Defining Our Terms

Bernie Sanders says he’s a Democratic Socialist, and that doesn’t seem to bother the young folks who support him–although it certainly scandalizes a lot of older Americans. Of course, as a friend of mine recently noted, no one–young or old– seems to know what a “Democratic Socialist” or just a garden-variety socialist is–or how socialism differs from either capitalism or communism, for that matter.

Why am I not surprised? After all, Americans long since stopped using labels to communicate information; we just throw them at each other as insults.

Economic terminology is yet another part of those civic literacy deficits I keep talking about–deficits I addressed in my ebook Talking Politics? What You Need to Know Before You Open Your Mouth. (Shameless plug: it’s cheap–under $5 from Georgetown University Press.) I promised my friend that I’d share what I wrote there:

Socialism is the collective provision of goods and services. The decision whether to pay for certain services collectively rather than leaving their production and consumption to the free market can be based upon a number of factors. First, there are some goods that free markets cannot or will not produce. Economists call them public goods, and define them as both “non-excludable” –meaning that individuals who haven’t paid for them cannot be effectively kept from using them—and “non-rivalrous,” meaning that use by one person does not reduce the availability of that good to others. Examples of public goods include fresh air, knowledge, lighthouses, national defense, flood control systems and street lighting. If we are to have these goods, they must be supplied by the whole society, usually through government, and paid for with tax dollars.

Not all goods and services that we provide collectively are public goods. Policymakers have often based decisions to socialize services on other considerations: we socialize police and fire protection because doing so is generally more efficient and cost-effective, and because most of us believe that limiting such services only to people who can afford to pay for them would be immoral. We socialize garbage collection in more densely populated urban areas in order to enhance the livability of our cities and to prevent disease transmission.

Getting the “mix” right between goods that we provide collectively and those we leave to the free market is important, because too much socialism hampers economic health. Just as unrestrained capitalism can become corporatism, socializing the provision of goods that the market can supply reduces innovation and incentives to produce. During the 20th Century, many countries experimented with efforts to socialize major areas of their economies, and even implement socialism’s extreme, communism, with uniformly poor results. Not only did economic productivity suffer, so did political freedom. (When governments have too much control over the means of production and distribution, they can easily become authoritarian.)

Virtually all countries today have mixed economies. The challenge is getting the right balance between socialized and free market provision of goods and services.

In our highly polarized politics today, words like Socialism, Fascism and Communism are used more as insults than descriptions. There are numerous disagreements about the essential characteristics of these systems, probably because the theories underlying them were so different from the actual experiences of those who tried them.

Socialism may be the least precise of these terms. It is generally applied to mixed economies where the social safety net is much broader and the tax burden is correspondingly higher than in the U.S.—Scandinavian countries are an example.

Communism begins with the belief that equality is defined by equal results; this is summed up in the well-known adage “From each according to his ability; to each according to his needs.” All property is owned communally, by everyone (hence the term “communism”). In practice, this meant that all property was owned by the government, ostensibly on behalf of the people. In theory, communism erases all class distinctions, and wealth is redistributed so that everyone gets the same share. In practice, the government controls the means of production and most individual decisions are made by the state. Since the quality and quantity of work is divorced from reward, there is less incentive to innovate or produce, and ultimately, countries that have tried to create a communist system have collapsed (the USSR) or moved toward a more mixed economy (China).

Fascism is sometimes called “national Socialism,” but it differs significantly from socialism. The most striking aspect of fascist systems is the elevation of the nation—a fervent nationalism is central to fascist philosophy. There is a union between business and the state; although there is nominally private property, government controls business decisions. Fascist regimes tend to be focused upon a (glorious) past, and to uphold traditional class structures and gender roles as necessary to maintain the social order.

Three elements commonly identified with Fascism are 1) a national identity fused with racial/ethnic identity and concepts of racial superiority; 2) rejection of civil liberties and democracy in favor of authoritarian government; and 3) aggressive militarism. Fascism has been defined by this radical authoritarian nationalism, with fascists seeking to unify the nation through the elevation of the state over the individual, and the mass mobilization of the national community through discipline, indoctrination, and physical training. Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy are the most notable examples of Fascist regimes.

Hope that helps.

35 thoughts on “Defining Our Terms

  1. National Socialism was never meant to be SOCIALIST. The term was inserted into the fascist BRANDING in order to give credence to attacking the Jewish money capitalists. The Nazis only attacked the Jewish capitalists and their association to the banking interests. There was no opposition to the industrial capitalist who were, except for a few exceptions, non-Jews.

    Today, a good example of the latter would be the Koch Brothers: pro-Fascist, non-Jewish industrial capitalists.

  2. Many many years ago, I took Economics classes on several different campuses — both undergraduate and graduate level — and they all started the same way. The professor would say something like, ‘as you know, in America, we have a “mixed” economy’ and then proceed to explain that term and all of the actors. Now that I am much older, I have realized that most people do not have the first clue as to what that term means. I would wager that if all American spent just one day studying Economics and specifically that term, or political arguments would move considerably forward. And the role of government would be better understood.

  3. Here is a link to a good history of Socialism as well as the types of Socialism. I would note that this article’s definition of Democratic Socialism is more extreme than Bernie’s. I would say Bernie’s Democratic Socialism more closely matches what this article calls Social Democracy.

    http://www.philosophybasics.com/branch_socialism. html

  4. patmcc,

    “So I guess the Republicans are Goose Stepping towards Fascism. Almost there. YIKES.”

    You’re so right. They’re just one presidential election away from achieving their goal.

  5. No country can survive as strictly one ism or another. The only true communists are cloistered Catholic nuns (not sisters). Since they never joined the party, they were never called before HUAC or McCarthy. 😉

  6. This is a wonderful article. Posting it to Facebook in hopes that many will read it and refresh their memories.

  7. Gal,

    “I would say Bernie’s Democratic Socialism more closely matches what this article calls Social Democracy. ”

    SOCIAL DEMOCRACY is a party BRAND in many European countries. Good examples would be the Social Democratic Parties in Germany, Sweeden, Norway, Ireland et al. Their platforms would very similar to what Bernie Sanders calls DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM. Since Bernie Sanders is running for President as a DEMOCRAT, if he branded himself as a social democrat he could be charged with promoting a different political party than the Democratic Party. That might be one good reason why he stays away from the word: social democracy.

  8. …so you talk about all these negative connotations, define a couple words loosely, but never even bother to define a “Democratic Socialist” (despite your implication this was your goal):

    “Democratic socialism is a political system wherein there is democratic control of a socialist economic system. It thus combines political democracy with social ownership of significant elements of the means of production.”

    Tada, I did your job since you didn’t.

  9. Dr. Kennedy, you plugged your book (Talking Politics?….) so I will plug mine (The Good Road Home). In the latter, the agrarian and community influences of time and place on the people living in rural Indiana from pre-historic to contemporary times are explored through poems and short stories. There seems to be a role for understanding where we have been and where we may be going through our stories. Those stories can also provide strong insights regarding the impact of economic and social changes, and how people push back and adapt to such changes. Perhaps, given the 20th century framework in which many of our ideas regarding socialism, capitalism, and other isms are still considered, perhaps we could meet and have a book prisoner exchange. But since my book costs more (and I could make a subjective capitalist argument as to why) we would have to negotiate that point. We could do an East-West thing and meet at the middle of a bridge spanning the White River, which would seem appropriate in Indiana, for the exchange, or perhaps over a cup of coffee, where we as humans could be more assured of asserting our control over the environment.

  10. As Bernie Sanders has said repeatedly Democratic Socialism, does not mean the State owns the corner grocery. The State does have the right and obligation to use laws and regulations to make certain the grocery store follows accepted hygiene practices and manufacturers are expected to label their food as to content.

    I would agree 100% with Bernie Sanders that Health Care should be a Right and not the system of who can afford it that we have now. Medicare for all. The opportunity for a Tuition Free College Education should also be right.

    The simple equation has now been accepted as being authored by a Political Einstein is Liberal=Socialist=Communist=Castro=Stalin=Mao.

  11. John Cardwell. Since we are plugging books this morning, I’ll plug mine, “Lincoln County Stories”. The book contains a series of short stories about a fictitious rural Indiana county during the late 1960s when change comes to that community marking their entry into that turbulent decade. On Kindle.

  12. Good explanations. On a far smaller scale, I toyed with what I call ‘residential socialism’ for four years during my early days in Indianapolis. In other words, I purchased an upscale free-standing detached condominium unit (a patio home) that I believed, at the time, aligned with my lifestyle as a widow who wanted little to do with exterior home maintenance.

    I learned that I’m simply not a condo person. Aside from occasional snow removal and regular lawn care, I considered the ever-increasing condo association fee that topped out at $500+ in less than four years to be extravagant, and I disliked being assessed for and paying for amenities I could not use, such as replacing 12 boat docks when I did not have a deeded boat dock and could only look at the boat docks. I was told that being assessed a large amount of money for boat dock replacement would increase the market value of my unit despite my not having a deeded boat dock.

    Then the condo association as represented by the Board of Directors began behaving in an authoritarian manner, perhaps some would say a fascist manner, making broad sweeping decisions, micromanaging the neighborhood via a small group of purple-haired insiders who scouted the development looking for and reporting the smallest of infractions.

    No, I’m not a condo person and prefer much more independence than joining the herd. I don’t believe I’d enjoy living in an economy of socialism either.

  13. @The Blog

    “We like to believe that our world is regular, that we can predict it fairly well, and that we can control the risks we run. Nassim Taleb argues that we are fooling ourselves and that the course of history is driven by rare and extreme events [which in his book The Black Swans] he calls Black Swans.”

    “Taleb argues that people neither understand the significance of Black Swans nor prepare for them [like Donald Trump and the Tea Party]. Instead, we act as though NAIVE INDUCTION were a valid method and expect regular patterns we see in the past (or impose on it) to continue into the future. There are two problems with this behavior. First, although there often are patterns in the past, they may not continue. We often act like the turkey who sees that everything is fine day after day, never suspecting the surprise on the last Wednesday of November. The fact that we get away with treating risks as low in a series of transactions can easily lead us to conclude that it is safe to continue to play the game; frequently exceeding the speed limit without unfortunate consequences can lead drivers to conclude that they need not worry about either speed limits or the police; multiple instances of surviving crises can lead people to think that these dangerous circumstances are manageable.”

    “Taleb argues that this propensity is compounded by our intellectual shortcomings. Drawing on cognitive psychology, he shows that people are quick to impose a theory, explanation, or narrative on data and events that actually are ambiguous, confusing, and contradictory. In retrospect, anyone with a modicum of imagination and skill can explain ANYTHING THAT HAS HAPPENED, and this gives us UNDUE CONFIDENCE in our ability to understand WHAT WILL HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE. We are very quick to see new information as FITTING IN PATTERNS WE EXPECT, and we significantly OVERESTIMATE our ability to understand, predict, and control our worlds. Furthermore, “experts” do not do much (if any) better than laypeople, and they may be more skilled than anyone at explaining away their past errors, thus preserving their incorrect belief in a regular world and in their ability to comprehend it.”

    “Black Swans in Politics” by Rober Jarvis, Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society, Volume 22, 2010, p. 478.

  14. Theresa; you beat me to plugging your book. I am 64% through “Lincoln County Stories” on my Kindle and enjoying every page. It brings back memories of that era of our history; times change but not always the people living those times. Maybe “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” is truer than we realize until we look back and our own memories are brought to life. Thanks Theresa for completing your work and sharing it. The religious split, the racism and treatment of women in general then and now are alive in your book and as relevant today as they have always been. My favorite chapter so far is “Grandfather”; the sharing of history closes a generation gap and will be familiar to all who read it.

  15. Found a great jpg of socialist entities in the states and wish I could post it here:
    Libraries, Fire Dept, Police, Public Parks, National Parks, PBS, EPA, Social Security, Medicare, Amber Alerts, FBI, the census bureau, public beaches, and the biggest socialist entity in the states is the Military! There are so many more but I think you all get the idea.

  16. Theresa,

    I read the Beginning of “Lincoln County Stories” on the Amazon.com site. Your style is terrific. I’ll definitely be ordering the Kindle edition. It’s an important book.

    JoAnn, among other things, you’re also an excellent book reviewer.

    Maybe we need a “Sheila’s Blog Book Club.” Just kidding.

  17. I had occasion in 1975 to visit a fellow lawyer in Stockholm and decided to play the role of right wing Republican in order to draw out his socialist views. He was a multi-millionaire with a ski resort in the Alps and a beach resort in the Mediterranean at Majorca. I was not a millionaire and was rather what I am now, a liberal Democrat. I said I understood that Swedes paid 50 percent of their income and said, “That’s a little high, isn’t it?” He said, “Well, Jerry, that depends upon what you get for your money.” He then proceeded to set out a litany of what Swedes get for their money spent in taxes and proceeded to persuade me that we are paying higher taxes than the Swedes are paying as measured by what we are getting for our money. I did not become a Socialist as a result of our conversation but did become persuaded that socialism may work in a given society at a given time but fail in others.
    We, of course, have a mixture of socialism (social security etc.) and capitalism (stock market etc.) and the argument is whether we should have more of one or the other. Bernie is a Social Democrat and that has worked well in certain European venues but failed in others. Stock market and Koch Brothers excesses suggest that we should become more socialistic in order to control such anti-democratic outrages, but there is a danger that we will become too controlling and upset the delicate balance of socialist-capitalist mixture in the process of political balancing and counterbalancing in our economy – and these days nobody is sitting down and having civilized conversations – we prefer screaming and insult – not a good time to discuss such important matters. Perhaps after the upcoming election a degree of sanity will return to the populace and we can discuss the direction we want our country to take, how we are to fairly compensate all those involved in our economy, limits of money in influencing elections etc. Perhaps. Let’s hope so.

  18. I had occasion in 1975 to visit a fellow lawyer in Stockholm and decided to play the role of right wing Republican in order to draw out his socialist views. He was a multi-millionaire with a ski resort in the Alps and a beach resort in the Mediterranean at Majorca. I was not a millionaire and was rather what I am now, a liberal Democrat. I said I understood that Swedes paid 50 percent of their income and said, “That’s a little high, isn’t it?” He said, “Well, Jerry, that depends upon what you get for your money.” He then proceeded to set out a litany of what Swedes get for their money spent in taxes and proceeded to persuade me that we are paying higher taxes than the Swedes are paying as measured by what we are getting for our money. I did not become a Socialist as a result of our conversation but did become persuaded that socialism may work in a given society at a given time but fail in others.
    We, of course, have a mixture of socialism (social security etc.) and capitalism (stock market etc.) and the argument is whether we should have more of one or the other. Bernie is a Social Democrat and that has worked well in certain European venues but failed in others. Stock market and Koch Brothers excesses suggest that we should become more socialistic in order to control such anti-democratic outrages, but there is a danger that we will become too controlling and upset the delicate balance of socialist-capitalist mixture in the process of political balancing and counterbalancing in our economy – and these days nobody is sitting down and having civilized conversations – we prefer screaming and insult – not a good time to discuss such important matters. Perhaps after the upcoming election a degree of sanity will return to the populace and we can discuss the direction we want our country to take, how we are to fairly compensate all those involved in our economy, limits of money in influencing elections etc. Perhaps. Let’s hope so.

  19. Marv. And thank you as well. Please do read my stories. It gives me great pleasure to think that others like them as much as I liked writing them.

  20. Theresa,

    Rural Indiana is very similar to North Florida. Like many of my friends when I was growing up, my grandparents had immigrated to North Florida from South Georgia. Through all my many years, Jacksonville has continued to be at its mental core much more rural than urban. It’s a very special place, if you know what I mean.

  21. Marv, I know what you mean. I would be interested to know if you see in your rural communities what I describe in my Indiana rural communities.

  22. Louie makes a good point about words, power, and meaning. George Orwell’s essay, “Politics and the English Language” 2.0.

    Fascism is another word used too carelessly by those of us on the Left with a net that catches mere conservatives. Even at most left-handed I never used it to describe parties and candidates in the U.S. Modern European history taught me better. In the 60’s and 70’s it was abused to describe hawks, kooks, racists, etc., who albeit horribly did not meet the definition. It still is today. But thanks to Trump, I finally heard authentic echos of European fascism, especially Mussolini, in American politics.

    My first clue was when our Adolf look-alike cat, called a “Kitler,” started coming to the TV and PC screens when Trump was speaking about removing nationalities, our nation state and people, and his one-man leadership principle. Within weeks she started standing on her hind legs, raising her right front paw in a fascist salute, and giving a loud, “Meeoww.”

    Perhaps this is my fault because of the name I chose for her. Since she’s a she, I avoided gender identification issues in her youth by eschewing “Adolf” and choosing “Nazi Girl.” My only hope is she thinks The Donald’s comb over is a really big and tempting mouse meal, but her timing with the most authoritarian parts of his speeches dims my hopes.

    So I’ve done what any fan of Woody Allen or David Foster Wallace would do and brought this to the attention of my psychologist in our regular sessions. As things worsened, he recently suggested playing the film about the 1936 Nuremberg Rally with the columns of light and Hitler’s speech and observe “Nazi Girl’s” reaction. Frankly I’m afraid to find out. It might push her over the edge. How do you give up a Kitler cat to an animal shelter with a story like this?
    Explain she is neutered and has all her shots. I think not.

    Apparently her gender issues are cool, but her political problems are frightening. On the other hand, no one ever said cat parenting, especially a Kitler, would be easy. The jury is still out on Cruz Missile and he’s banned from viewing in our house for Nazi’s sake.

  23. In keeping with book recommendation day, here’s an important piece of cultural and historical relevance for those interested in tracing ‘how we act today’ and ‘why we vote the way we do’ from the very earliest permanent migrants to the US, those from the British Isles.

    “Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America” by David Hackett Fischer, the Earl Warren Professor of History at Brandeis University, a recipient of his undergrad degree from Princeton University and his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, charts the migration and the future cultural and political ramifications of four major groups of people from the British Isles from the early 1600’s through the late 1700’s.

    From the first group of British migrants to arrive, the rigidly religious Puritans in Massachusetts, to the Anglican Church/Church of England’s (now Episcopal Church in the US) landed gentry in Virginia, to the socially pluralistic Quakers in the Delaware Valley and Pennsylvania, and finally to the last and the largest group to arrive in the late 1700’s, the backcountry Scots and Irish who settled in an uncannily similar backcountry of the US from the Blue Ridge Mountains, to the Appalachian Mountains, then westward through Kentucky, Tennessee, and then shortly migrated north into Indiana (think Lincoln) and later into Michigan for manufacturing jobs.

    Seriously, for my Hoosier friends, how many folks here in Indiana are remotely considered ‘the landed gentry’ or better yet, how many of your friends will line up and wait to have their offspring accepted by Duke University, the University of Virginia, or the College of William and Mary? And, just how many Episcopal Churches are in your neighborhoods? This is not written to arouse hostility among readers, but rather to point out the cultural differences ingrained in our behaviors from birth as per where we are born and raised, without regard to our country of ancestry.

    After reading “Albion’s Seed”, you may understand that you need not have any British ancestry to have been influenced and still influenced by the social, cultural, and political mores established by one of the four British folkways in the particular region in which you grew up.

    Great book worth reading. A reference book that you’ll keep on a shelf in your home office.

  24. Unbridled greed, with only the rich getting richer, is the result of deregulation allowing Wall Street and all big businesses to run amok over hard working, tax-paying Americans. Democratic Socialism can bring back reasonable regulations to protect us but…will it be retroactive and undo the harm already caused by Bush’s giveaway of billions in 2008 leaving President Obama only gleanings to begin working with?

  25. JoAnn, I’ve got one of those frequently mentioned “hard working, tax-paying Americans” as a son, my younger son, age 28. In fact, his hard work coupled with his skill is rewarded and is recognized by his receiving $27.00 per hour, plus double for overtime, plus full family health insurance benefits w/only a nominal co-pay for doctor visits or for prescription meds. By virtue of his being one of those highly touted, bragged about “hard working, tax paying Americans” mentioned by you and by many, he earned $80,000+ in 2015.

    Now, consider that his and 900+ of his local in-house co-workers’ jobs stand to be eliminated based on a federal government decision that effectively has eliminated the demand for their product. In short, JoAnn, ‘we the people’ did not eliminate the demand, but rather, the government has eliminated the demand via an arbitrary decision with no clearly defined replacement product. Now, go figure.

  26. My daughter-in-law was making $30 per hour at Rolls Royce here in Indy when she and almost 2,000 workers were let go. They were told they could reapply for their old jobs after a period of months…starting salary was minimum wage. Rolls Royce refilled all employment slots, never shut down one day; just arbitrarily destroyed people’s lives. There must be an answer to these destructive tactics by big business but…what the hell is it? Democratic Socialism CAN be a start but is there a viable solution to be found in this country today?

    I got my copy of “Dark Money” yesterday; people are raving about it but, does it only explain the problem (which we know is the controlling 1%) or does it provide possible solutions?

  27. These are not more than words, socio a combining form from French, Latinate spellings in use in societies of humans by 1492 here. Social is simply the adjective form for humans, social animals, etc. It will mean the same translated into any of the modern languages, all contemporary with us every 60 seconds. We read dictionaries in order to see at a glance whole pages of spellings associated by sounds. So some years ago, Indiana social people were famous for Socialists, Eugene Debs, topics of numerous government and economics lectures and assignments.

    An Indiana native son, for example, rode a train to Alaska and met at Seattle, an old ‘wobbly’ from the Workers of the World. That same voter in Washington Township residence, Wayne County, was the ONLY voter for the lone Socialist candidate one year to make the general electorate ballot polls. The word to describe only a human, mammal vital or once vital, was in the first college edition, 1960, which ALL IUB students were prescribed to read for their 1960s courses in languages, spellings for those ‘mechanical’ choices on those content/mechanics’ scores. Our class doctor, not only prescribed the book reading, but made us bring them to class and initial each 100th page while he watched and proctored for recognition himself of our initials. So his lectures could proceed rapidly to the names of the authors of documents, letters, printed works he planned to mention.

    I read, as advised front and back sections by the editors ‘on all the numbered pages.’ Only one page from what he called our first, first edition professional books: The page of proofreaders’ marks for blue pencil, trick the camera work, is the only one missing now. I traded both pages to an ME for a book of American typefaces he had computerized when I worked off-campus in composing for his paper and others, and we all used the book to check the mechanics — not alter the texts or copy for the page prints. I have not yet finished reading any of the dictionaries in our house; my son is now a linguist and still loves to tell me “gullible” is not in this one. At the simplest level, our dictionaries are easy starters.

  28. When I was young what I was taught was that Capitalism was risky and fraught with mischief but could be “fixed” with heaping helpings of competition. Socialism on the other hand was pretty benign but typically eliminated the possibility and benefits of competition. So we should celebrate, where it’s possible to maintain, competition.

    Capitalists, it was further taught, abhor competition. It is the bain of their existence so they, it, must be constantly regulated to maintain what they hate but that which keeps them a public service instead of at an unlimited personal buffet.

    Good, useful knowledge that Capitalists since have tried to unwind by constant though subtle media attacks aimed at the dumbing down of the public in service of their nirvana which is owning the means of production in the absence of meaningful competition.

    We were taught that these attempts would certainly follow but as we the people, if we paid attention, we could use our collective power and wisdom to stifle them.

    Civic literacy as a foundation for liberty. Hmmm, hmm good. Public education vs private dumbing down.

    Of course my dreams of democracy as all powerful have been interrupted by cold dark reality made possible by mass media, especially TV in our homes, now in our pockets and purses. Holy smokes, way more than the camel’s nose is now in our tent.

    I’m sorry kids grandpa fell asleep on his watch and so you must pay the price.

    Or grandpa can get off his Lazy Boy and start kicking butt rather than sitting on one.

    Since then I’ve been doing my share, as have most who post here, of stuffing camel back out of the tent where camels belong. Camels are mighty ornery though and in the the process he’s left behind stinking piles of Trump and Cruz which we now have to clean up without out stopping our camel stuffing.

    Worth every effort even if the net result is only going back to what was and worked.

  29. I personally believe that if one could empty brains onto the dining room table the largest pile of memories would typically be what we each have observed and accumulated of how others who seem like us behave and believe under certain conditions. Culture according to anthropologists.

    A smaller pile would the facts accumulated through education. History and geography and practical science and math and language and lots of other useful stuff captured by others and force fed to us in more or less formal ways.

    Of course the brain is not just memory, it also is an engine of cognition to figure out how to utilize those memories to direct our voluntary muscles into actions from which life emerges and unfolds.

    We like to believe that our actions are based more on education and less on culture but observation of human being behavior suggests otherwise on the average.

    Both the exponentially growing human body of knowledge that’s to be learned and the shrinking diversity of culture suggest that we are ill equipped for the future that none of us are in control of and wonderfully equipped for the past receding behind us.

    Bummer. Good thing that we have both cultural and physical evolution and natural selection to carry our species through changing environment.

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