ONE OF THE MOST MISUSED WORDS in the American political lexicon is the word “socialism.” It is used both as an insult and as a badge of pride, it is used to describe Soviet Russia and modern Germany, it is used to describe Stalin and it is used to describe Hitler. In the context of modern American politics, its meaning is even more confused: you may remember, around the 2008 election, that there was a popular Tea Party bumper sticker of Barack Obama with his face painted to look like the Joker from The Dark Knight, with the word “Socialist” written underneath. The Joker, in that movie, was an anarchist, which is an entirely different ideology.

Now, the word is being used in reference to Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who wears the label proudly. So what does it mean, exactly? And how can a word serve as an umbrella to both Soviet-era repression and modern Scandinavian prosperity? TestTube News put together this four-and-a-half minute primer on what the word means, and how you can use it without using it wrong.

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