Preaching Socialism/ Living Capitalism
America may be the safest place in the world to preach Socialism to others while prospering under Capitalism. That’s the life of Bernie Sanders, who somehow managed to take our racist, rigged, hopelessly flawed Capitalist system and make it work for him. His net worth is said to be over $2 million. He managed to do that with a salary that is just about three times that of the average income in the U.S.
We should all be ashamed that Bernie can’t do better than that under Capitalism. He and other Democratic Socialists certainly are. It’s so upsetting that Senator Sanders believes that the entire Free-Market Capitalist system must be replaced with a Democratic Socialist system that ensures everyone can do as well as he has as a Capitalist living Socialist. But what is Democratic Socialism? What does it mean?
Looking into its definition is a leap down the rabbit hole. You see Socialism isn’t just one thing to its adherents. None of them agree on what Socialism means so you have to break it down to its most basic objective. The Democratic Socialists of America on their website say that Democratic Socialism means this:
“Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.”
This is not to be confused with Market Socialism, Libertarian Socialism, Reformist Socialism, Ethical Socialism, Revolutionary Socialism, Liberal Socialism, Nationalist Socialism, Communist Socialism, Utopian Socialism, Social Democracy, State Socialism and Socialism That Lies About How Much Better Everything Is Under Socialism (I made up that last one). Do you see the problem? Socialism is whatever you want it to be. There is a Socialism for everyone out there; just pick your flavor.
But let’s just consider the definition above. The Democratic Socialists of America say that both the economy and society should be run democratically, but inform you in advance that democracy must satisfy public needs instead of private profit. Democracy doesn’t work like that. The ruling class doesn’t decide on what it wants and then not give you any choice but to vote for it. It’s like having a democratic family vote on what kind of Ford pickup you should buy.
At its heart Socialism is about the state owning the means of production. It says that the Workers own them, but they really don’t. If the Workers decided to privatize the means of production they would not be allowed to. If the Workers voted to raise the cost of goods to increase their profits and therefore their wages, they would not be allowed to unless the state also agreed. Under Socialism, the State owns everything and really ends up making all the important decisions in your life. If they own the means of production they control your income as a Worker, no matter where you go, no matter what job you take. The State owns you too if they own your first freedom which is Economic Liberty. The Liberty to better your economic circumstance by your own talents and abilities.
It can be said that the wealthy are freer than the poor because the wealthy have more choices in life. Choices about where to live, where to go to school, where they go on vacation, what kind of car they drive, what the food they eat, or what clothes to wear. They can offer their children more choices too. Individual wealth means more freedom while poverty limits choices and therefore freedom as well. The goal of a Capitalist Society is not to make everyone universally poor. The entire system depends on making everyone as wealthy as possible so they can participate in the economy. The rich guy who owns three houses, four cars, a yacht, and an airplane has provided an income for all the Workers who make those things. The poor and middle class are employed by them. By eliminating the wealth that drives the demand for such products you also eliminate the companies and jobs that satisfy that demand. This is social and economic “justice.” Democratic Socialism really says very little about expanding freedom (choices) for people but talks a great deal about limiting the choices you have because it makes those without such choices unhappy. It’s basically weaponized greed in the hands of the envious. Social Democracy looks at Capitalism and denounces it as all fun and no social responsibility; it would replace it with a system that is all social responsibility and no fun.
Everyone can take satisfaction in knowing that in a Democratic Socialist society of economic justice nobody is doing better than anybody else, except of course the people running it.
Cloaking the Reality
Democratic Socialists will tell you that they denounce the authoritarian manifestations of Socialism that include, Nazism, Stalinism, and Maoism, without admitting a dirty little secret, that socialism almost always ends up authoritarian. When a Socialist State concentrates that much power in itself it never wants to surrender it democratically to anyone. That is why such states turn authoritarian. Socialism fails to deliver on its promises of plenty; the People become dissatisfied and march and demonstrate. The People then become Reactionaries that threaten the Socialist Order and the State cracks down to protect itself from the People it claims to be serving. The latest example of this is Venezuela, where Socialism in just 14 yeas broke some kind of personal best record in reducing the richest nation in South America to one in which people eat their own house pets.
They cloak this reality by claiming that the kind of Socialism they are talking about is the kind that exists in countries like Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. They cite low unemployment (do we have a problem with unemployed Scandanavian-Americans in this country?) universal healthcare and free education as if that’s all Socialism is. The problem is none of these countries are actually socialist. Sweden, Norway, and Denmark each have monarchies and official state religions. Last I checked, those are not features of Socialism. These countries all have very high taxation rates but are Capitalist. The workers do not own the means of production. Most businesses are in private hands and there is public ownership of stock in them. Their political systems would more accurately be described as Welfare States.
The confusion about what Democratic Socialism is extends to the general public as well. In a recent Manchester poll, 64 percent of Democrats said they would not vote for a socialist. A Business Insider poll found vastly different views among Democrats on what Socialism even was. What we could say is that most Democrats would not vote for a socialist if they knew how to identify one.
I try whenever I can to try and understand things in simple terms, so let me help you figure this out: Ever get drunk with your friends and argue about what the ending of Stanley Kubrick’s “2001, A Space Odyssey” really meant?
That’s what Democratic Socialism is like.