We say ‘it’s only semantics’ as if that’s an end to the argument, but come down to it, all of our arguments are semantic, they all relate to words, that abstract representation of real life that gets us through the day. When I say “Have a nice day,” I’m not doing anything to help anybody have a nice day. If I write a poem about a tree, it does not actually have the feel of the bark, or the cooling effect of its shade.
One argument we are trapped in today is ‘Socialism’ vs. ‘Capitalism’ and it’s a totally bogus argument, much like that between ‘big government’ and ‘small government,’ when what we really need is good government.
Both socialism and capitalism have been around a long time, long before anybody hung those labels on them. Capitalism, etymologically, is from caput, Latin for head, as in ‘head of cattle.’ So the word goes back as far as Rome, and the practice probably goes back to whenever people started herding cattle, or goats or whatever, which is a few thousand years even further back.
Socialism, (using the Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez definition) the idea that governments should use the people’s money to do things that benefit the people, is at least as old as the first time the people of a tribe, or wandering clan, killed their chief because he wasn’t doing what was best for the tribe, and replaced him with somebody who would. That goes back a long, long way because I’ve seen it happen on Monkey Island.
If our goal is to create a perfect society, a utopia, a paradise on Earth (and it should be) it’s probably going to be about finding the right mix, the right balance between the two, rather than choosing one. Because both, quite clearly, are part of who we are, and who we’ve been for a very long time.