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Forman writes: "The critics cry, 'Obamacare is socialism!' They falsely equate Western European-style socialism, and its government provision of social insurance and health care, with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism."

President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a rally in Largo, Maryland, 03/15/12. (photo: Getty Images)
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a rally in Largo, Maryland, 03/15/12. (photo: Getty Images)



Obama the Socialist? Not Even Close

By Milos Forman, The New York Times

11 July 12

 

hen I was asked to direct “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” my friends warned me not to go anywhere near it.

The story is so American, they argued, that I, an immigrant fresh off the boat, could not do it justice. They were surprised when I explained why I wanted to make the film. To me it was not just literature but real life, the life I lived in Czechoslovakia from my birth in 1932 until 1968. The Communist Party was my Nurse Ratched, telling me what I could and could not do; what I was or was not allowed to say; where I was and was not allowed to go; even who I was and was not.

Now, years later, I hear the word “socialist” being tossed around by the likes of Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and others. President Obama, they warn, is a socialist. The critics cry, “Obamacare is socialism!” They falsely equate Western European-style socialism, and its government provision of social insurance and health care, with Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism. It offends me, and cheapens the experience of millions who lived, and continue to live, under brutal forms of socialism.

My sister-in-law’s father, Jan Kunasek, lived in Czechoslovakia all his life. He was a middle-class man who ran a tiny inn in a tiny village. One winter night in 1972, during a blizzard, a man, soaked to the bone, awakened him at 2 in the morning. The man looked destitute and, while asking for shelter, couldn’t stop cursing the Communists. Taking pity, the elderly Mr. Kunasek put him up for the night.

A couple of hours later, Mr. Kunasek was awakened again, this time by three plainclothes policemen. He was arrested, accused of sheltering a terrorist and sentenced to several years of hard labor in uranium mines. The state seized his property. When he was finally released, ill and penniless, he died within a few weeks. Years later we learned that the night visitor had been working for the police. According to the Communists, Mr. Kunasek was a class enemy and deserved to be punished.

I found myself in an equally absurd, but less depressing, situation when I was moonlighting on Czech TV as a moderator, introducing movies, in the early ’50s. It was live, so there was no chance to bleep politically undesirable words. Every utterance, even in supposedly spontaneous interviews, had to be scripted, approved by the censors, learned by heart and repeated verbatim on the air.

When I was preparing to interview one Comrade Homola, a powerful Communist, I sent him questions, but didn’t receive his answers. My boss, also a powerful party member, told me: “He is lazy! Write his answers for him, and remind him to learn them by heart.” So I did.

Comrade Homola arrived at the last moment. When the red light went on and I asked the first question, he reached into his pocket, took out my answers and started to read them, awkwardly and obediently — including my inadvertent grammatical mistakes. And thus, to my consternation, went the whole interview. In the control booth, my boss hit the roof. I was fired the next day for ridiculing a representative of the state.

Whatever his faults, I don’t see much of a socialist in Mr. Obama or, thankfully, signs of that system in this great nation. Mr. Obama is accused of trying to expand the reach of government — into health care, financial regulation, the auto industry and so on. It’s fair to question whether the federal government should have expanded powers: America, to its credit, has debated this since its birth. But let’s be clear about how frightening socialism actually could be.

Marx believed that we could wipe out social inequities and Lenin tested those ideas on the Soviet Union. It was his dream to create a classless society. But reality set in, as it always does. And the results were devastating. Blood flowed through Russia’s streets. The Soviet elite usurped all privileges; sycophants were allowed some and the plebes none. The entire Eastern bloc, including Czechoslovakia, followed miserably.

I’m not sure Americans today appreciate quite how predatory socialism was. It was not — as Mr. Obama’s detractors suggest — merely a government so centralized and bloated that it hobbled private enterprise: it was a spoils system that killed off everything, all in the name of “social justice.”

What we need is not to strive for a perfect social justice — which never existed and never will — but for social harmony. Harmony in music is, by its nature, exhilarating and soothing. In an orchestra, the different players and instruments perform together, in support of an overall melody.

Today, our democracy, a miraculous gathering of diverse players, desperately needs such unity. If all participants play fair and strive for the common good, we can achieve a harmony that eluded the doctrinaire socialist projects. But if just one section, or even one player, is out of tune, the music will disintegrate into cacophony.

I am not asking Mr. Obama and the Republican leaders to stop playing instruments of their choosing. All I am asking is that every player keep in mind the noble melody of our country. Otherwise the noisy dissonance might become loud enough to wake another Marx, or even worse.

 

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-72 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 09:24
Another NY Times dysinformationa l hit piece trashing what was supposed to be socialism or communism but wasn't even close. Is any one else getting tired of the constant lies and NYT articles which are no more than vile propaganda?
 
 
+50 # riverhouse 2012-07-11 11:25
Milos Foreman lived under communism so he most certainly understands what socialism is and is not. Calling President Obama a socialist is an ignorant thing to do and proves the person making the claim would not know socialism if it bit him on the backside.
 
 
+38 # engelbach 2012-07-11 13:06
Foreman lived under Stalinism, not Marxist-Leninis m. The latter hasn't existed since Lenin's death in 1924.

Of course Obama isn't a socalist. And neither, in many ways, was Stalin nor his bureaucracy.
 
 
-30 # Michael_K 2012-07-11 13:24
That's NOT the point! The point is that it's disingenuous to even bring it up when the man is a complete and obvious fascist. You have to be blind not to see it. Alluding to his "socialism" is a straw man.
 
 
+21 # ABen 2012-07-11 19:46
I think you might have this administration confused with the previous administration. Either that or you have a rather warped idea of what the term actually means.
 
 
+8 # Todd Williams 2012-07-12 11:59
You obviuosly don't know hat a real facist is, do you Michael K?
 
 
+28 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 14:14
What the Soviet Union and it's satellites had was NOT communism. No more than what the US has is democracy.

People who don't know, or don't care what words mean have no business writing them.
 
 
+10 # Bigfella 2012-07-11 20:44
Agree, the media keeps calling North Korea Communism / Socialist state but it is no it is an dictatorship!
The Soviet States worked the same under Starlinin / Leninism....not Marxism...but years of BS an non thinking has had its effect! As for the NYT being an open and center paper all I can say to those who feel that way "The pixies are waiting for you at the bottom of the well!" Why dont you go and find out?
 
 
+10 # bmiluski 2012-07-11 11:52
So, how much are you being paid to keep spewing the same old neo-con baloney?
 
 
+59 # MHAS 2012-07-11 11:55
Mr Forman had a horrible experience with something he was told was socialism. It has clearly jaded him in relation to anything else that might be given that designation. He seemingly has no awareness of the deeply democratic, anti-authoritar ian socialist traditions in the West---socialis ts who have historically sought to deepen political democracy and extend it into the economic sphere with the recognition that corporatist/fin ance capitalism is as much a threat to democracy as much as is the totalitarianism of the Stalinists...
 
 
+21 # paulrevere 2012-07-11 12:59
Yes!! Further clarity...thank s MHAS.
 
 
+20 # engelbach 2012-07-11 13:06
Excellent answer.
 
 
-6 # Todd Williams 2012-07-12 12:03
No clarity there. Not an excellent answer.
 
 
+41 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-11 14:14
I agree. The problem he faced was tyranny, not socialism.

There is nothing inherently evil about a belief in social justice or in the idea that you can't put a price tag on everything.
 
 
+5 # Bill Clements 2012-07-11 15:30
He didn't have to be "told" it was socialist ideology because it IS one! And I wouldn't necessarily assume that Mr. Foreman is opposed to all forms of socialist ideologies, either. Where do you get that from what he has written above?

It WOULD be of interest to me, however, to hear him opine on the capitalism as it exists today here in America.
 
 
+3 # Activista 2012-07-11 23:02
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Films_directed_by_Milo%C5%A1_Forman
agree - his movies are universal - anti-establishm ent, challenging authority, stupidity, Le Petit Bourgeois ...
 
 
+4 # Activista 2012-07-11 22:58
"He seemingly has no awareness of the deeply democratic, anti-authoritar ian socialist traditions in the West?"
He is more aware as ever you can be Mr. MHAS.
I come from the same country - as Forman did in 1968 - have the same experience.
CSSR aka CzechoSlovak SOCIALIST Republic. Read carefully the article - words have meaning ONLY in context.
DDR - East Germany - Deutsche DEMOCRATIC Republic was ONE of the most totalitarian state ever created (with free education IF your religion was Marxism ..etc.)
Forman is right - he sees his new country, USA, disintegrating - understand USA better than 99% "BORN IN THE USA".
Watch some of his films - en.wikipedia.or g/wiki/Category :Films_directed _by_Milo%C5%A1_ Forman
all deeply human and against TOTALITY. Can not see one Republican ideologue applauding Milos Forman.
 
 
+3 # Todd Williams 2012-07-12 12:02
MHAS, did you even read Forman's article? Please reread the third paragraph. It is self explanatory. He understands the difference. Do you?
 
 
+16 # paulrevere 2012-07-11 12:58
I agree 100% bluepilgrim...w hat socialism is and what it has been twisted into as a social process and then retwisted, as illustrated by the criticisms of your point, does no justice nor compliment to intelligence and education in this country or on this site.

Total reflex with no understanding...

Forman's analogy to music is fair and poetic, but his implication that the irrational censorship and injustice he experienced was due to 'socialism' is just as silly as how Limbo, Faux and their emotional crowd use it...imho, facile at best...thanks for your comment and realistic perspective!
 
 
+23 # sol4u2 2012-07-11 09:35
Well stated, it is a time for harmony and to remember our rooots...
 
 
+3 # dovelane1 2012-07-12 02:28
As any "real" musician will tell anyone, dissonance is used to make harmony more affective and more desired. Dissonance is inroduced, accepted and used in support of the whole, in support of the outcome.

There are many voices. Some can only sing a note or two, others can sing many notes.


The ideology of the Republicans is "you're only okay if you believe and act exactly like I do." They don't want dissonance or harmony; they want a single note. I sometimes wonder if it's because they have have learned to hate the note or two they have, and want everyone else to sing the same note so they don't feel so alone.

If they are tone deaf, that would be even more reason to want others to be the same.

Many republicans, oligarchs, and the like, have learned to believe they know what is best for people, and that is how they can rationalize their priorities, decisions, and behaviors. In actuality, it is best only for themelves, and others who can only sing the same notes.

They focus on their intentions, and deny, avoid, or ignore the consequences of their belief systems.

In the long run, to anyone with any kind of musical or emotional range, one note is boring. So much of what is deemed malice, is probably boredom. The antithesis to boredom is creativity, and when you only have one note, creativity is not an option except, perhaps, for the volume at which one sings that note.
 
 
-38 # Michael_K 2012-07-11 09:40
Obama and Dick Cheney, same mission, same amorality, same obsession with secrecy, same murderous militarism, same disregard for the Constitution and International Law. Socialism???? You make me laugh!
 
 
+8 # paulrevere 2012-07-11 13:00
I am aghast at the red thumbing on your comment...
 
 
-100 # jimattrell 2012-07-11 10:22
Let's see and so hiring 113,000 more federal workers in three years, giving away free cell phones, birth control etc and forcing us to buy stuff we don't want while spending more than we can possibly ever repay... ... While un-employing us all and driving the job creators away....Uh .. ... I forgot ..., that's called what then?
 
 
+35 # Texas Aggie 2012-07-11 13:09
A right wing fantasy?
 
 
+5 # fliteshare 2012-07-11 18:19
FEUDALISM !
 
 
+109 # guycarlos 2012-07-11 10:23
Obama a socialist? What a slander, what an insult! An apology is owed to every red-blooded American socialist from Eugene Debs to Bill Haywood. A socialist does not bailout the banks, he nationalizes them. He does not put Tim Geithner and Larry Summers on the payroll, he puts them behind bars.
 
 
+22 # engelbach 2012-07-11 13:07
Well said!
 
 
+3 # Granny Weatherwax 2012-07-12 07:05
Well, actually taht could be the same: if the taxpayer, through his government, pays for the banks, then he should own them.
What do republicans have against property?
 
 
+26 # Bill Clements 2012-07-11 10:44
I always appreciate those with real life experience weighing in on debates like these, i.e., is Obama a socialist? Nobody can really say that Mr. Forman is talking out of the top of his hat, that he's confused, or biased. He knows what socialism is because he lived with it's horrific reality for 36 years.

And he makes an important distinction between Western-style socialism and Marxist-Leninis t totalitarianism , a distinction that those in the GOP are either ignorant of or are deliberately conflating for their own propagandistic, partisan purposes.

Sadly, most Americans are thoroughly ignorant of what socialism is, it's various permutations, etc. In this country, the right in particular have gone out of their way to demonize it even as they have come to enjoy the benefits of social security and Medicare, both government-run programs that share many similarities with what Western European-style socialist countries offer their citizens.
 
 
+9 # paulrevere 2012-07-11 13:05
ahem...you call what Forman experienced 'socialism' and then call it totalitarianism ? Diametrically opposed social programs in my view.
 
 
+17 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 14:30
Sorry, mouse twitch -- mistakenly gave you a red thumb. Add 2 to the total.

What people are often calling Marxism has nothing to do with Marx or what he wrote either. Mostly he wrote economic analysis about capitalism. Most people are massively ignorant about any of this.
 
 
+3 # Activista 2012-07-11 23:19
I lived 23 years in the same country - CSSR - SOCIALIST Republic - and one word against Das Capital and if lucky you lost the job, was kicked out of the school.
Marxism is ANOTHER religion - and "Most people are massively ignorant about it".
Socialism in this context was TOTALITARIANISM . Admire Social Democracies of the Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Finland, and Denmark) - go there and ask them if they have socialism, if they are Marxists .. people are massively ignorant about any of this.
 
 
+12 # Bill Clements 2012-07-11 15:04
I think the point is that Republicans conflate and equate the two: Western European-style socialism and totalitarianism , clearly wanting their gullible, non-thinking base to do likewise.

But it is Foreman himself who refers to the totalitarianism he lived under for 36 years as a "brutal form of socialism." Ahem.... did you read the article?

No one is confused here except the Republicans who don't know the difference or do and would like to wed the two as an easy way to demonize anything and everything considered socialism.
 
 
+13 # Stephanie Remington 2012-07-11 20:38
Nobody's arguing that it wasn't brutal or totalitarian. The dispute is about calling it socialism.

We, in the US, supposedly live under capitalism, but bailing out too-big-to-fail banks isn't capitalism. Neither is giving them virtually interest free money when everyone else has to pay a higher rate. All of the special rules that the finance industry (and others with deep pockets) have been awarded by buying off members of congress fly in the face of capitalism.

Some of the people who oppose this blatant corruption may genuinely be opposed to capitalism, as well, but accusing everyone who calls foul on our system anti-capitalist makes just as little sense as concluding that a man who lived in an eastern European dictatorship has first-hand experience with socialism simply because his government used that title to describe their particular perversion of justice.
 
 
+7 # jky1291 2012-07-11 21:25
Stephanie, once again, well said.
 
 
0 # Bill Clements 2012-07-12 07:29
So, lets get to the bottom of this:

As I've already pointed out that there are a number of socialist ideologies in the world, one of which is Marxist communism. Moreover, there are various permutations as well: Marxism-Leninis m, Stalinism, Maoism, Trotskyism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Types_of_socialism

Do you want to dispute this?

Moreover, no one can argue that Czechoslovakia was a repressive Communist state within the Eastern Bloc from 1948 to 1969, can they?

But you have a problem with Foreman calling what he lived under a form of socialism? It isn't just his government that arbitrarily assigned the word "socialism" to their form of governance, is it?

How would you have liked Foreman to describe what he lived under? Tyranny is a bit vague, no?

Again, wasn't the whole point of this piece about how Republicans are smearing Obama with this moniker of socialist?
 
 
+3 # Activista 2012-07-12 13:31
"Czechoslovakia was a repressive Communist state within the Eastern Bloc from 1948 to 1969 ..." till fall of 1989
CzechoSlovak SOCIALIST REPUBLIC (CSSR) was a repressive Communist state within the Eastern Bloc from 1948 to 1989 - 40 years of TOTALITY, censorship, electric fence borders - prison.
 
 
+9 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 14:38
One might point out that if any American might move to another country and write about the US, and people there might say "Here is someone who lived in the US so they must be correct in what they say" -- and that whether that American was a religious right wing nut, a liberal Democrat, a neocon, a Quaker anarchist, or anything else, or that they have a clue what American politics really is.

Why would one assume that Forman knows what socialism is any more than Rush Limbaugh knows what Social Security is, or that Glen Beck will write accurately about gun laws or US religion?

This pleading of special expertise is a classic logical fallacy.
 
 
-1 # Bill Clements 2012-07-11 15:23
There are a plethora of socialist ideologies, Marxism-Leninis m being one, along with social democracy, democratic socialism, liberal socialism, eco-socialism, anarchism, etc.

I'm sorry, but I'll go with Foreman here; I think he knows exactly what he's talking about.
 
 
+8 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 18:07
Now there is two of you who don't know. Marx was anything but totalitarian.

Lenin is more difficult to learn about, but the problem seems to be that he reached a point where he thought that a powerful party vanguard was needed to wrest control -- as opposed to Trotsky who favored bottom-up change. Stalin took that much furhter and went into complete totalitarianism and left socialism altogether, into state capitalism and oligarchy -- which is what the USSR ended up with under Stalin.

If you 'go with Formen' or any one source, like you are ordering a quick meal at a fast food joint, you are not going get a decent meal or a decent understanding. You have to look stuff up. Use a search engine like Google and type in 'socialism' and read the decent reference sites and what socialist say about themselves.

Look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czechoslovak_Socialist_Republic#Politics .
This was not communist or socialist, or Marxist -- but totalitarianism using that name: it went against everything the original socialists and communists stood for. It's like the Nazis calling themselves socialist -- while they were rounding up the actual socialists into camps. It's Orwellian -- war is peace, ignorance is freedom...

Just making stuff up and saying, or repeating propaganda, is very destructive.
 
 
+3 # paulrevere 2012-07-11 20:08
Per our present political dialectic...0, being multi racial knows totalitarianism , and would never be involved with or accept any form of such...aka, the Hall of Mirrors doth dictate the view...

WETHEPEOPLE MUST break a mirror, dispell the spell, deconstruct the distruction.

Our very freedoms, and that of our posterity, depend upon it...
 
 
0 # Bill Clements 2012-07-11 20:16
"Totalitarian tendencies were veritably omnipresent in the entire Russian Marxist movement - in not only the Leninists, or "Bolsheviks," but also in his Menshevik opponents. As the 1903 party program of the R.S.D.L.P. - written by Plekhanov, a Menshevik who harshly criticized Lenin - explains, "As essential precondition for this social revolution is the dictatorship of the proletariat, i.e., the conquest by the proletariat of such political power as will enable it to quell all opposition by exploiters." But while the totalitarian impulse permeated the Russian Marxist movement, it was Lenin who gave this tendencies a rigorous theoretical foundation upon which he always acted with perfect consistency."

http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/bcaplan/museum/hisfram1.htm
 
 
+2 # Salus Populi 2012-07-12 07:42
It needs to be emphasized, however, that Russian Marxism was developed in a totalitarian and backward state. Tsarism was essentially a feudal system, and the response both of the Whites and the West to the October Revolution -- which was mostly lacking in bloodshed in its initial stage -- was not nonviolent protest.

The _ancien regime_ and its Western acolytes, following the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, launched a vicious war against the Bolshevik government and its supporters. The Russian Civil War -- which was supplemented by the simultaneous invasion by 19 countries, including the U.S., and whose purpose was,in Churchill's words, to "strangle the Bolshevik baby in its cradle" -- led to a militarized form of communism which deformed the entire ideology and opened the way for the Stalinist dictatorship.

It should never be forgotten that Marx expected the first revolution to take place in the most advanced capitalist economy, not the most backward.
 
 
0 # Bill Clements 2012-07-11 20:35
There are many references on the internet to totalitarian Czechoslavakia.

Here's one:

"The end of Czechoslovakia’ s totalitarian regime was called the Velvet Revolution because of how smooth the transition seemed: Communism dead in a matter of weeks, without a shot fired. But for Vaclav Havel, it was a moment he helped pay for with decades of suffering and struggle."

http://bangordailynews.com/2011/12/18/news/world-news/vaclav-havel-hero-of-anti-communist-revolution-dies/

Moreover,

"The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, in Czech and in Slovak: Komunistická strana Československa (KSČ) was a Communist and Marxist-Leninis t political party in Czechoslovakia that existed between 1921 and 1992."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Czechoslovakia
 
 
0 # josephhill 2012-07-13 15:40
Excellent post, BluePilgrim! Some of these posters seem to confuse Capitalism with Freedom...Socia lism with Dictatorship. I suppose it's not surprising, given the constant mantra we hear while growing up in the USA.

Our schoolchildren have these false notions pounded into their heads from 'Day 1'. The mainstream media are just mouthpieces from capitalism's "AMEN Corner". The mainstream
media are owned by corporate profiteers and operated in conformance with the capitalist ideology that assures the maintainance of the "status quo". In this, the media are VERY much like "Our" Congress...in concert with the rest of "Our" government.

The anti-socialists need to inform themselves in spite of the obstacles in the way of finding the truth. Read socialist philosophers like Herbert Marcuse, Erich Fromm,
Max Horkheimer and you will find that socialism is MUCH more compatible with democracy--and Freedom--than is capitalism.

I realize I'm asking a lot from those of our fellow citizens who have been perfectly happy all along to accept the bullsh*t about how America is the biggest,best, strongest and free-est place on earth.

America can do MUCH better for ALL of its people! Many other countries HAVE done better already. You can look it up!
 
 
+13 # MarjG 2012-07-11 10:48
Obama tried for harmony. I believe it to be his evolved state of humanity and citizenship, while still being a political animal. He tried operating under good faith, only to have the hypocritical opposition create that discord. Really causing suffering across this country to gain political power. The GOP should be ashamed, and get better slogans. Let's also, finally, understand that the corporate elite only create jobs when profitable. They could hoard the money, send it overseas, whatever. The demand from the middle class's purchasing power is what creates jobs. That's why all administrations were able to get money out of Congress to stimulate the economy when no one else is willing or able to invest. Not all debt is created equal.
 
 
+11 # paulrevere 2012-07-11 13:07
What did 0 learn in his time in the Senate?

If he did not learn how ruthless, partisan and generally disfunctional the right wing is, then he is either on their side or literally oblivious to reality...which is it?
 
 
+16 # ithinktoomuch 2012-07-11 10:56
This op-ed piece is great, but there are a few elements of it that I wish were different. I wish that "European-style socialism" was explained a little better, as well as American socialisms such as public schools, roads, police, fire protection, and military. He did a very good job educating us on what totalitarian socialism is like, but not enough effort hammering home the contrasts between ours, Europe's, and the Communist Bloc's.
 
 
+10 # paulrevere 2012-07-11 13:08
No...what he did was do a very good job of describing TOTALITARIANISM ...he makes no mention of ANY socialist programs.
 
 
+11 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 15:42
A reference at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_democracy

Basically, there is a continuum with a few 'bright lines' that describe who owns the means of production, who controls production and what is done with the earnings, and what the path to true workplace democracy is.

European 'socialism' generally means social democracy -- a people oriented system still operating under a fundamentally capitalist system, where regulations limit what the owners can do and ensure more equity in economics and sharing wealth.

Democratic socialism is more towards communism, with a greater share of the means of production owned and controlled by the people and workers, and so is more democratic in terms of work, production and the economy (as well as the politics which such control confers).

Socialism itself is often thought of as an interim stage between capitalism and true communism where all the means of production is in the publicly held commons and financial, production, and economic decisions are made by the societal collective, for the benefit of every person and society as a whole. This is most 'radical' or 'revolutionary' position since it goes to the root of the economic system and requires fundamental changes in organization of economic life.
 
 
+2 # paulrevere 2012-07-11 20:12
pretty clear description to me...tks.
 
 
0 # Activista 2012-07-12 18:06
"Democratic socialism is more towards communism" - great academic definitions - now please tell where/when this ideology was realized without censorship, political prisoners, free press?
 
 
+24 # tomshwag 2012-07-11 11:14
What we are seeing today is not socialism by any means. What we have is state capitalism at best, fascism at worst.
 
 
+11 # readerz 2012-07-11 11:14
While the neo-cons equate socialism with both communism and fascism, they forget that the founders of our nation changed laws so that there would be "justice for all." Police are paid for by our government, not by private citizens who want justice; this entire idea of society paying for private needs of citizens is strictly American, and it leads towards liberty, not away from it. Abuses can happen, and that is why the government is supposed to have checks and balances: three branches of government keeping each other in check, and that isn't perfect either. But certainly nothing at all in any of Obama's term could be considered communist or fascist: there would have to be much more wide-spread abuse for that. And where there is even a bit of abuse, it is our job as citizens to speak out and stop it, but that is another proof that we are not either communist or fascist: we still can speak out.
 
 
+8 # fliteshare 2012-07-11 18:26
Unless your name is Julian Assange ?
 
 
+12 # DurangoKid 2012-07-11 11:51
Can anyone tell me just exactly what a socialist is? Is there any agreed upon definition? Is it like being a christian? There's quite a divergence there. Same with socialism? Czechoslovakia may have claimed to be socialist just as America claims to be a democracy. In the main, neither proposition is true and the terms lose their meaning.
 
 
+8 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 14:49
Look up the Wikipedia entry for a half decent overview, but there is no *exact* answer.

And look at the socialist party web sites such as

http://socialistparty-usa.org/principles.html

http://www.socialequality.com/about/socialism

http://socialistworker.org/where-we-stand

There are variations, maybe comparable to those of Christianity, but there are common stands.
Basically it's about a democratic system for people instead of money, 'business', and plutocracy.
 
 
0 # Activista 2012-07-12 18:21
"There are variations, maybe comparable to those of Christianity .."
socialism is ideology - religion ... great academic cafe discussion -
Marx - Dictatura of Proletariat - political power to be held by the majority working class - IS TOTALITARIAN by definition.
BTW NEOCONS are mostly ex-Marxists.
 
 
+3 # fliteshare 2012-07-11 18:38
Socialism:= "Distribution of the resources on the basis of NEED". It is an ECONOMIC doctrine and stands perpendicular (not opposite) to
Capitalism:= "Distribution of the resources on the basis of MERIT".

See Karl Marx "Das Kapital".
 
 
+4 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-12 02:46
Capitalism is not a meritocracy. How much a person gets depends not on what he contributes, but on ow much money or power he has. Really -- do the rich banksters merit the tens or hundreds of millions they have? I don't think so...
 
 
+13 # John Escher 2012-07-11 12:05
Is Mr. Foreman's good sense too complex for Americans to follow? How dumbed down can we be?

There is Marxism, Fascism, Socialism, Capitalism, Republicanism in two different political parties-- five different things.

But Marxism and Socialism are far apart. And Marxism, Fascism and Republicanism are close together.

Best governments in the world: A balance of socialism and capitalism. Has there ever been or will there ever be a totally capitalist or Marxist country suitable for human habitation? Which country, pray tell, and where?

"All private enterprise" is a sexual fantasy of Christian Grey and Willard Romney.
 
 
+7 # engelbach 2012-07-11 13:10
Well, there's never really been a Marxist country. After Lenin's death, Stalinism became the model, which of course resulted in "communism" and "totalitarianis m" being equated.

Neither Marx nor Lenin believed in totalitarianism , but in socialist democracy.
 
 
+3 # Loupbouc 2012-07-11 16:22
You need to read more and better history concerning Lenin. He was a fascist of the most vicious kind. His goals & methods would have made Marx cringe. Quite designedly, Lenin imposed a totalitarian quasi-slavery, which he "justified" with the assertion that Russia's great masses were too uneducated and stupid to be able to appreciate and realize socialism and needed to be forced, even violently, to work as if slaves to build Russia and its economy enough to support the masses' indoctrination into becoming a socialist proletariat.
 
 
+3 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 19:30
Lenin seems to have the mistake of the 'ends justifying the means', but another importnat factor to consider is that Russia, and the revolution, were under constant external attacks, as well as from the White Army. The US and other Western powers invaded Russia after the revolution -- and capitalist countries still invade or otherwise work to destroy any socialistic or communistic nations, especially when they suceed, because they set a 'good example' (as has been stated at various times by US leaders). The danger is not that they will take over the wolrd by military or nefarious means, but that other nations would see how well they work when the people get real democracy, including in production and the economy, and people in other nations would want to do that too. That's the idea behind those who argue for 'permanent revolution' -- that unless the whole world has moved beyond capitalism they will never be left alone to just live their lives in socialism as they want to.
 
 
+3 # fliteshare 2012-07-11 18:57
Marxism is adhering to Karl Marx's advice for the working class by obtaining the "means of production" through violent revolution if necessary (commonly referred to as "Class Warfare").
It is a founding principle for Communism and the absolute philosophical opposite of Fascism.

So you need to adjust you understanding here.
 
 
+4 # Bigfella 2012-07-11 21:02
Australia was once considered "Socialist" up to 1970's the the CIA changed that!Now we are CAPITALIST! and not very happy either since we court the Americian illness..
 
 
+11 # MidwestTom 2012-07-11 12:07
With Homeland Security ordering 450 Million rounds of HOLLOW POINT bullets, and the TSA building large concentration camp sites; and it now a Feloney to hold a protest sign within 100 feet of someone protected by the Secret Service, if this a near dictatorship, I do not know what is. When Veterans are considered potential terrorist. This looks more and more like Russia in the early 1930's.
 
 
+8 # paulrevere 2012-07-11 13:11
good description of TOTALITARIANISM .
 
 
+5 # fliteshare 2012-07-11 18:59
When they are done it will look exactly like Nazi Germany, only with computers.
 
 
+12 # pernsey 2012-07-11 12:08
Socialist is a term the GOP and the Fox news crew likes to throw around and the true socialists are the GOP itself. In my opinion the true filth is what the republicans are doing, by blocking anything for people and jumping through hoops to pass any and all for the rich and corporations and using our money to do it. They will block it all good or bad and then blame Obama, its really idiom at its finest.

Theres the real crime!
 
 
+4 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 14:51
GOP are polar opposites of socialist. You don't know what socialism is, obviously.
 
 
+8 # fliteshare 2012-07-11 19:03
Take it from a Socialist, the GOP aren't Socialists AT ALL. They are the opposite to anything Socialism stands for. Look for their friends in the Fascist camp.
 
 
+19 # noodles 2012-07-11 12:30
To jinattrell,

That is called buying the lies of Fox News and right wing radio hacks. We no longer have news organizations in this country. We lived in England, for five years, recently and I truly miss BBC. - and while I'm at it, the National Health Service is fantastic.
 
 
+9 # wleming 2012-07-11 12:58
yes, the english system is miles beyond what they grudgingly provide here...at greater expense. we have no media: and the result is in the koch brothers favor.
 
 
+14 # deadhead 2012-07-11 12:52
I feel very heartily for Mr Forman. Unfortunately Communist Russia was not Socialism . . . it was called that but it was brutal totalitarianism , with more of a right wing,fascist bent than a truly Socialist lean. There really has not been a true Socialist government on the earth, because of mankind's inherent inability to share. We teach our first graders to share, but after that, it's every man & woman for themselves. The closest thing to true Socialism is the Scandinavian form. So calling Soviet communism socialism is extremely misleading and misses the point. The oligarchs (they are operating strongly in America right now) took everything and anointed themselves a privileged class (hmmm). THAT was Soviet Communism. Mr Forman is correct in that Obama is nowhere near that and is, in fact, nowhere near true Socialism either. He is a pragmatic centrist. The Republicans hate him - viscerally -- for different reasons.
 
 
+8 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 14:55
The USSR was not even communism. Communism was more like the early Israeli kibbutzes, various religious communes, Mondragon in Spain, or worker owned and operated businesses in the US. Communism is democracy in the workplace with worker control over production and what is done with the value they create.
 
 
+11 # Mainiac 2012-07-11 12:52
This piece is a joke on two levels. First of all, Obama, as others have pointed out, is not a socialist. Obamacare is a boon to the capitalists, the insurance companies in this case. Second, the regimes that Forman describes are not socialist or communist. They are fascist. Many people around the world live in countries that are often called democracies but they are ruled by dictators who conduct fraudulent elections.
 
 
+10 # wleming 2012-07-11 12:57
mr. foreman equates socialism with the marxist leninist experiment.. yet there were all kinds of socialist experiments.... look at scandanavia.... thats socialism in action.. and they hate that here. this is a corporate capitalist state, a fact of which mr. foreman need not be reminded each time he has to go begging for film funding.
 
 
+13 # Texas Aggie 2012-07-11 13:09
I think that Mr. Forman misses some of the point. The right wing is well aware of what a state controlled totalitarian dictatorship would be like. It is their wet dream. It's why they impose more and more restrictions on the way people can vote, on their sex relations, give more power to police to harass poor people, outlaw efforts to feed homeless people, institute controls on all types of behavior, forcibly attack peaceful demonstrations and spy on people who protest, and the list goes on and on. They would dearly love to have a system like that where the elite (them) would impose their life style on everyone else.

The ancient Greeks recognized the pattern that the right wing is trying to impose even now.

"A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side": Aristotle
 
 
-2 # Michael_K 2012-07-11 13:27
Please... would the erudite and distinguished forum members who gave me all those dyspeptic thumbs down, deign to enlighten me by listing any significant differences between Obama and Dick Cheney (actions/deeds. .. not rhetoric or skin colour)
 
 
+5 # cordleycoit 2012-07-11 13:41
It takes someone from outside the system to see where it is going astray. We are so undereducated that Americans cannot differentiate between the law of the jungle, socialism, social justice and good old communism.
Obama is a right wing liberal a neo liberal machine guy who will go along with the banker and the economists as they attempt to reestablish rule over an out of control greed epidemic.Health care is simply a system that will work as poorly as the insurance industry dictates.Obama might turn out to be the next Nixon not the next Lenin. America start educating our children.
 
 
+9 # David Starr 2012-07-11 14:21
Yes, Milos Foreman comes from Czechoslovakia, and yeah, he can provide at least some accurate info on the workings and nonworkings of his former country. But, his resentment does show enough to the point of sounding like a member of the John Birch Society. An entity like this among the Right wind up lump certain isms together, whether they are ideologically different or not; or if they're mortal enemies or not. Given the Cold War cliches Forman uses in his piece, of course given the topic,it would be published by a senior, status quo member of a "free and objective U.S. media," I seriously question Forman's outlook as being totally "objective" regarding the political/and otherwise, "landscape," there. Understandably, he makes a crucial mistake in using the terms Communism, Socialism, Marxism, Leninism, etc. in association with what was a tsarist/feudal- like deformity, i.e., Stalinism, since the terms have been lumped together as Cold War epithets. Communism hasn't really existed as a fully developed society at all; this would be impossible in current history since it's an epoch, something that evolves gradually through history. Many people, and I assume Forman, don't bother to dissect these isms, regarding basic principles and cause and effect, untangling them, especially from Stalinism. 5) A reexamination is needed to take an indepth look at these ideas, or gross ignorance will especially continue from among the U.S. masses. (Contd)
 
 
+14 # Bill Clements 2012-07-11 14:41
Republicans are thoroughly in love with unfettered capitalism, oblivious, apparently, to the obscene inequalities it produces. The financial crisis of 2008 can be attributed to capitalism's faults: corrupt greed, a lack of necessary regulations, a denial of the fact of limited resources, etc.

How would Republicans fair under socialism? Not at all well because many simply do not possess a concern and empathy for their fellow man. In their dog-eat-dog world, it's strictly survival of the fittest. Everyone else? Well, they're on their own.
 
 
+7 # David Starr 2012-07-11 14:49
(Contd) While we're at it, we should reexamine the meanings of freedom, democracy, liberty, and equality. In another untangling, this time the above words would be separated from Capitalism,give n its nature.

Finally, I knew a co-worker from Czechoslovakia working in New Haven, CT. I talked to her one day about her country. She said that she didn't have a problem there regarding "repression," saying this in a matter-of-fact manner. She worked, studied, socialized, etc. But she added that maybe those who had trouble were maybe from the politcal Right. (Given the Rights' basic agenda worldwide, assisted by the World Bank and IMF, etc, of trying to impose austerity, social cuts and deregulation, with the resulting disasterous consequences,; and worse, knowing this is happening but looking away because of an extreme fetish for money, I'm not really concerned with the Right's rights,i.e., the "rights" to be parasitical and predatory. Forman's comments, although reflecting at least some truths, don't provide an intelligent way of understanding the topics, especially when not knowing a distintion between Stalinism and the other ideas. It's time not only to abandon Stalinism, but ignorant, reactionary anticommunism.
 
 
0 # Activista 2012-07-12 18:40
"I knew a co-worker from Czechoslovakia working in New Haven, CT. I talked to her one day about her country. She said that she didn't have a problem there regarding "repression,"
I escaped CSSR in 1968 - 23year old student - before Soviet Invasion - till 1989 it was TOTALITARIAN state - much worse for most intellectuals than Milos Forman - he was privileged - allowed to study. Marx recipe for Dictatura of the proletariat ranks with Mein Kampf.
Marx was genius in analyzing capitalism, but under his dictatura MOST of contributors here would be in GULAG.
 
 
0 # David Starr 2012-07-14 11:15
Activista,

It would be interesting if Alexander Dubcec (wrong spelling) was successful in implementing "Socialism with a human face." But with the Cold War raging, both sides must have been thinking, "If you give an inch, they'll take a yard." The U.S. has been a pro at invasions, probably more than the USSR. Take a look at a chronology of U.S. invasions. Too many are too suspect. Totalitarianism sure is an all-incompassin g word akin to all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, all-supreme, etc. And they naturally describe characteristics within monothiestic religions, precisely because of its historical roots. "Heretics" in the Inquisition found that out: arrest, show trial, torture, execution. The Dictatorship of the Proletariat is another way of saying that after a successful revolution, inevitably there is counterrevoluti on and outside invasion, just what happened in the 20th century with revolutions or "winning" elections that were idelogical threats to capital. Thus, this different dictatorship would be a phase to crackdown for survival and in turn try to establish stability and security for a country to implement an alternative system. Of course, with that there's shades of gray. I highly doubt Marx envisioned a dictatorship of the kind that Stalin eventually imposed. In fact, Marx and myself would have probably been labeled "enemies of the people" under Stalin; then the gulag and usually execution. Stalin imposed the Dictatorship of the "Great Stalin."
 
 
+1 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-11 15:01
Anyone who wants to understand what socialism and communism REALLY means would do well to soak up some of the material from Dr. Rick Wolff -- rdwolff.com -- who has been teaching the economics of this at major universities all his life. He is also an excellent source for understanding what is happening to the economy now.
 
 
+1 # Bill Clements 2012-07-12 15:42
I appreciate the link to Richard Wolff. It's obvious that this is a complex topic. Even you admit, in response to another poster, that coming up with an exact definition for socialism is problematic.
 
 
+6 # Loupbouc 2012-07-11 16:06
The article's author wrote:

"A couple of hours later, Mr. Kunasek was awakened again, this time by three plainclothes policemen. He was arrested, accused of sheltering a terrorist and sentenced to several years of hard labor in uranium mines. The state seized his property. When he was finally released, ill and penniless, he died within a few weeks. Years later we learned that the night visitor had been working for the police. According to the Communists, Mr. Kunasek was a class enemy and deserved to be punished."

That paragraph describes also experiences of innocent US citizens "detained" by the Bush Administration and also by the Obama Administration.

The author suggests that "Marxist-Lenini st" government is (was) totalitarian (brutal). The proposition is false. Soviet "communism" was a form of fascism — Leninist-Stalin ist, not Marxist. It was not a government that Marx intended or would have approved, but, rather, that Marx would have inveighed against ferociously.

The world bears perhaps just one society that resembles Marxist-communi st (a society Marx would not have imagined fitting for realization of his economic philosophy. That society is that of the remaining still-tradition al bands of the Kalahari Bushman people. They have no rules but practice Marx's central objective, an utterly empathic goal — from each according to each's ability, to each according to each's need.
 
 
+1 # Activista 2012-07-11 23:29
Your analysis as bad as extreme right calling NAZISM - left, socialist movement.
"Why Nazism Was Socialism and Why Socialism Is Totalitarian"
mises.org/daily/1937/
 
 
+13 # tomo 2012-07-11 16:37
Obama isn't a socialist, but he does believe in corporate welfare. In 2009, he signed off on a no-strings government (read: tax-payer guaranteed) bailout for our largest and most despicably gamed financial institutions--A IG, Bank of America, Goldman-Sachs, Wells Fargo--that meant the largest transfer of assets from main-street and from your wallet to Wall Street in American history. If people understood what he did then, he would not now be a viable candidate. He's not going to mention what he did because we wouldn't like it; and his Republican critics aren't going to mention what he did because they got all the money. I'd really much prefer Obama WERE a socialist than the kind of slick inside player he's turned out to be.
 
 
0 # fliteshare 2012-07-11 18:18
Sometimes too times too doesn't add up like befour.

The point of this article is definitely propaganda and therefore fake. And it is also cynically targeted at an easily deceived American audience.
Let me explain:
This article uses Communism and Socialism interchangeably . Which is based on a common American misconception.
However:
Communism is a POLITICAL doctrine, defined (by Lenin himself) as "diktatur of the Proletariat (working class)".
And Socialism is an ECONOMIC doctrine explained in Karl Marx's Das Kapital as "distribution of the resources on the basis of NEED".

Even the most dimwitted Eastern European would NOT have confused the two. But apparently Mr Milos Forman deems it all of a sudden politically expedient to muddy the discussion.

For your information the economic goals of Obama are helping the US economy along towards (neo)Feudalism. And his political (in)actions contain all the hallmarks of Fascism (diktatur of the corporations or Corporatism : Mussolini).

Oh and before I forget.
I proclaim myself Socialist and proudly so, but feel grievously insulted by having my economic views demeaned with biased Obama associations. Unlike me, Obama doesn't claim himself to be Socialist nor have his actions warranted such compliment. It is Americans that need to learn the proper meaning of scientifically defined, but still English, words.
 
 
0 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-12 03:10
Communism is a POLITICAL doctrine, defined (by Lenin himself) as "diktatur of the Proletariat (working class)".
And Socialism is an ECONOMIC doctrine explained in Karl Marx's Das Kapital as "distribution of the resources on the basis of NEED"."

Except when Communism mean an economic system and socialism means a political system -- and those meanings are also used. But then, there is social politics and political economy -- but I'm not sure if these are still current terms. It gets rather muddy, and different socialist or communist groups have different ideas. NeoMarxism was introduced just to confuse things further. LOL

Totalitarianism has no legitimacy in any of this thinking though, and I'll take the position that trying to bring about socialism or Marxism through despotism is like trying to bomb a country into democracy.

I tend towards anarcho-sociali sm: bottom up revolution by educated people -- self-educated mostly, and through self-organizati on. I don't think Americans have the knowledge or the social and political sophistication to accomplish much now: they have been propagandized and dumbed down too much, to the point where resist learning anything or doing critical thinking. It's worse then with the illiterate Russian peasantry because Americans are convinced they know things they don't.
 
 
0 # Salus Populi 2012-07-12 08:05
Quote:
I don't think Americans have the knowledge or the social and political sophistication to accomplish much now: they have been propagandized and dumbed down too much, to the point where resist learning anything or doing critical thinking. It's worse then with the illiterate Russian peasantry because Americans are convinced they know things they don't.
Very well said. And the more they are propagandized, the more they think they know, and the less accurate is their map of reality.
 
 
0 # Michael_K 2012-07-13 14:45
Quoting Salus Populi:
Quote:
I don't think Americans have the knowledge or the social and political sophistication to accomplish much now: they have been propagandized and dumbed down too much, to the point where resist learning anything or doing critical thinking. It's worse then with the illiterate Russian peasantry because Americans are convinced they know things they don't.


Very well said. And the more they are propagandized, the more they think they know, and the less accurate is their map of reality.
You are 100% correct, and the dumbing down continues apace!
 
 
0 # Selwick 2012-07-12 15:25
[quote name="bluepilgrim"
I don't think Americans have the knowledge or the social and political sophistication to accomplish much now: they have been propagandized and dumbed down too much, to the point where resist learning anything or doing critical thinking. It's worse then with the illiterate Russian peasantry because Americans are convinced they know things they don't.

Yes, indeed! Very well put bluepilgrim.

Most Americans don’t know anything about socialism, communism or Western European social democracies. Most Americans could barely find Europe on a map, let alone tell what countries constituted the Soviet Union and its satellite nations.

Here is my strategy when I’m talking to these kinds of people. Happens all the time because there are so many.
If they say Obama is a socialist or wants to establish socialism in this country I ask them to explain what makes Obama a socialist or what are the indicators of a looming socialist society. (Not in these complicated words of course).
I found that you cannot teach these people or prove that they are wrong; you can just show them that they don’t have a clue.
 
 
+2 # jwb110 2012-07-12 07:50
Marx believed that we could wipe out social inequities and Lenin tested those ideas on the Soviet Union. It was his dream to create a classless society. But reality set in, as it always does. And the results were devastating. Blood flowed through Russia’s streets. The Soviet elite usurped all privileges; sycophants were allowed some and the plebes none. The entire Eastern bloc, including Czechoslovakia, followed miserably.
All you have to do is change a few names in the above scenario and you get to see exactly what it now looks like in the US. American citizens are spied upon by their own Gov't. People end up in rendition prisons and the right habeas corpus disappears for all but the wealthy. We have socialism for the rich and surpression of the people who must support them at their whim. For those who call the GOP/TP Nazis had best reacquaint themselves with the old Soviet Union and see that the real parallels to what is happening in the US are there.
 
 
0 # RobertMStahl 2012-07-12 09:07
He may not be a socialist, but he is a war criminal.

Drones
Paraguay (UNASUR)
The de-evolution of the nation-state

Where have you been, Milos, in the clouds?
 
 
+2 # bluepilgrim 2012-07-12 11:19
Libya
 
 
+2 # Activista 2012-07-12 19:02
Marx: Das Capital - Kritik der politischen Ökonomi - of 19 century - almost 200 years ago - bible for some.
Dictatorship of the proletariat refers to a socialist state in which the proletariat, or the working class, has control of political power.
Both Marx and Engels argued that the short-lived Paris Commune, which ran the French capital for three months before being repressed, was an example of the dictatorship of the proletariat?
 
 
0 # Salus Populi 2012-07-12 19:38
Not to absolve Obomber in any way, but every president from either political gang since WWII has committed crimes against humanity. It seems to kind of go with the territory.

Perhaps it's time to dispense with the niceties of our vain self image, and just frankly own up to being a sociopathic nation, a land of murder and thievery. At every inauguration of a new president, the Elect (how God-like, the president ELECT) should pick a small child out of the crowd of well wishers, at random, and behead the child with a dull knife, to show that s/he's wo/man enough for the job.
 
 
0 # davehaze 2012-07-13 10:02
I have an acquaintance in NYC who grew up in the Soviet Union. He says he reads the NY Times the same way he read Pravda: not believing a word of it but extrapolating the real news by what was not being reported.

As for Milos Foreman I like his movies but was this an honest mistake equating our wishy-washy corporations-fi rst socialism with Eastern Bloc Stalin-Lenin Communism? That is as equally absurd as calling Obama a socialist.
 
 
0 # josephhill 2012-07-13 15:49
Quoting fliteshare:
Unless your name is Julian Assange ?

-----------------------------------------------

...or Bradley Manning....or Prometheus for that matter.
 
 
0 # josephhill 2012-07-13 16:02
Capitalism is incompatible with both democracy AND Christianity
 

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