On “Democratic” Socialism

Marxism has a new dress.

(Originally published 3/7/21)

“Democracy and socialism go hand in hand.” So says the web site of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA website here).

I’ll give you a few moments now to recover your composure…………..

The same page on the DSA site that I quoted from above goes on to refute most of the common criticisms leveled at socialism. Lengthy descriptions of “what we are not” and little in the way of specifics about “what we are.” That page should set off multiple red flags for any thinking individual reading it.

The DSA, understandably, goes out of its way to distance itself from communism. They claim for example that they do not want a massive government bureaucracy running the economy and that state owned means of production would be limited to only the largest enterprises such as energy and steel. They argue for smaller, locally controlled enterprises such as worker owned co-ops. Interestingly, they do not describe how such as system would be enforced or regulated. This, I believe, is a distinction without a difference. In the old USSR, the “soviet” was intended to be the local “elected” council and it was, of course, part of the government.

In an NPR article dated August 2020 “Republicans Blast Democrats As Socialists. Here’s What Socialism Is”, Republicans are accused of using the “S” word simply as a club with which to bead Democrats over the head. The article goes on to explain that what Senator Sanders and the “Squad” mean by socialism is something akin to some Scandinavian countries, Canada, and the U.K. In the obligatory MSM fashion, the end of the article implies that Trump and Republicans embraced socialism by supporting and passing the CARES act (you can find the definition of “red herring” here). This is of course nonsense.

The countries referred to in the NPR article are not socialist. They are (classical) liberal western democracies with high taxes and expensive social welfare programs. Some are far more business friendly than the United States. They have capitalist economies.

Senator Sanders’ comments on “what I mean by” socialism are at best disingenuous. They are a classic “if-by-whiskey” misdirection (for an explanation of if-by-whiskey, and a good laugh, click here). What Sanders says he “means by” socialism is not what the DSA says it means, yet Sanders and the “Squad” claim to be “Democratic Socialists”. Well, which is it? Is it an if-by-whiskey attempt and taking two sides of an issue at the same time? Is it an attempt to redefine the word socialism? Or is it simply trying to put lipstick on a pig in order to try to sell it to the American people? I suspect the latter.

Words matter. There are many examples of misleading titles applied to political parties and governments. People’s Republic of China, The National Socialist German Workers’ Party, Republic of Cuba, Socialist Republic of Vietnam, and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to name a few. What, after all, could possibly be wrong with a Socialist Workers Party? All are attempts to use classical liberal sounding terms to hide what they really are; totalitarian government.

If Sanders and company really mean they favor western liberal democracy with high taxes and expensive social welfare programs, why not simply say so? Why use the term “socialist” with all its historical and horrific baggage? Why try to dress up socialism when you could simply drop the term?

In the DSA model of employee-owned companies, what changes if you simply swap out the current shareholders with the employees? How does that materially change anything? Will they not select a board and a CEO? Will they not expect to profit? What happens in this model when two automobile manufacturers in two different states find themselves competing? Will the government step in and fix prices? If so, what will the employee shareholders think about that? It’s unworkable, it’s nonsense.

We don’t need Sanders or NPR to tell us what socialism is. History is replete with examples. Socialism is a flawed ideology, base on flawed logic, because it is based on a false predicate; that equality of outcome is desirable. It is not. Competition fuels innovation and drives efficiency. Free markets provide precise signals to accurately allocate resources. Totalitarian government control is required to implement socialism. The rights of the group, or of the majority, can not coexist with individual rights as Americans understand them. Socialism means abandoning our founding documents and principles entirely.

An October 2018 article in Time puts the lie to the DSA, Sanders, et. al. The article states that the Democratic Socialists want to tax the wealthy and big corporations to fund their social welfare programs. But under socialism, there won’t be any wealthy people or corporations to tax. You can’t have it both ways.

The DSA does protest too much. What DSA, Sanders, and the “Squad” support is Marxism. They have dropped the Marxist terminology and sprinkled in terms like “democratic” in order to make this flawed ideology more palatable to Americans but under the hood it is Marxism, it just has a new prom dress now. Putting the term “Democratic” in front of “Socialism” changes nothing.


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