Two major influences have conspired to make Filipinos hate communism. The Catholic Church that is unequivocal in its condemnation of it and the US that is not only fiercely anti-communist in particular but also leery of socialism in general.

Our hatred of communism, socialism’s most extreme version, has blinded us to the virtues of moderate or less extreme socialism. In the mistaken belief that communism’s violent ways are also those of socialism, we have been dissuaded from questioning our neo-liberal capitalist economy that works principally for the welfare of the owners of land and capital and only incidentally for non-owners or workers.

But socialism is an economic system that is the antithesis not of democracy which is a political system but of capitalism. It espouses common ownership of a country’s productive resources. In its most moderate form, it simply ensures equitable distribution of economic and other benefits by putting limits to capitalism’s absolute ownership of private property.

The assumption is that common ownership makes for a more equal society. Democratic and non-communist countries like Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Canada, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium, Switzerland, Australia, Japan, New Zealand etc. have adopted moderate socialism’s ways and proven the validity of this assumption.

Communism, on the other hand, is the antithesis of both capitalism and democracy. It enforces common ownership of a country’s productive resources via a dictatorship that subordinates individual rights to state rights. It also uses armed revolution to acquire the power to enforce its extreme socialist agenda.

Incidentally, red-tagging is the way capitalism’s surrogates in government and business raise the fearsome specter of communism to keep people averse to even mild forms of socialism. It is capitalism’s way of shielding itself from even peaceful challenges by individuals or groups that want to adopt some of the more equitable ways of socialism.

It is this writer’s contention that mass poverty in the country can be blamed on its neo-liberal capitalist economy that rightist governments (the only kind we’ve had and will have for the next six years and most probably more) have protected ever since. In this system, owners have unlimited access to the benefits of land and capital, leaving their non-owning workers to survive on whatever trickles down.

The Philippines needs a moderately socialist government that would limit private ownership and ensure that non-owners (professional and ordinary workers) are afforded not just a trickle but a fair share of the nation’s economy.

But for a socialist government to happen, the working class must begin to appreciate the virtues of socialism and form a socialist party that is distinctly moderate and non-communist so it is not red-tagged out of existence by capitalism’s agents in government.