Is Canada a dangerous bastion of socialism? According to Trump, maybe: Don Pittis

So what exactly is socialism, anyway, and why is U.S. President Donald Trump so alarmed about it?In what some are calling the start of a new Red Scare of the kind that divided U.S. politics and economics in the previous century, the president used last week's state of the union address to stoke partisan anxiety. "Here in the United States, we are alarmed by the new calls to adopt socialism in our country," Trump declared in his speech to Congress. "America was founded on liberty and independence — and not government coercion, domination and control."As he spoke, network cameras panned to self-declared supporter of socialism Sen. Bernie Sanders and, by U.S. standards, the left-leaning Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.'Socialist' like Canada?  But, of course, to most Canadians — and to most of the world's other liberal democracies — the socialism of Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez that advocates things like universal health care and moderating the extremes of U.S. wealth and poverty does not seem very alarming. To most Canadians, raised in what has been called a mixed economy for its combination of the public and private sector, that kind of socialism holds little terror.Left-leaning member of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez looks down at a button with a picture of a child, as Trump talks about immigration during his state of the union address. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)The discussion of who owns the means of production is one of the places where politics and economics come together in the subject area known as political economy.When I studied economics decades ago, most of the courses analyzed the pure mechanics of capitalism. Political economy only raised its head in a final-year course on the history of economic thought, which came as a revelation, and in which anyone who did not follow mainstream capitalist thinking was described scathingly as "heterodox." That included socialism.Socialism defined In a short telephone call, Laura Macdonald, a Carleton University professor and former director of the school's Institute of Political Economy, offered the following:"Socialism is a broad ideology that has different variants, but in general is associated with greater faith in the role of the state versus the market, and a skepticism about the capacity of the market, on its own, to deliver both growth and social equity."As a term, she said, socialism is contextual, which means to say it depends on how you use it.A sculpture of Karl Marx, author of The Communist Manifesto, in Chemnitz, Germany. (Hannibal Hanschke/Reuters) "I don't think Donald Trump would call us socialist, but probably he thinks we're dangerously close to that and that may be one of the reasons he doesn't like Canada very much," Macdonald said.Stella Gaon, a theorist at ...Read more

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