'Socialism' - The Word

Richard Smaby

"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things." "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all." Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

It is amusing to think about how the conservative media has unwittingly contributed to a new positive view of socialism. Words change their meanings by being used in new contexts. Conservatives have called a myriad of social programs socialist:

And the list goes on.

The meaning of the word 'socialism' has changed from referring to government ownership of resources, the means of production, and centralized planning to referring to various government services, many of which people regard positively. So, now Democratic Socialists (and perhaps some Democrats) will be able to profit from the new meaning and young energy of socialism as referring to common sense consideration for the rest of us besides the super-rich, as many younger voters, who don’t have the history of the negative view of socialism, prefer platforms that include the above programs.

While having an idiosyncratic agenda, this article demonstrates a variety of meanings of the word 'socialism.' Reality requires an adjustment in meanings of words. And there might even be  a 'digital socialism.'

Socialists are getting votes. Listen to this rant by Judge Jeanine of Fox News. Do you think conservatives might be worried about younger voters?

Another word that is in the same semantic field as 'socialism' is 'welfare.' This New York Times study analyzes in detail the word and the reality.