In many countries around the world, socialism is used as a derogatory term by right-wing politicians. For example, US President Donald Trump and his supporters attacked his predecessor Barrack Obama for “socialism” for trying to get the government involved in ensuring access to healthcare for all its citizens. Rather than challenge it, academia and media generally tend to propagate a bleak view of socialism.
This unjustified negativity is due in no small part to the use of the word by Communist dictatorships such as the old USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics).
Even today there is a wide range of ideologically differing political parties on the broad left spectrum, many of them using the term ‘socialism’. On one extreme you have the closed despotic regimes like North Korea and one-party states like China and Vietnam, which talk socialism but are currently engaging in rapid development and consumerism that is extremely capitalist in nature.
On the other hand, there was a wave of Latin American left-wing governments in the early 2000s while old school social democracy is enjoying a renaissance exemplified by progressive, young, female prime ministers like New Zealand’s Jacinda Ardern, Finland’s Sanna Marin and Denmark’s Mette Frederiksen.
In Malaysia, however, the ideology has been on the fringes ever since the main opposition Barisan Socialis Rakyat Malaysia was decimated by the widespread use of the Internal Security Act to arrest and detain its elected officials in the early 1960s.
In the present day, despite having a well-developed ideological platform and programme of struggle, Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) supporters and members are often treated as labour activists and NGOs, rather than as representatives of a fully-fledged national party...