America is More Socialist than You Might Think

Written by Oscar Rodriguez

Growing up in socialist Cuba, we were often reminded how fortunate we were to be living in a socialist country where people were taken care of by the government and where every citizen has access to free healthcare and free education from preschool to graduate school. We were also reminded that in socialist Cuba nobody experiences hunger because the government feeds everyone through a system of monthly rations enough to feed a person for a month. These rations included a variety of products like milk, meat, fish, grains, candies and even beer and cigarettes. If a person used all his rations he can buy more in state markets at a low price where all the products are subsidized by the government.  Other perks of living in “Cuba’s socialist paradise” are free mortuary services and nursing care.

To this day, many people on the island that haven’t had the opportunity to travel (because international travel is restricted although the government has softened restrictions in recent years) or do not have any relatives residing in the US, still have the idea that in the US people die ill on the streets because they cannot have access to healthcare. Or that education is basically inaccessible for those that cannot pay for it.  The Cuban government constantly compares the “good socialist system” against the inhumane and evil American capitalist system where the most fundamental human rights and needs are totally reserved for those that can afford it.

The “ill American capitalist society”, according to the Cuban regime, does not have a cure, it will never get better because that’s the way it is and has always been. In its principles and core is inhumane and unequal.

But is it? Of course not; the truth of the situation is far from what the Cuban regime depicted. The fact is that the US despite being the champion of capitalism in the world has many socialist like programs that are the envy of any socialist country that ever existed. American kids have access to free education through K12 and even free or subsidized higher education. There are also health programs like Medicaid and Medicare that secure treatment for individuals in financial need and the elder. And there are the SNAP and WIC programs to help families that cannot afford to buy food.  These and many other state-supported programs make possible a more equal society by lifting those who are at the bottom and securing some equality of opportunity.

The founding father Thomas Paine noted that for a society to function properly, even an individualistic one, there must be some degree of equality. In his pamphlet Agrarian Justice, he proposed to redistribute wealth from the wealthier to the poorer, therefore, creating a more equal society. Paine proposed welfare benefits for the disabled and the elder as well as land and money to young people once they reach maturity. This pamphlet dating from the early years of America are a clear evidence that social welfare and equality were pillars in the creation of the new nation.


Posted in Communitarianism, Individualism, Socialism | 6 Comments

Barn Raising in a Barnless World

Written by Chase Bethay

Daniel Kemmis, an attorney and Harvard graduate, starting his life in the humble land of eastern Montana. Here, in this rural landscape, Kemmis experienced and learned many lessons that would develop and influence his political beliefs. Kemmis is a civic republican at heart, because of what he learned growing up on his farm in Montana. Because of his upbringing, the civic republican way of life was a must. The choice to be completely independent was impossible, and dependence on your neighbors was a good thing.


These ideas were laid out in a work of his, Barn Raising, in which he describes the trials of surviving harsh winters and the unforgiving landscape of Montana. Here, nobody was rich enough or owned enough stuff to be able to be self-sufficient, and therefore everyone relied on everyone. For Kemmis, this was a good thing. You learned to get along with people you greatly dislike, and you do so because you have a greater common goal that needs to be accomplished. Kemmis explains how this teaches true tolerance and responsibility. To simply raise a barn means that you must rely on your community to bring hands, equipment and time to put this project together. The civic republican way of life was a must, and it was a good thing.

However, Kemmis’ arguments for civic republicanism are easily criticized by pointing out that not everybody lives like he did in rural Montana, and they would be right. They claim that because we live in urban environments where we are able to be self-sufficient, should we rather just embrace liberalism because civic republicanism is unnecessary? Absolutely not – in fact, maybe a little insufficiency would be good for us. Perhaps, as a society, we should move towards a lifestyle like that of young Kemmis, for the sake of strengthening the community.

In my life, I was very active in my high school Future Farmers of America (FFA) chapter. Through this organization, I learned a lot about the agriculture community. In fact, I become so involved with other agriculture-minded students that I competed in a lot of FFA events and even raised a pig. The lessons I learned through these adventures opened my mind to completely different kind of lifestyle – that of the civic republican.

I have spent my entire life in the suburbs of Goodyear, Arizona. I have lived a distinct life apart from what Kemmis was raised in. There was no necessary cooperation, no co-dependence. I was self sufficient, and had no reason to embrace anything other than liberalism. However, when I decided to raise and show a pig for my FFA chapter, that all changed.

Completely out of my element and in foreign territory, I relied on the community to provide. In order to purchase a show pig, I needed someone who knew how to get a show pig – my agriculture advisor, Mr. Blattner. He was the one who traveled across state lines to buy pigs for the students and bring them back to Arizona. When I had to find a place to house my pig, my friend offered up a spare pin in her backyard. To feed a pig, I needed someone who knew how to properly care for a pig’s health. I met Mrs. Trump, who taught me how to feed and care for my pig. When my pig was sick, I had to find a veterinarian to bring my pig back to health. I remember going to sell our pigs at the market, and one of my friend’s pigs did not meet the weight threshold to be able to sell her pig. A nearby ranch owner bought her pig so that she would not be out hundreds of dollars as a high school student. I learned that it takes community to accomplish something as small as raising a single pig. The lessons I learned from this venture taught me so much about what it means to be a member of the community, and to care for others.

So yeah, Kemmis’ ideas about barn raising probably don’t hit home to everyone. But his ideas ring true – that raw, gritty, unfiltered community can teach us the importance of civic republican community in a way that we would never otherwise experience. Rather than scrap his ideas, maybe we should take on some sort of rural adventure. Maybe we should embrace a little insufficiency. Maybe we should rely on the community more. Maybe we should all raise a pig. You never know what you could learn.


Posted in Communitarianism, Kemmis | 5 Comments

Communitarianism in an Individualistic Nation

Written by Ethan Anderson


The United States is known as a place of promise, a place where people can come from nothing and achieve greatness. The “American Dream” is something that people have been chasing for centuries. It exemplifies the individualistic tendencies of this nation, where many people believe in doing what needs to be done themselves. However, is it fair to refer to the United States as an individualistic nation? There are many aspects of everyday American life that are possible thanks to the idea of communitarianism. Despite the labels, the communitarian aspects of American life and Western culture must be adequately recognized.

First and foremost, individualism is the idea that people should act for themselves and look to their own needs before looking to the needs of others. Ralph Waldo Emerson writes of this in his essay “Self-Reliance.” Emerson writes that readers should use their own methods, discover things for themselves, and find what goodness means to them before acting on it (Emerson 2). He argues that in order to live the most satisfying and fulfilling life, people must address their own wishes before addressing those of others. He goes as far as to refer to those who seek help from others as the leeches of society (Emerson 3). While this idea may be extreme, individualistic tendencies can be traced back to the beginnings of the United States.

The oppressive rule of the British government over the United States colonies led the colonists to yearn for independence. After achieving such independence, they created a national doctrine that would afford all Americans the rights that were not granted to them by the British. They were free to do as they pleased and granted the new government little power over the people. This revolutionary idea birthed the beginnings of individualism within the United States. The people were given basic rights and liberties and the majority could not take that away from them.

But as the centuries passed, it can be seen how the efforts of the American collective have led to many great things. For example, the American Revolution itself was a communitarian effort. It consisted of people coming together for a common cause: freedom. Daniel Kemmis wrote his essay “Barn Raising” arguing that the community receives the most out of issues that are decided upon by everyone. A collective common ground serves the community better than if everyone were to live based solely on their individual needs.

This idea of communitarianism is often overlooked by Americans. After all, the foundation of this country is that of a sentiment of individualism. The communitarianism that is neglected is often utilized in everyday life. For example, it is a collective effort to manufacture and grow food to be sold to the public. It is a collective effort to build up industries that grow the economy. It is a collective effort for people to develop communities and suburbs. While it is important to remember the individualistic roots of this country, it is also important to recognize and appreciate all that communitarianism has built for the American people.


Works Cited

Emerson, R. W. (n.d.). Self-Reliance. Emerson on the Soul.


Kemmis, D. (1990). “Barn Raising” – The Community and Politics of Place.

Posted in American Dream, Communitarianism, Individualism, Kemmis | 2 Comments

Lessons from The Cajun Navy on Community

Written by Justin Bradley

In response to Hurricanes Katrina in 2005 and Harvey in 2017 the “Cajun Navy” sailed to help others in need. During the days and few weeks that followed the devastation, these “sailors” demonstrated to the world that Americans will come to the aid of one another for no other reason than it is the right thing to do. People came from hundreds of miles away with flat bottom boats to assist those in need. These people put aside whatever differences they may have had with each other. Differences such as political party, color, sex, religion, and socioeconomic status to name a few did not matter.


What mattered was the community, the people, even those from hundreds of miles away came to the aid of another community in need. Their actions go straight to the heart of Daniel Kemmis’s Barn Raising, where he highlights the issue of people putting aside their differences for the good of the community. “Lilly and Albert didn’t like each other much better at the end of the barn raising than at the beginning. But that day, and many others like it, taught them something important. They learned, whether they liked it or not, a certain tolerance for another slant on the world, another way of going at things that needed doing. They found in themselves an unsuspected capacity to accept one another. This acceptance, I believe, broadened them beyond the boundaries of their own likes and dislikes and made these personal idiosyncrasies seem less important” (pg. 121). It is in this tolerance of one another and community coming together for the greater good that Kempis writes about that the Cajun Navy demonstrates.

In 2013 and 2018 our Congress failed to put aside their political party affiliate and grasp for power which resulted in a government shutdown. The 2013 shutdown lasted for 16 days in which roughly 800,000 government employees were put on work furloughs, while others still worked without knowing when they would be paid. The 2018 shutdown lasted for only 3 days due to an extension being reached to extend the government for a few more weeks to allow Congress to work on a budget. Time and time again we have seen gridlock and members of Congress inability to work together even for simple resolutions such as a budget extension. Members of Congress in 2013 only had to look back five years at the ability of American citizens to come together for the greater good because it is being is expected. Members of Congress only had to look back a few months and yet they still can’t agree on anything. Today Congress seems to be more fixed on stalling the other party from accomplishing anything of importance. Trust has eroded in dealing with each other from different political parties, as well as doing what is best for the community (the Country as whole in this case). Instead far too many politicians are concerned about their districts or state. For inspiration on working together and the importance of it Congress need to read Barn Raising and look to the members of the Cajun Navy. As Kemmis wrote “And because Albert and Lilly and the rest of our neighbors were able to count on one another, they experienced the satisfaction of accomplishing a big, tough job by working together” (pg. 121). Plain and simple Congress needs to put aside their differences and work together to get the tough jobs done.

Posted in Cajun Navy, Communitarianism, Community, Kemmis | 3 Comments

Your Individualism is Sexist-Not Heroic

Written by LG

Classic individualist thinkers, i.e. Ayn Rand and Ralph Waldo Emerson, were pioneers in constructing political thought that is still existent in contemporary social and political life. The vehemently held beliefs amongst individualist, both of the past and present, hold in incredulously high regard the importance of living for oneself. There is no greater joy in life, and no sweeter satisfaction, than to live for oneself, and no one else. The praise of classic individualist thinkers, like the two previously mentioned, is a testament to how viscerally said ideology resonated with a group of people. However, the ugly truth behind individualism is that is is an ideology that can only be upheld by a person of privilege.


Who Gets to be an Individualist?


            In the novel, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, a character’s dialogue is a lengthy testament to the importance of individualism. The character states that, “‘men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created,”(Rand, 1903, pp.408). Throughout the rest of the novel, Rand goes on to say that those who live a life dependent on a creator are equivalent to a parasite. This type of discourse has proven to be problematic. This type of discourse has created in a sense of othering. There are those who do-the productive members of the world, and those who depend-the parasites.

Individualism fails to exercise the understanding of the privileges and resources necessary to be a doer. Marginalized groups are given the bare necessity to survive, nonetheless produce. Furthermore, individualists-specifically Rand, go on to villainize producers who give. How can the playing field be equal for everyone to be doers, if they are prohibited from reaping the benefits of resources produced? Individualism is only plausible for privilege. Individualism is malicious to the marginalized.


Who Does Individualism Hurt?

            Individualism has bred the mentality that, as existent in the name, people must live for themselves. The shortcomings of one person/community is, therefore, a failure on their part to “keep up”. Individualism has bred a certain breed of callousness to the suffering of others. The notion that humans cannot be bothered, or slowed down, to help the progression of others, continues the proliferation of suffering amongst women in under-developed countries.

I do not want to sound like a radicalist. The suffering of women is not the product of one factor, one ideology, etc. However, individualism also serves no benefit to women in under-developed countries.

In the book, Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof, the plight of women on a global scale is studied in depth. In India, as per the book, 2 to 3 million women were prostitutes. According to a survey conducted in 2008, half confessed being coerced into the sex work industry (Kristof, 2008, pp. 6). The chapter goes on to document the hardships experienced by one of the brothel workers, in particular, Meena. During her time as a forced sex slave, Meena ended up giving birth to a young girl. The girl was held captive from Meena as an incentive for Meena’s complicity. In an eventual act of desperation, Meena sought out help from local police. The police not only dismissed her desperate cry for help, but mocked her pain (Kristof, 2008, pp. 6-8).

Individualists are not to blame for the misfortunes of women. Individualists are not to blame for the rampant prevalence of women forced into sex slavery. However, this dominant ideology that individuals must live solely for themselves continues to promote selfishness, and a lack of awareness of the livelihood of those without the same level of resources.


What’s Next for Individualism?

In addressing the gendered impacts of poverty, oppression, and violence on a global scale, individualism does not need to be dismantled in its entirety. Classical individualists presented ideas of great merit, that may exist within the revolution to gender equality, and the dismantlement of sexual oppression. In the essay, Self Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson, he describes the power of committing to one’s own thoughts of how to live and act. Emerson states that, “the power which resides in him is new in nature, and none but he knows what that is which he can do, nor does he know until he has tried,”(Emerson, 1841, par.81). Reliance on oneself can breed resilience. Promoting the ideal that there is power in the preservation of individual beliefs will continue to produce fighters for a cause. This is exemplified in those who overcome incredulous hardships. This is manifested in the story of Meena, and her determination to press onwards. But, in order to individualism to promote resilience, the aspect of selfishness must be eroded. Giving towards others should not be synonymous with giving away from oneself.



Rand, A. (2017). The Fountainhead. New York: New American Library.

Emerson, R. W., & Needleman, J. (2008). The Spiritual Emerson: essential works. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin.

KRISTOF, N. D. (2018). HALF THE SKY: how to change the world. S.l.: VIRAGO PRESS LTD.

Posted in Ayn Rand, Emerson, Feminism, Individualism | 5 Comments

Political Philosophies of the NBA

Written by A.M.

Basketball is one of the few team sports where one individual effort can trump that of the entire opposing team’s efforts.  Unlike football where the team or the coach might represent the franchise, basketball is different. The NBA would fail if its top performers and stars (below) quit. But still, it’s a team sport.  So the question begs, which political philosophy is most prevalent in the league?  How could civic republicanism and/or classic liberalism help teams and players find success?



The front office:

NBA owners, GMs and other executives understand that they need everyone working together to make things happen.  They need this cohesiveness and optimization to gain a competitive advantage over other franchises.  If executives worked from a philosophy of individualism the product they put together just wouldn’t make sense.  If every decision maker from the top was only worried about bolstering his/her resume by making deals, then the franchise would suffer from those selfish moves. Everyone must work for each other towards a common goal of building the team that is envisioned.  For these reasons I see NBA front offices with a mindset of civic republicanism.  (Below is Laker’s President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka)




Most NBA coaches have to deal with the cards (players) they are dealt with.  They also have to work towards goals set by the front office they work for.  Surprisingly these goals don’t always have winning as a top priority.  A coach with a philosophy of classical liberalism would want to individually perform their best. Working hard at what they do to produce wins, mastering their craft as an individual. But this job requires a philosophy of civic republicanism.  Instead of worrying about themselves as individuals, they need to sacrifice that mindset and worry about the greater good of the franchise.  Sometimes this sacrifice can even stain their reputation as an individual.  These coaches need to share the collective goal of the franchise as a whole.  While losing games might ruin public perception of a coach, those losses can grant a team with a high draft pick who alters the franchises path for decades into the future.  It is so important that coaches see the collective goal and work towards that instead of their own personal goals.  (Below is Warriors head coach Steve Kerr and Spurs coach Gregg Popovich)




When considering there are less than 500 jobs to play professional basketball in the NBA, one could infer that these individuals were able to maximize the performance of themselves.  These jobs are highly coveted and most players have a chip on their shoulder from all of the doubters they proved wrong to get to this point.  If a player were to worry or sacrifice too much for a teams good they would likely not have ever been recognized to get to this point.  Executives don’t look at a college team and say “That is the team that I want”, they look at a single player and know that they want that single player.  This is why I think that NBA players have to have a philosophy of classical liberalism. Every player as an individual needs to maximize their performance, their craft, their contribution in order to have any success at all.  Obviously there is a big team dynamic.  But everyone on the team knows that they as an individual need to work extremely hard to accomplish anything. (Below are former teammates Lebron James and Kyrie Irving)


The answer isn’t just “civic republicanism” or “classic liberalism”.  The answer is a calculated mix of both throughout all levels of the process.  Some jobs in the professional sports industry need that shared goal where everyone chips in to achieve success.  Other jobs call for individuals worried about themselves doing their thing.  A healthy mix of both philosophies together can be used to achieve greatness.

Posted in Civic Republicanism, Classic Liberalism, NBA | 6 Comments

One Paycheck Away

Written by Kaylin Kaufman

Americans are concerned with a variety of issues today, both politically and socially. Whether the focus is on the President, government shutdowns, or the recent stock market crash, Americans enjoy debating on current issues and which actions should be taken. However, Americans can occasionally become distracted by smaller issues, instead of focusing on the bigger picture. One large and complex problem Americans are living with, but rarely discussing, is the issue of mass poverty. According to CNN, almost three-quarters of Americans are living from paycheck to paycheck, with little to no emergency finances. How can America be the best superpower in the world with so many of its own citizens risking bankruptcy? Housing is too expensive in most cities, wages have fallen, healthcare is incredibly expensive, and more senior citizens have to put off retirement. Finland, Germany, and France, along with many other countries, have taken many measures to prevent large-scale poverty, including the controversial Universal Basic Income (UBI). As Judith Schulevitz argues in her op-ed “It’s Payback Time for Women”, implementing UBI in America would “…reduce the ill effects of poverty and therefore the cost to society of bad public health, crime, and incarceration” (Schulevitz 1). Providing all Americans with a small annual stipend, even just $500, will help America progress. Allowing Americans to add to their savings, pay off a debt, have an extra month’s rent, or even just extra spending cash will help the economy and lessen the stresses of many Americans. The benefits of creating a UBI in America are too great to ignore. Implementing a small annual stipend, perhaps an amount between $500 and $3,000 a year could be paid for through an increase of taxes to the wealthy. However, this idea presents problems. Almost every attempt of increasing taxes for the ultra-wealthy has been fruitless, partially due to lobbying efforts to block legislation. Billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett do not pay their fair share of taxes, which not only includes their lower income taxes, but also their completely untaxed investment funds. Enacting higher taxes for billionaires could provide poor Americans with a potentially life-saving amount of money, while hardly causing a dent in a billionaire’s bank account. Warren Buffet himself wrote in a New York Times op-ed piece that the rich elite should pay more in taxes, prompting President Obama to include the “Buffett Rule” in his tax proposal, which would have increased taxes on people making more than 1 million dollars a year to 30% (Buffett 1).



Americans need to realize how little a billionaire’s bank account would be affected with a slight increase in taxes for both income and investments. A billionaire losing $20,000 in taxes would make that back in a minute. According to Business Insider, the top six billionaires in 2013 made an average of $22,000 per minute (Business Insider 1). The elite 1% have the means to provide America with a UBI, benefitting the people who need those few hundred dollars the most. Americans should not have to worry about choosing either food or rent money. The addition of a Universal Basic Income will not solve the problem of mass poverty, but it will help.


Works Cited

Shulevitz, Judith. “It’s Payback Time for Women.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 8 Jan. 2016,

Buffett, Warren E. “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 14 Aug. 2011,


Roche, Julia La. “Here’s How Much 10 Of The Richest People In The World Made Per Minute In 2013.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 19 Dec. 2013,

Posted in Poverty, Uncategorized, Universal Basic Income | 8 Comments