Merriam Webster Online, one of the worlds most famous English dictionaries, has announced that the most looked up words online this year were 'socialism' and 'capitalism'. This just goes to show the confusion in the American public over the true meaning of these words. They have been so loosely dropped from the lips of hundreds of pundits, talk show hosts, journalists and bloggers that no one can be blamed for being confused.
What do you have when huge Wall Street CEO's and major corporations (capitalists) beg for bailouts (socialism) and get it (robberyism)? What about when Red China (communist- ie. advanced socialism) becomes the world's second largest economy (capitalism) while still maintaining control over every aspect of the society (Stalinism)? When Vladimir Putin (Communist pretending to be capitalist) throws his countries richest man (pure capitalist) into jail and takes over his oil company (pure capitalism) and nationalizes it (socialism) but controls the profits for himself and his cronies (capitalism at its idealist to many capitalists) then the ideas behind the words gets really muddled. Anyone would be mind boggled by this.
To show how aberrated these words from their original meanings have become, mark that socialism originally referred to governmental ownership and administration of the production and distribution of goods. Now it has come to mean any transaction that does not have profit involved in it, is done for mostly humanitarian reasons or which gets in the way of unrestrained capitalism. Capitalism referred to private or corporate ownership of the tools used to make and transport products whose prices are set by competition on the free market. In countries such as Cuba, North Korea and the formerly communist Russia it has corrupted to even mean doing anything at all for oneself under ones own volition.
Not that these are the only words that have wandered from their original meaning. 'Unions' were once meant to help provide jobs for working class people, now they often block people from getting jobs. People talk about 'freedom' and the fight for it, yet people now more than ever seek security before freedom and at any price. They talk of 'liberating' another land when actually they are imposing a new order the land's people did not ask for and are not allowed to dissent from it. 'Right to Work' laws allegedly give workers the freedom to work any job but in reality allow employers to easily get rid of workers.
One should be careful when anyone starts labeling things too readily. The only phrase one should really familiar himself with is 'con game'.