The lady doth protest too much, me thinks. From Hamlet
I am going back to the library tomorrow, which is a major socialist institution. Going there makes me think of the United States. When I lived in Little Rock I went to the main library downtown a couple of times, but I mostly used the small branch just a five minute walk from my house, and the university library.
I am a great fan of democracy, but I believe this free society has benefited from certain elements within the socialist philosophy. One of them is free information, but of course the communists corrupted some pretty good ideas. I think this institution is especially important in 2015 when we see that media is not always doing its job, and real journalism is becoming less accessible to poor people.
Information doesn’t just mean news. Many ideas are expressed through fictional books. I am a fan of science fiction myself and this genre has been used for centuries to express ideas that in earlier times would get the author into serious trouble. It was a way they could criticize authorities, as well as the Church, when that was illegal.
I have referred to this individuality as dangerous ideas, and the Harris poll suggests that more and more Americans are open to the idea of censorship today as well. Maybe it’s not surprising that there is still a market for sci-fi with a strong social message, as well as an event called Banned Books Week.
I don’t know if the strong American protests against anything that remotely looks like a socialist influence is a way to compensate and hide insecurity, but it is puzzling. It’s a bit like us Europeans and our Hitler complex. We are lining up to show that we are more tolerant than any other people. We want people to see that we are better than the Europeans of the 1930’s and 40’s, and of course we do more than any of our contemporaries. We see this in everything from environmental issues to sexuality to immigration. Maybe it’s not a coincidence then that Germany and Sweden, two countries with substantial World War 2-guilt, have promised the Syrian refugees more than any other country. In fact, it could destroy them if they don’t do more to protect themselves.
This might also explain US foreign policies, specifically in the Middle East. If you don’t have democracy you need a strong central government. I think many have assumed that the Muslims want a Western democracy, but we frequently end up realizing that we have to give the country back to the same people we defeated in a war. I believe many of our allies, such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates, have something worse than socialism. We are not allowed to point out the obvious oppression of the Muslim religion because that makes us islamophobes, as if we have an irrational fear.
Unlike Christianity they don’t have any socialist ideas because they are not supposed to question anything, especially not God or the people representing him. I think they need some of their own Robert Heinleins, Octavia Butlers, Ursula Le Guins and Isaac Asimovs. After all, they probably don’t leave everything behind because they want less freedom. I do think they need to take religion less serious, though, and become individuals.