I saw this tweet and tried to understand it:

My daughter asked me if Socialism doesn't work, why do people support it? I said because they don't work either.

Per my understanding, in the first sentence, "Socialism doesn't work", probably means "Socialism isn't good for people". But I haven't find a way to interpret the word "work" in the second sentence, or what "they don't work" stands for.

1 Answer 1


This is a play on two different meanings of work.

In socialism doesn't work, the word work is used to refer to something that functions or succeeds. The Macmillan Dictionary definition reads

[intransitive] to operate in a satisfactory way

The new telephone system seems to be working perfectly.
This pen doesn’t work.
My brain’s not working very well today.

The they in they don't work either refers to people who support socialism, and work is in the sense of

[intransitive] to have a job, usually one that you are paid to do

Dominic works part-time.

In other words, to paraphrase, the only people who think socialism is a functional system are people who do not have jobs. The statement is not meant to be factual, but rather might be repeated by someone on the political right to cast aspersion wryly on people who support socialism as being disconnected from the discipline of work: students and academicians, the unemployable, celebrities and the idle rich, the lazy, and so forth.

  • I work very hard and I support socialism.Stupid tweet. Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 10:54
  • It's a Tweet. What do you expect? You don't get wisdom from bumper stickers, either.
    – choster
    Commented Feb 9, 2019 at 14:28

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .