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Suggestion to Reddit: please consider renaming your "/r/socialism" subreddit "/r/liberalism" for reasons of conceptual accuracy

Although I do not like Reddit, or the kind of self-proclaimed "experts" who hang out on reddit, some of my internet comrades are obsessed with the wonderful world of Reddit and, because of this obsession, I am often more informed of the Reddit universe of stupid than I would otherwise prefer.  And one subreddit that is generally and unfortunately stupid is /r/socialism which I have complained about at numerous points on this blog.

The reason why the "socialism" subreddit is stupid is because the people making up the majority population of the posters and commenters are not socialists, and usually seem rather unaware of what socialism means.  My complaint is not sectarian––it has nothing to do with some maoist nonsense about claiming that a bunch of trotskyists aren't authentic socialists––but conceptual.  The hegemonic consensus of /r/socialism has nothing to do with the actual political and historical definition of socialism.  If you are a welfare capitalist, a reformist who thinks the US should be like Sweden, a mild anti-imperialist who thinks socialism is about some dream of "the founding fathers", or in the case of my social context (Canada) someone who thinks the NDP is a socialist party and that socialism can happen by voting… you are not socialist.  You are a liberal.  Maybe you're a left-leaning liberal, but you are not interested in socialism; you are interested in the historical commitments of liberalism.

Maybe the majority population of /r/socialism is convinced by the mindless rhetoric of the right that reduces the political landscape to conservative versus liberal.  For the brainless American hard right, socialism and liberalism are synonymous despite the fact that, in actual fact, they are different categories of political meaning.  Socialism historically emerged as political category by recognizing the ideological limits of liberalism, by understanding liberalism as the prime ideology of capitalism, and by initiating a politics that rejected the core commitments of liberalism––core commitments, it would seem, that are held by most posters and commenters in the world of /r/socialism.

Look, if the extent of your politics are about arguing whether Obama is the candidate more deserving of your "socialist" support than Ron Paul (or, as is now being argued on /r/socialism, vice versa), then you are not a socialist.  Again: you are a liberal.  Socialism begins by rejecting the Obamas and the Pauls as having nothing to do with its politics.  Sometimes there might be a gap between theory and practice when it comes to this rejection (i.e. "I know it is not socialist to support Obama, but I feel the need to vote for the 'lesser evil'), but in the world of /r/socialism there is a gap between theory and theory.

It's okay, you can admit it––there are a lot of liberals in the world, and liberalism has as many different factions as socialism.  Just as we socialists have our various traditions, you can have yours.  In fact you might be happier realizing that you are a Rawlsian or a Millsian rather than pretending you're a Trotskyist or an anarchist.  So please, for the sake of philosophical clarity, consider changing the name of your subreddit.


  1. I think it says a lot about the apolitical nature of American society that these people can't make these distinctions.


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