Commentary: An education for Rep. Chris Stewart and his ‘anti-socialism caucus’

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart speaks during a news conference about the National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act being signed into law. Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018.

Oh, boo hoo, Rep. Chris Stewart, cry me a pious river!

From your state’s founding with the likes of an “Orderville” right up through your “Welfare Square,” your state — and its currently dominant religious group — has been premised on the major tenets of “socialism” from inception. I’ll take it a step further, into the present: Your state’s love of all things “first responder” and for the military would be impossible without, again, the major tenets of socialized thought and problem solving!

Most genuinely learned people can debate the precepts and degrees of principle within socialism, but what it boils down to is this: In the end, “socialism” is simply a group of people (a community, a tribe, a society) which seeks to pool its resources, collectively, to solve identifiable problems and to propel itself further into a civilized state. That’s it. Not scary. In fact it is the mechanism that allowed humankind to crawl from the caves, to survive and thrive. It certainly wasn’t “rugged individualism” that accomplished this. Remember, the admonition is safety in “numbers” not in oneself.

The problem with your argument and historically (hysterically?) the argument of the right in the United States — and now your creation of a congressional Anti-Socialism Caucus — has been in its long and oft used conflation of “socialism” (lower-case “s”) with Marxism; the dogmatic attempt at a political and structural Socialism (upper-case “S”), a system that Marx himself was dubious of.

But let the misguided and ignorant right-wing reactionary be not alone. As we see with many centrist Democrats and even “liberals,” they don’t understand this over-arching concept much better. We can observe this with the likes of centrist Democratic media pundits and others like Howard Schultz, a life-long Democrat and now wannabe “centrist” presidential candidate who is finding it nearly impossible to find a constituency of any significance.

Perhaps the most ignorant arguments come from those who seek to reduce “socialism” to the Soviet Union, Cuba or, more recently, Venezuela. Never mind the scientific and strides in education the Soviet Union made (the first in space), the medical advances of Cuba, and the mineral wealth of Venezuela — albeit before these nations descended into chaos due to tyranny and mismanagement more than “socialism.”

While we can easily nit-pick these nations’ shortcomings to death, to be intellectually consistent we must then acknowledge where socialized thought has worked: in the best educated, highly advanced and some of the most productive nations on the planet (certainly comparable to the U.S.). These countries include Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and, to lesser degrees, Germany and Canada. Even our own Alaska admits to the socialized “ownership” of its resources with the redistributed dividends from its oil industry.

So again, cry me a river.

The reason these Scandinavian and other countries have evolved into a contemporary understanding and practice of “socialism” is because they lived through feudalism and fascism. They see in modern capitalism the familiar elements for a neo-feudalism, with its grossly distorted income separation, decaying national infrastructures, health care as a privilege unlike a “right.” Even the cave dwellers and other “primitive” societies understood this. I could go on and on with anecdotes.

No, Mr. Stewart, with your “anti-Socialist caucus” you can be a tyrannical and conservative Pontius Pilate to, in today’s vernacular, the socialism of Jesus. You can be the Javert to Victor Hugo’s Jean Valjean, but millions of others (and those sympathetic) will throw our support to the “natural” structure the living organisms like bees and ants know, that early man knew, that great thinkers of all ages recognized (Tolstoy, Dickens, and Einstein himself to name a few), and that many of the most advanced today understand: that the collective problem solving tenets of “socialized thought” (okay, socialism, lower-case “s”) are what solve problems and advance the planet.

Now, Mr. Stewart can we move on and talk about housing your state’s homeless, filling your potholes, and cleaning your air?

Philip Vernon

Philip Vernon, Salt Lake City, is a management consultant who specializes in issues of workplace diversity."