I am not sure whether today’s topic is socialism or the destruction of the meaning of words. It is probably both.

In recent years we’ve experienced a veritable massacre in the destruction of word meanings. Government, business, advertisers and others are all guilty. We are all victims of word destruction when being asked to purchase genuine imitation leather or real counterfeit diamonds. No longer can we buy a “small” drink. They are now all medium, large or super large.

Orwell, in his classic satirical book “1984,” convinced his imaginary world that war is peace. But, as a serious writer, he was critical of doublespeak, which sounds impressive but has no meaning. He likened it to “a cuttlefish squirting out ink.”

Remember when it was acceptable to be a “liberal.” Now, after terrible political distortions, particularly during and since the Reagan administration, being liberal in the U.S. is like being insane. Even worse, it means one might even be a dangerous socialist. Thus, “liberals” have had to become “progressives.” Now even progressives are suspected of touting socialism, which is, as everyone is supposed to know, a direct road to communism.

Consider a recent Examiner article (Feb. 14, “America is lurching toward a socialist mess”), in which the author laments the potential danger of President Obama transforming our country into a “socialistic morass of governmental dependence.” The writer, and presumably the reader, automatically assumes that anything socialistic must be pretty bad, if not actually evil.

One definition of socialism says it is a “social and economic doctrine that calls for public rather than private ownership or control of property and natural resources.” It postulates that everything that people produce is in some sense a social product. Society as a whole, therefore, should own or at least control property for the benefit of all.

In actuality, we already have a form of socialism, and it didn’t start with Obama. The distortion in our case is that we largely apply our socialistic philosophy only to the rich. Recall the recent hue and cry against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she had the gall to suggest salary caps of only $400,000 for executives running companies saved by government bailout money.

One should note that most countries in Europe are, by American standards, socialist states. Surprisingly their standard of living is, based on just about any comparative scale one chooses, superior to ours. Empirically, they have less poverty, better health care, fewer infant fatalities, longer lives, better education, better overall housing, better mass transit, and the list goes on.

The point I am trying to make is that we should not allow “socialism,” “liberal,” or “progressive” to be become distorted into derogatory words.  More importantly, we should object, based on grammar if not as political nonsense, when our leaders describe the invasion of Grenada as a “rescue mission” or say we’re in Iraq “to “bring them democracy.” As an old CIA hand, I think we should also get away from “selective use of violence,” meaning to assassinate, or “elimination with extreme prejudice,” meaning we should kill them.