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"In any contest between social and anti-social, I choose the social, even if some wag attaches a misleading -ism to the tail end of it."

We live in an era of rampant paradox. I wager that nobody understands a single slogan, yet we speak almost exclusively in slogans. We interact via a medium euphemistically referred to as Social Media, a place where anti-social speech seems expected and surprises nobody, not even those it shocks. In politics, we argue as if every issue were all or nothing and as if moderation rather than extremism was the greatest crime of our time. Trump employs the most offensive speech for those he derisively refers to as socialists, offering a clear choice, I guess, between social and anti-social candidates, with him embodying the latter. His strategy seems to rely upon confusion as its primary enlightening element, betting that he can persuade more voters with provable bullshit than his more social opponents ever can with simple truths. Truth, in his crude calculus, is socialism, pure and simple, and socialism, by definition supported by flurries of out-of-context references to obscure discredited economists, seems to be evil. Truth is thereby proven to be evil. How could it be otherwise?

I will not mention the most "socialistic" government program ever devised, the Oil Depletion Allowance, the original tax-everybody-to-subsidize-the-richest operation, and perhaps the most socially ruinous, vehemently defended by the most self-proclaimed conservative and anti-social voices.
It made Texas what it's become today, a belligerently antidemocratic autocracy encouraging the least sustainable sort of society. It canonized the kind of payoff politics that encouraged the Citizen's United decision and has since become the gold standard for legislative manipulation. Governance by the consent of the governed has become our collective Conservative Christian Deception, a story which convinces only the devoutly naive into believing that we're chaste, faithful, and true rather than simply seeking dominion over you. And no, we never abuse children.

Given a choice between social and anti-social forms of governance, I would always choose the more social forms where people like me might influence without bringing along a dump truck overflowing with payoff cash; where ideas, freely exchanged, wrestle to discover more widely-acceptable choices; and where people actually interact rather than sit passively to receive their ration of cynically conditioning memes. The term Socialism has been hijacked by a raft of truly terrible actors. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was never socialist or republican, except in name only. The Maggie Thatchers of the world always equated socialism with poverty, a dandy way to starve rather than thrive together, but she and her ilk always overplayed their hand. Where actual social forms of governance were adopted, societies thrived, and even the wealthy seemed to somehow, surprisingly, survive.

Our Civil War and the following undermined Reconstruction were more than conflicts regarding slavery, but between two bitterly opposing political philosophies, democracy and aristocracy; new and old-world views. The United States originally claimed to aspire to represent the newer world view, embodying the rights of common people over those of the least common ones. The South deeply influenced the creation of the most compromised components of our constitution in order to preserve as much aristocracy as possible within the constitutional consensus. The aristocrats needed the democrats, but never aspired to be very much like them. They considered their northern counterparts primitive and their own flamboyant and oppressive lifestyle far superior. They projected a superior gentility while promoting a debasing dominion, an anti-social position from the perspective of any representative democracy democrat or republican. The south always reserved their most vehement disgust for the most vulnerable, despising and punishing the poor for being, I guess, so debasingly un-aristocratic. Today, they call themselves republican in the same way that the USSR called itself socialist and Nazi Germany insisted that their's was a nationalistic form of socialism, when both were thugocracies.

Still, if one were to believe the present aristocracy, socialism, the very act of acting together to choose our government's policies, is the greatest threat to democracy. Democracy threatens democracy. It seems that socialism most threatens anti-socialism, a political philosophy pleasing only the few winners destined only to eventually lose in ever bigger ways. Top-heavy forms of governance have proven themselves unsustainable, but autocracies always seem to lose historical perspective. They believe themselves to be blessed and so cannot imagine their inherent vulnerability. God isn't really on their side because God doesn't take sides. They believe themselves to be a whole lot smarter than they ever turn out to be, blindsiding themselves by the thinness of their narrow, heavily-defended world view. Their anti-social insistences eventually undermine them.

The sturdier peasantry, like the biblical poor, will always be with us. We somehow survive repeated insults to our persons and to our inherent intelligence. We abide. We abide by determinedly social means, not by narrow aristocratic nationalist defenses. We employ a rather overwhelming neighborliness, humbly helping and sometimes equally humbly accepting help. We are not as they characterize us. Not unwilling to work but sometimes unable to. Not insisting upon robbing the rich, but aspiring to equal treatment under the law even when we find ourselves unable to 'properly' purchase representation. We won't complain about ponying up our fair share but rebel against being coerced into paying our oppressor's share of anything. We don't seem to want a free ride, but equal opportunity. That's socialism, regardless of what the anti-social minority might insist.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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