Newsweek’s Feb. 16 issue features the provocative cover story, “We are all socialists now.” What a change. After almost two decades of being told, “We are all capitalists,” people who are losing their jobs, their homes and their health care won’t buy it any more.

The authors have their own definition of socialism: government “headed in a more European direction” — some government regulation and oversight, some social welfare spending, some public ownership and public investment for the common good. Of course, note that European workers are free to form unions without corporate interference, and Europe’s governments have to make concessions to the “organized rabble.” And Europe treats comprehensive health care as a right. Oh my! That’s what the Newsweek authors call “big government.”

They reject “big government,” but they fail to mention the anti-big-government crowd’s love of wasteful military spending, huge subsidies for corporations and laws that create huge deficits by letting corporations and the rich avoid any kind of fair taxation. They never mention public controls on profiteering and profits.

For them socialism means “redistributing” wealth down. Funny they don’t talk about who actually does the work of creating that wealth and how it mostly gets redistributed up to a tiny super-wealthy elite.

Well, we thank Newsweek for starting a discussion on socialism. The current failures of the capitalist “free market” system set the stage for new thinking on socialism — what it is and what it isn’t. Most of the things that Newsweek characterizes as socialism are good progressive reforms, things this newspaper not only supports but fights for.

But socialism is so much more.

Karl Marx defined socialism as “winning the battle for democracy.” Workers, working families, farmers, small-business people are the overwhelming majority in any society. Socialism means they, the true majority, are in power — not corporations, not the super-rich who can afford “the best governments that money can buy.”

Socialism is a big topic. But suffice it to say, a country with the productive capacity of ours should be able to provide full employment featuring green jobs, comprehensive health care, free education from pre-school through advanced university degrees, an end to all discrimination, decent and adequate housing for all — for starters. Let’s continue this discussion.

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