The behavioral phenomenon, known as the “conditioned response,” is known to have been discovered, in the early 20th century experimental work of a Russian medical investigator, Dr. Ivan Pavlov. His experimental findings revealed that ringing a bell, just prior to feeding a hungry animal, caused (conditioned) the subject animal, to regularly salivate, thereafter, merely, upon hearing the sound of a bell. This automatic reaction, the “conditioned response,” consists of a predictable, reflexive reaction to a specified, stimulus. As empirically observed, it is common to most living organisms, inclusive of mankind, and is of utility in the understanding of behavior. The adjective for such predictable, associatively, motivated behavior was denominated, “Pavlovian.”
The “conditioned” (or “Pavlovian”) response, is discernably, universal and, in humans, is at times, exploitable, in a a variety of ways. It is tactically used, for example, by commercial advertisers, to effect sales, by broadcasting symbols of the subject item, or service, offered for sale, in intimate association, with an item of the target customer’s, empirically, predictable tastes or desires. As another example, it is used, by public speakers, in their effort to portray points of view, by associating the subject views, with tactically selected, common references.
The wrongful manipulation of beliefs and concepts, by the use of the unprincipled, but (sadly) effective, use of the Pavlovian dynamic, is commonplace. There are many people who will react, to a specific concept, image or point of view, by reason of their own subjective associations, with the suggested subject (stimulus).
During election time, as an insidious mode of persuasion, selected and proven, provocative words, are often used, to elicit a desired, Pavlovian-type response from voters. Initially, a word or concept, is tactically denigrated; later, by its adjectival application, or malicious reference, it is used, as intended, to besmirch the targeted party, with the expected blemish, of the previously denigrated word. It appears, that the work of Dr. Pavlov, can be, utilized, not as he intended, for behavioral understanding, but, cynically, as a political weapon.
The intended verbal weapon, “du jour”, as observed in past writings, is the economic word “Socialist.” The tactic, can be effective only among those who are, even at this literate age, truly ignorant of the accurate meaning of the word, and so, accept it, as intended, as an epithet, in denigration of the intended target; in our present instance, a Candidate for President. It is, at times, ignorantly conflated with the word “Communism.
“Socialism” is an economic theory, while, by broad contrast, Communism is a revolutionary political ideation. Pursuant to Socialist theory, the State is the owner and operator of all industry and commerce. It, unlike Communism, believes that people are to be paid, in accordance with their contribution to society. Adherents to the theory of Socialism, believe that such an economic system will evolve, peacefully.
Communism, (the dialectic enemy of Socialism), by bright contrast, holds that there be no government at all, but rather, rule by the common man (“Dictatorship of the Proletariat”) and that each person should be paid according to his needs, (as opposed to his contribution, as in Socialism.) Communist dogma, further, maintains. that its goal can only be brought about, by violent revolution.
There is, absolutely, no candidate, (despite, attempted Pavlovian association), that is a “Socialist” viz., one who believes, or would condone, the governmental ownership of industry and business. The meaning of the words, “Democratic-Socialist”, (compare with classic “Socialism”) as, subscribed to, by one of the Candidates, and, perhaps others, refers, in its proper application and context, to compassionate capitalism; our system, combining economic freedom of capitalism, with government concern for the citizen.
Since the birth of Free Enterprise, the era of Adam Smith, and his theories concerning the reliance on natural laws of economics (laissez-faire), the tragic, dark, revelatory, reformist novels of Charles Dickens, the demonstrated, extreme cruelty and privations of the common man and the tragedy of our Great Depression, things have mercifully, changed, for the better.
Originating in the 1930’s, under President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in lieu of continuing to heartlessly, abandon the citizen to the cruel and apathetic vicissitudes of Smith’s natural law, America, to its profound credit, verbalized, and undertook, a contractual commitment of governmental assistance to its people. In pursuance of this empathic undertaking, it enacted compassionate laws, making worker’s life bearable.
Currently, we have governmental programs of social security, disability relief, laws on the subject of fair wages and healthy working conditions, retirement benefits, safety regulations, health relief, flood and disaster relief, defense, public projects, federal oversight of medicines, water purity, food and airs safety, regulations covering safety of the environment, preservation of the National parks, and responsible, ecological set-asides, disaster relief, protections for the consumer in the financial and investment area, land, sea and air supervision, and too much additional examples, of empathic, government involvement, to be able to responsibly, continue to list. Every one of such existentially vital, programs, are Federal (Government and State), administered and controlled, and accordingly, can, by some people’s ignorance, and lack of appreciation, be styled, “socialist.” Yet, even those flat earth, reductive, intellectuals and their inciters, could not live the American (“Capitalist”) dream, without them.
We would cordially, invite, those who believe, or simply, use, “American Socialism,” as an intended Pavlovian epithetic, reference, to “Socialist,” to surrender any of their many, gratefully accepted, governmental (social) entitlements.