For two words that inflame such passion, Americans sure don’t seem to know what “socialism” and “capitalism” mean. Those two words are tied atop Merriam-Webster’s list of 2012 Words of the Year, which are ranked based on how often they’re looked up.
Not surprised and neither should You
Thomas Jefferson stipulated that a democracy can only work if its people are educated. Actually let me let the man speak for himself:
“Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree.”
“I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness…Preach, my dear Sir, a crusade against ignorance; establish & improve the law for educating the common people. Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.”
If this is to believed then I have some predictions for my fellow Americans in the near future stay tuned for part 2
FRom the Merriam Webster Website
Words of the Year 2012
SPRINGFIELD, MASS., December 5, 2012—Merriam-Webster Inc., America’s leading dictionary publisher, has announced the Top Ten Words of the Year. Based on the volume of user lookups at Merriam-Webster.com, this list sheds light on topics and ideas that sparked the nation’s interest in 2012.
Two words, socialism and capitalism, share the top spot due to discussion and debate around the presidential election. Socialism saw its largest lookup spikes during coverage of healthcare but also saw peaks in the days following both conventions and each of the presidential debates. Capitalism, although looked up somewhat less often, rode the same waves of interest.
“We saw a huge spike for socialism on Election Day itself, but interest in both words was very high all year,” says Peter Sokolowski, Editor at Large at Merriam-Webster. “Lookups of one word often led to lookups of the other.”
The word socialism refers to governmental ownership and administration of the production and distribution of goods. Capitalism refers to private or corporate ownership of the tools used to make and transport products whose prices are set by competition on the free market.
“It’s fascinating to see which language from a campaign or debate speech resonates with our users,” says John M. Morse, President and Publisher at Merriam-Webster. “With socialism and capitalism, it’s clear that many people turned to the dictionary to help make sense of the commentary that often surrounds these words.”