Misinformed about history, economics

In Bill Greenwood’s letter of Nov. 23, he seems to be somewhat confused or perhaps misinformed about some basic history and economics. He also seems to have entirely missed the point of my letter of Nov. 20, which was that in a liberal democracy like Canada’s, we value tolerance, diversity and debate. Liberal democracies must, by their very nature, have a high tolerance for dissent. To diminish these values weakens our democracy and potentially leads us down a dark path.

Re: Stephan completely justified in condemning socialism, Nov. 23, letter to the editor

In Bill Greenwood’s letter of Nov. 23, he seems to be somewhat confused or perhaps misinformed about some basic history and economics. He also seems to have entirely missed the point of my letter of Nov. 20, which was that in a liberal democracy like Canada’s, we value tolerance, diversity and debate. Liberal democracies must, by their very nature, have a high tolerance for dissent. To diminish these values weakens our democracy and potentially leads us down a dark path.

Hitler’s extreme right wing reactionary Nazi Party was responsible for the Death Camps of the Second World War. Stalin and his extreme radical left wing Soviet Communist Party were responsible for the purges of the 1930s and the Gulags of Siberia. To suggest, as Greenwood does in his letter, that any democratic socialist party or nation had anything whatsoever to do with these crimes against humanity is not only wrong, it is mean-spirited. Just because Hitler and Stalin sometimes used the word “socialist” does not make them socialists. What Mr. Greenwood seems to be attempting to do in his letter is to lump three very different ideologies together and paint them with the same broad brush of contempt. That contempt is certainly justified when it comes to Stalin’s and Mao’s versions of communism and Hitler’s fascism, but to put socialists in the same company is unfair and demonstrates an extremely biased perspective of history and political science.

On a similar topic, just because people like Rush Limbaugh continually proclaim that Barack Obama is socialist, that does not make Obama a socialist. If one was to accept that skewed line of reasoning, one might have to classify our own Stephen Harper as a communist. This kind of silly rhetoric reminds one of McCarthyism with its unfortunate and unsubstantiated name calling, fear mongering, indiscriminate accusations, black-listing and hatred.

For anyone who has trouble with these distinctions, I would like to suggest that they learn more about political science rather than to rewrite history and distort ideologies. They might discover that there are some very significant differences between socialists, communists and fascists, and their agenda concerning citizens of a nation.

Mr. Greenwood also makes the questionable assertion that “virtually all historians” feel the Great Depression was extended or made worse by “intense meddling in the economy by the Roosevelt administration.” Actually, if one was to do more than just superficial research on the topic and using just about any source other than Fox News, they would likely find that in reality there is a fair bit of disagreement and debate on that particular subject. They would also probably find that while Roosevelt’s New Deal programs and the regulations put into place by the Roosevelt administration did not immediately end the Great Depression, they eased the suffering of millions, provided much needed hope to the nation, and helped set the stage for a generation of prosperity. As I’m sure Mr. Greenwood knows, it was actually massive government spending during and after the Second World War that helped to finally end the depression and helped to rebuild Europe after the war. Ironically Mr. Greenwood also does not mention that many writers, from Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman all the way to H. Paul Jeffers, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Great Depression, all assert that the New Deal actually “saved capitalism.”

I would like to suggest that people educate themselves fully before spewing ideological-biased propaganda rather than engaging in reasoned debate. That is, of course, if they are not afraid of “socialist agendas” that might burst their ideological bubbles.

Mike Falkenberg

Red Deer