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A Public Service Message from the American Income Life Insurance Co. Waco, Texas Bernard Rapoport, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer Socialism, the Word BY RALPH L. LYNN Perhaps no word in our time is so misused and so misunderstood as socialism. Words in and of themselves have meaning only as each of us assigns, meaning to them. Thus, even informed writers and speakers who are people of integrity and who are also adept in the use of language may fail to convey their meaning since each reader or hearer bringing his own experience to the task will interpret words in ways surprising to their users. The word, “socialism,” was coined about 1830 to refer to individuals and groups who were appalled by the horrors attending industrialization and urbanization. Some of these people could be called state socialists. They wanted to extend the right to vote to all adult men so that the poor could force the governments to heed their pleas for a shorter workweek and better working and living conditions. Some were Utopian Socialists. These formed small, co-operative, sharing communities apart from the established, competitive, laissez-faire societies. They hoped that these ideal communities could be show windows of an earthly heaven which the established societies might be inspired to imitate. Others of these individuals were Christian socialists. They hoped to persuade the landlord nobility and the business tycoons who dominated affairs to use their power in Christian fashion to relieve the sufferings of the poor. They were really paternal socialists. All of these developments came about before anybody ever heard of Karl Marx. Both Utopian socialism and Christian socialism failed because of human selfishness and egotism and because both depended upon voluntary cooperation. Even after the papacy itself was largely converted to Christian socialist doctrines, most of the most devout leaders of society would echo a prominent American Catholic layman in his response to the encyclical called Mother and Teacher, “Mother yes Teacher no.” In Western European nations, pragmatically developed state socialism combined with private property and free enterprise has appeared. It is probably impossible to have anything else in a free, democratic society. Thus in the Western industrialized European nations, and the United States, the governments by mass voting of appropriate regulations have gradually approximated the wishes of the early 19th century socialists. Increased productivity has allowed all of this to be done while keeping intact the disproportionately large share of the pie held by the relatively few at the top of the economic heap. The Russians and the peoples of Eastern Europe in general have been much less fortunate. There, the governments in general opposed industrialization and refused to allow the gradual political changes characteristic of the West. In Russia, the consequence was the most violent revolution of our time and the establishment of the most murderous kind of totalitarian dictatorship. Tragically, this dictatorship was designed to achieve in one long convulsive effort the hopes and dreams of the Russian people to be like the West. It is almost unbelievable that some opinion makers in the United States still use the same label for both the Communist Russian dictatorship and the civilized Western European systems. Perhaps a few who do so are people of integrity who are also totally uninformed. But most who do so are informed and adept in the use of language and totally without integrity. The result is widespread confusion which makes profitable public discourse difficult. American Income Life Insurance Company EJOCUTIVE OFFICES: P.O. SOX 206, WOO. YEW 7703. 111-773410110 BERNARD RAPOPORT Chairman of the Bard end Chief Executive Officer THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21