What is socialism actually? It's where the workers control the means of production, almost as if the workers own stocks in their employer and are encouraged to work harder because they receive economic benefits of their hard work! The horror! Or, state socialism which is where the state has ownership of all businesses (basically, communism)? Why, that sounds exactly the same as me working in a capitalist economy and then paying taxes so that the government can exist and provide a service to me, such as police, firefighting, or health care! Wait, that sounds completely different from socialism! That's capitalism and having a government instead of anarchy!
So, the Tea Party, pretty much all Republicans, and heck - most liberals don't know what they're talking about when they talk about socialism. They just use it as a label to slap on anything their (puppet)masters say.
Recognizing actual socialism is the best weapon for fighting for it.
What are the warning signs of socialism?
- Forbidding private ownership of the means of production, giving the workers equal ownership of the means of production, and then requiring equal pay for each worker regardless of their contribution.
- Having the state control all industry and forbidding private ownership of the means of production.
- A violent overthrow of government where the ruling rich capitalists and/or aristocrats are slaughtered, and the poor take over in order to create a socialist society (Marxism). In this case, the administrators of the socialist society may become the new ruling class. In essence, becoming the enemy they hated.
- When a government gives loans to private businesses so that they can stay in business and help protect the economy from increased unemployment.
- Providing citizens of a capitalist society with desired services (that apply equally to each citizen) paid for by taxes, services such as police, firefighters, a military, education, health care, retirement savings, unemployment insurance, and roads. However in the case where someone may say some (but not all) of these services are socialist because they provide each citizen with equal availability of such services, it must be recognized that each such service would be equally socialist. In such a case, a person would be saying, "I only like the socialism that benefits me, not others."