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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.”

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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