“I ain’t drunk, and what’s wrong with drinking anyway?”
Progressives are by and large Socialists in denial. You say “socialist” and they see those failed states and draconian systems just like you do. Only they’re convinced that it was just the wrong people in charge, not something inherent in socialism that is incompatible with human nature and a prosperous society. The Little Red Hen (ironic that that came from Russian folklore) should want to feed all of the animals who wouldn’t do the work to make the bread, and so she shouldn’t mind that the Government forces her to, and everyone will feel this way once they see the light. They don’t see that productivity will fall without coercion, and will probably fall even with it.
So they use another word to distinguish themselves from those systems, even though they espouse the same philosophy. They see subtle differences in flavors of swamp water and chastize those who don't recognize them as ignorant. Their swamp water will taste like rosewater.
To me, if it can be traced to Marxism, it's socialism. Maybe I should stop using "socialism" and start using "Marxism" instead. But I don't know. I kind of like "Progressive" Rock, and that doesn't mean the exact same thing either. So I use "socialism" with a lower case "s", like "libertarian" with a lower-case "l" to distinguish it from Webster's and Orthodoxy.
To them, using "socialist" threatens their defense mechanism, their denial -- that allows them to believe that they aren't what they are. And that brings out the fright or flight reflex.
There are "S"ocialists who blend themselves into the flock of progressive "s"ocialists ... but the reason this is so easy is there really isn't a whole lot of difference in their philosophies. The "s"ocialists, though, fool themselves into a separation of the philosophy and the distasteful measures needed to enforce it, as well as the effects it has on prosperity and self-worth. Most of the "S"ocialists are very aware of this, and they just keep their mouths shut about it unless they're in a "safe" venue where they believe only friendly ears are listening.
But even the "s"ocialists know, on some level, that force will be required. Here's one of the many slips, candid speech that reveals it -- this one from Michelle Obama during the campagin:
"Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed."Get that? Require. Demand. Push you out of your comfort zone. To be "better" (according to whom?) and to "engage" (in what? how? who decides?) And he will never allow you to go back to your lives. And, oh yes, he will make sure that you are informed. (By the Ministry of Information, no doubt.)