have programs helping you. You have the system helping you. It’s not to each his own, it’s not a dog-eat-dog world. It’s everyone is hoping you get far in life and everyone is helping you get far in life — they’re not trying to draw you back.”

Matthews said President Franklin D. Roosevelt was a democratic socialist.

“The New Deal was pretty much all socialist programs,” she said. “That has been implanted up until now. To be honest, it benefitted us more than what capitalism would do — which is what brought us into [The Great Depression.]”

According to Matthews, socialism in the United States does not look like socialism as the entire economic system, but rather focuses on democratic socialism. She said she wants Americans to learn what socialism is instead of shying away from it out of fear of communism.

“You use different aspects of the types of government,” she said. “You use capitalism regarding some aspects, you use socialism regarding other aspects.”

Matthews said she believes capitalism can empower a country, but it can also be problematic.

“At this point, capitalism has become too big, too strong,” she said. “It’s starting to collapse on itself and cause problems for itself. If we try to rein it in a little more, maybe that would help.”

Tags: , , ,

About Nicole Caratas

Nicole is a senior English Writing and Humanistic Studies double major at Saint Mary's College. Now a senior news writer, she previously served as the Saint Mary's Editor. She was born in real Chicago but grew up in the suburbs, and she currently lives in Opus Hall.

Contact Nicole
  • Matthew Bartilotti

    I didn’t realize that being the world leader in GDP, Medical Research, Military power, and technological innovation meant that our system of life was “collapsing on itself”

    • João Pedro Santos

      Oh yeah, who cares if a lot of American live in poverty, are incarcerated for minor offenses because of their ethnicities, people die from preventable diseases because they have no health insurance or they can’t even drink water in their own houses because that water is poisoned. Who cares about all of that as long as the US is a “world power”?

  • lizzle34

    This is a very simplistic and misguided view of what constitutes a socialistic system. Is the author an economist, or are these just Bernie Sanders’ talking points? Socialism destroys personal liberty. It gives the government even greater power to dictate to Americans how they should be spending their own money. In the last 25 years, as much of the world has embraced free marks, over a billion people have arise from poverty. That’s not because of socialism; it’s because markets opened up after the fall of the Soviet Union. Personally, I’d rather control my own spending as opposed to delegate even more tax money to the government. I’m already paying 40% of my income in taxes. How much more is needed?

    And if anyone thinks that education costs would decrease because of “socialism,” you’re naive. Increased administrative costs and tenure are why tuition keeps increasing, not capitalism. Same with health care. Ask anyone covered under Obamacare as to whether their deductibles have gone up. Mine certainly have. Many remain uncovered because they cannot afford the monthly costs.

    In the words of Arthur Brooks, with capitalism, poor people aren’t liabilities to be managed by government; they are human beings with untapped potential. Sad that you think capitalism is drawing people back. It alone offers an opportunity for entrepreneurship, innovation, and the possibility that you can transcend your class limitations.

    I also think it’s irresponsible to present this kind of piece without a second viewpoint. Did anyone challenge the speaker’s presumptions about capitalism, or were her remarks offered unfiltered?

    • Caylin

      Pardon me, but you lost me at “over a billion people have arise from poverty.” I’m not familiar with “have arise” in traditional–or even non-traditional–English grammar. I do believe it’s irresponsible to post comments if one has not checked his/her/their grammar and citations of facts (or lack thereof). I applaud your use of our hard fought for and defended right to freedom of speech. Even if you used this privilege to post anonymously about a young college student–someone who is no doubt half your age–who was brave enough to present an hour long lecture to her entire college community. Her freedom of speech was used to start a discussion, yours was used as you took the time to write a four paragraph naive, grammatically incorrect rebuttal of a student you will never know. I very much hope that you are able to transcend, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, and use your entrepreneurial spirit to lift yourself to a place where you can comfortably afford your rising healthcare costs.

    • RandallPoopenmeyer

      Tell that to the happiest places on earth, Denmark and Iceland…
      Socialism prevents capitalist trash from taking my liberties.

    • João Pedro Santos

      Did you even read the viewpoint in the first place?

  • João Pedro Santos

    Though I agree with most of what you wrote, I’d just like to inform you that your definition of “communism” is wrong (and you are mistaking it with stalinist dictatorships which called themselves “communist”). In fact, the following definition (which you can find on Wikipedia) is way more accurate:
    “In political and social sciences, communism is a social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of the communist society, which is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social classes, money, and the state.”
    So the main diference between communism and socialism is the existence of the state.