The many political ‘ISMs’ discussed in our culture today #TBT

Posted By on October 21, 2021

AnnLandersSocialismCommunism_etcEvery time I use political term with an “ism” these days, I sense I need to clarify the meaning as much as for myself as to the person I’m talking too. Often I’ll refer to an online resource in order to be sure that I’m not misspeaking … but usually its because the terms have become generic, interchangeable and debate stoppers.

An Ask Ann Landers column from years ago in the Chicago Tribune simplifies the ‘isms’ (hence this as a Throwback Thursday #TBT post), although I sure could be clarified and perhaps interpreted differently by intellectuals?

Socialism: You have two cows. Give one cow to your neighbor.

Communism: You have two cows. Give both cows to the government, and they may give you some of the milk.

Fascism: You have two cows. You give all of the milk to the government, and the government sells it.

Nazism: You have two cows. The government shoots you and takes both cows.

Anarchism: You have two cows. Keep both of the cows, shoot the government agent and steal another cow.

Capitalism: You have two cows. Sell one cow and buy a bull.

Surrealism: You have two giraffes. The government makes you take harmonica lessons.

As for a personal story, I think back to my good friend in high school, college and years after college; his name was Charliealthough enjoy remembering him nicknamed Kamikaze (second from left). RichCharlieRobGreg1980He saw things politically different than me and it made him very intriguing. Of course we were both “young” and exploring our political ideology, so much of our discussion was based on our limited life experience, high school level reading, counterculture influence, teachers, small town community, family and home life. For me, I really only knew traditional American values and with a father and grandfather fought to preserve our way of life, I respected their sacrifice, years of experience and their views (respected Charlie’s as well … even though I didn’t agree with them).

Charlie had different experiences … and having spent his early years living overseas “in the orient” as we called it in those days … saw the United States as a World War II victor, oppressive nation and as an anti communist country with business interests, capitalism and “the man” warring against the charlie_microvanMarxist movement in other parts of the world. It didn’t help that his father was an academic (college professor), mother a successful career woman coming out of the women’s rights movement, an older brother that I saw as a 1960s rebel and holding philosophical views unknown to me. Charlie’s music taste, reading material and college path (degree in philosophy and fine art) all mirrored his leftist political views. He declared himself a Marxist and enjoyed debating from that point of view with me … all respectfully as college friends did back then (and should today).

We stayed in touch through the early years as he continued his graduate education, became a potter, had art exhibits and both lived and taught school in a city of 9-million people in China … until the Communist threw out Americans after the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests. He came back to America and landed a job as a museum curator, but said he “didn’t fit” with our consumer driven society, etc. I recall a letter appalled at the extravagate waste, overproduction and consumerism of our U.S. culture after years of living in China. So he move to Portugal where I lost touch with him for a couple decades. Thankfully he reach out some years back after moving back the U.S. and MarkLevin_AmericanMarxism_avalilable210713we connected again over our common interest in sailing and the good memories from our high school and college years.

The long winded point that I’m driving at is that we are politically totally different, but that it is possible to discuss, understand and respect each others views. Neither of us force our philosophy on the other (although we still enjoyed debating). I also recognized that it is difficult for both philosophies to coexist in a country where one political view enforces their philosophy on the other, be it from the right of left. In Charlie’s case, he left the capitalist United States in search of so better option (it doesn’t exist IMHO) … and would prefer our country reflect his Marxist philosophy. Unfortunately for those of us with a conservative view, we seems to be losing ground as the political left “enforces” their progressive agenda on American and we seem to be sliding inch by inch in the direction that Mark Levin calls “American Marxism.”


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