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  1. about 10 hours ago on Gary Varvel

    There are two ways (at least) of thinking about socialism. One way is to look at what socialist theorists have said over the past couple of hundred years; another way is to look at the actual programs of the various socialist parties. There is overlap between the two, but they aren’t identical. First, the theorists. There is a wide variety of different socialist theories, from authoritarian to anarchistic, but I would say the one point they have in common is a class analysis of society, and a belief that the relationship between the classes is adversarial: there will never be an alliance between the classes, and there will always be a struggle between the classes, unless somehow you can create a society without classes. Most socialists (but not all) call for some kind of social ownership of the means of production and natural resources. Social ownership does NOT necessarily mean government ownership. Union ownership, for instance, counts as social ownership. Second, the programs of the parties. Socialist parties have advocated a lot of different programs, mostly on the way towards a socialist society rather than as a full realization of socialism. So, for example, universal health care is not the definition of socialism, but it’s the kind of improvement in society that many socialist parties call for as a practical improvement. Historically socialist parties also called for the eight-hour work day, the elimination of child labor, health and safety regulations for the workplace, the rights of women and minorities, and so on. None of these is exclusive to socialism: many others who are NOT socialists call for the practical improvements socialist parties have promoted. Those who call themselves Democratic Socialists mostly don’t make a big deal of the conflict between the classes, and so they don’t count as real socialists; but they do advocate many of the practical programs socialist also favor.

  2. about 24 hours ago on Steve Kelley

    So girls don’t fart?

  3. 1 day ago on Steve Breen

    Gosh, maybe you should learn some political science before you draw a political cartoon.

  4. 1 day ago on Two Party Opera

    Great to see Barbara Jordon in your strip.

  5. 1 day ago on Tom Toles

    I’m betting he will be an unindicted coconspirator.

  6. 2 days ago on Steve Kelley

    And further, a few books that go beyond dictionaries: I would start with C. S. Lewis’ “Studies in Words”, especially the chapter on “nature”. Then I might go to Raymond Williams’ “Keywords”. An excellent but rather difficult book is “The Structure of Complex Words”, by William Empson. That’s a start.

  7. 2 days ago on Steve Kelley

    Just as a footnote, I get very tired of argument by dictionary definition. I love dictionaries. I own probably thirty or forty different kinds of dictionaries for different purposes. Part of my doctoral degree was a course in lexicography. (In Latin, I admit, not English, but the principles are pretty much the same.) I don’t actually write dictionary articles myself, but I do write encyclopedia articles as part of my professional life. I have a pretty good sense of what a dictionary definition can do and can’t do. What it can’t do is show the complications of interesting and important words.

  8. 2 days ago on Steve Kelley

    Your dictionary definition of virtue is so broad that it’s useless. I can certainly find a place there for taking out the garbage: what about “lack of corruption”? (For those who are a little slow, I’m making a joke.) Here’s some more virtue for you. Right now it’s virtuous to stop using fossil fuels. But it’s hard, because a lot of the energy we use is produced using fossil fuels. If the government would supply energy that is produced by renewables, we would all use it. We wouldn’t have to be forced to do it. We wouldn’t say, “Darn it, I wish I could plug into an energy source that’s produced by coal.” We would just do it. Government could make that virtue easy.

  9. 2 days ago on Steve Kelley

    Taking out the garbage is pretty important. If a community doesn’t deal with its garbage, it’s going to get into big trouble. I do believe that the community has a right to insist that people deal with their garbage, as a matter of public health. Sewage systems deal with human waste; imagine a big city with no sewage system. Actually, you don’t have to imagine it, you can visit cities, or parts of cities, that don’t have sewage systems, and it’s not pleasant. But once there’s a sewage system and indoor plumbing, then miraculously you find that people use the plumbing. Government isn’t always big stuff; sometimes it’s important but not glamorous. Here’s another: it’s virtuous to educate your children. It would be not virtuous to leave your children without the ability to read and write and do mathematics and so on. Many parents don’t have the time or the ability to do that job well, so the government runs a system of public education. A good thing. It makes virtue easier.

  10. 3 days ago on Bob Gorrell

    An emergency is something you have to deal with right away or risk serious consequences. By that standard, climate change is the greatest emergency we have ever faced.