Why Democratic Socialists aren't afraid to call themselves "Socialist" anymore

And here’s that pointless argument of definition I was referring to. The dictionary is not and has never been intended to be an arbiter of language. It only lists a few common uses of a word but is not exhaustive or exclusive in any way. Meaning is use after all.

But let’s use your Websters definition #1 anyway. In the United States, the government controls the means of production, namely our tax dollars. All products and services provided by our government are produced by and as a result of collecting our taxes. As the government is made up of the people, anything the government owns or controls is by definition an asset of the people. Our government controls the distribution of goods and services it produces according to the will of the people. This is democratic socialism and is also why our government is socialist.

No where in the Websters definition does is say 100% of all goods and services, but rather it says “any of various economic and political theories” which nicely covers how our government works as it is only one of the many various models.

In the end, the argument that our nation is not a socialist nation at its core is really nothing more than a No True Scotsman argument…


But how do those limits persist, when the wealthy can perpetuate and expand their benefits through access to and influence over politics? It seems like a game of whack-a-mole, with no end to the cycle of abuse, outrage, regulation, and back to abuse.


In fact, it’s baked into Six Sigma methods.


The founders set up our government specifically so that all voters would not be valued equally. That’s why Montana and California have the same number of senators.
I doubt the founders could have foreseen such a huge disparity in population, but it does still have the benefit of helping to prevent the tyranny of the majority.
I happen to agree with the majority on many issues, but I still see the benefits of the current system. The real fix, like so much of American politics today, is to get rid of gerrymandering. More moderate legislators could compromise to find solutions to the benefit of (most) all, rather than sticking to polarized positions held by slim majorities.

The founders set our government specifically so that only white male property owners made the decisions.
While a number of revisions have been made to the framework to lend an air of inclusion in the process to anyone not rich and white, by and large things are still running along as intended.


Eh - I don’t think it was about capitalist superiority. But American superiority. The whole point of NASA was to make it a civilian exercise vs a military one, but the bill was footed by the governement. Though make no mistake in both cases it was to showboat ICBM capabilities.

I am actually a fairly big fan of the Soviet program as they ended up doing more with less in many cases, but they were able to keep their pace partly due to lower safety thresholds. Still, while a lot of their tech was cruder, it was also simpler and more robust. They had different problems and thus different solutions, which lead to different innovations.

Still, while they had some initial victories, they sort of fell down short of crossing the finish line. Though once we stopped “racing” I have been impressed with their Mir station. While I loved the Shuttles, the whole concept was flawed to begin with, while Russia’s Soyuz really haven’t changed much in function since the 70s or so.

I am not sure Korolev surviving would have mattered or not, as their “keep strapping V2s together to get more lift” I think has a lower ceiling vs building larger actual engines. Getting all of them to work in unison may not have ever worked reliably. The Lunakhod missions were awesome, though.

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That’s not what the Means of Production are.

MoP are the physical substrate of industry; factories, machinery, mines, land, etc.


Time for the Madison quotes again?

In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be just, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.

James Madison, Statement (1787-06-26) as quoted in Notes of the Secret Debates of the Federal Convention of 1787 by Robert Yates

Or see here:


It’s possible that we read different books, and it’s also possible that there’s some twist in the last few chapters I’ve missed because despite two valiant attempts I’ve never actually been able to slog my way to the very end, but the grifters and spongers are not widely characterized as upper-class twits in Atlas Shrugged. That derision is reserved for the population at large - the unwashed masses, the moochers, or the “takers” if you want to use Paul Ryan’s preferred terminology.

John Galt is the only working-class character in the book, and it’s only through doing something extraordinary that he elevates himself into the hero class that is otherwise populated by deserving and self-serving captains of industry. Everyone else in the poor and working class are constantly derided for not doing what Galt did: namely, pulling himself up by his own bootstraps by inventing a physically-impossible engine (even in the 50s, how likely is it that the son of a mechanic could go to a prestigious enough school to meet the son of a copper tycoon, earn a double-major in Plot Relevance, and invent something that could upturn entire industries because it violates the laws of physics?). Galt abandons the company he works for when the board votes to enact more socialist policies (“from each according to their ability, to each according to their need”) and founds Galt’s Gulch rather than help his fellow worker during an extended economic depression (which Rand blames on the government and its insistence on stealing from said industrial captains). He also takes enough information about his engine with him that nobody but fellow brilliant and wealthy inventor-capitalists Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden are able to reconstruct how it works, because every other working-class scrub in the novel is an idiot.

There are also upper-class twits, to be sure. Dagny’s brother is one of them. He seems destined to make nothing but bad business decisions so that his sister will have something to do in order to advance the plot. But he’s not able to twist the government to his benefit. Quite the opposite, in fact. He’s largely on the government’s side in supporting the less fortunate, at least until it comes around to bite him. One of his bad business decisions is losing a considerable amount of money because the government decides to nationalize one of Taggart’s railways. There are cases of the government doing things to benefit existing capitalist interests in the ostensible name of the public good, but they’re all ham-handed and blatantly obvious ploys by competently-run larger players to squeeze out their competition (like Dagny’s smaller railroad company).

Rand’s book is pretty explicit in its condemnation of collectivism in any form. The government is corrupt and incompetent, sure, but it is portrayed as succumbing to communist tendencies, trying to redistribute the product and profitability of the wealthy industrialist class to help the great unwashed and undeserving masses. The book essentially ascribes to the Great Man theory of history by having whole segments of the economy collapse into ruin when people like Rearden get fed up with having to think of anyone other than themselves and go hide in Galt’s Gulch, presumably taking every scrap of documentation and production hardware that enables their innovations with them so that the hapless morons left behind are incapable of continuing to operate their companies.

Conservatives like to imagine themselves as John Galt, or Hank Rearden. Clever inventors with a philosophy degree and a big chip on their shoulder about being asked to bring something to the next company potluck. They position themselves in that role, despite almost universally not being competent or wealthy enough (or both) to fit, because it then enables them to map the book’s bad guys onto our existing government and social structures. The government is bad, and incompetent, and corrupt, and stealing from the “makers” in this country, in order to give benefits to the “takers”, which is basically anybody else who isn’t them (this attitude also has a healthy dose of racist ideology mixed in for good measure). It’s an every-man-for-himself fantasy that plays into the conservative ideology of pure meritocracy and the Just World hypothesis.


That’s the problem with Ayn Rand’s writing and herself. She doesn’t see how much the rich and powerful are rarely Dagny Taggarts or John Galts. In practice, they’re always finding new ways to fleece others. If there’s any character I empathized with in Atlas Shrugged it was Eddie Willers, a guy who was loyal to a fault and never ever questioned the state of things. Even at the end, he was desperate to find Dagny who gave him no clue where she was going and she made no effort to find him again. Like all rich and powerful people, she left him to rot in the designs of her own ruling class. Oddly enough, Galt’s Gulch looks more like a mutualist collective than it does a capitalist paradise which also amused me when I read some mutualist essays after reading Atlas Shrugged. It’s wild to see how close Rand was to becoming a mutualist but the fact her blind admiration for industrial magnates wouldn’t let her evolve to the next step in the thought process.


When we get to the point where it’s commonplace for many Americans to seriously consider that (a) the graduated income tax; (b) social security; © Medicare; (d) the Federal Reserve; (e) unemployment insurance; and (f) workers’ comp, are socialism (if not communism), then the word “socialism” loses all negative value among reasonable people and simply becomes a litimus test for distinguishing “us” (reasonable, decent, considerate folks) from “them” (the malign idiots who voted for and still support the present incumbent).



Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made me set up monthly donations to the DSA. Just saying.
Should add: The proper response is at this point to establish that we’re suffering from perverted socialism as it is: Government handouts to the obscenely wealthy, workers paid so little they need food stamps, and so on and so forth. What’s being called socialism is little more than reversing an extractive economy and making it inclusive – healthy – again.


Perhaps not in your narrow definition of socialism but taxes as the means of production (because all means are money) works fine in my use of the term.

However, lets play your game of the physical substrate of industry which you have enumerated as factories, machinery, mines, land, etc

Our government completely owns the physical substrate of the U.S. mail delivery industry. We own the trucks, the equipment, the bags, all of it. Heck, we even own the roads. We also allow private competition to mail delivery and road construction because we are free that way.

Our government owns the physical substrate of the education industry. Our taxes paid for the land, the building, the teachers, the books. Heck, we even own the means of setting the curriculum. We also allow private competition to the education system because we are free that way.

I can go on for all the other governmental socialist programs that we enjoy in the U.S. but I think you can see enough to understand that we own the physical substrate of pretty much every program our government enacts.

Now, if you want to argue that real socialism is when the government denies all private ownership or operation of the physical substrate of industry, I’d have to call that another No True Scotsman argument and one not germane in any way to the discussion at hand. Failed totalitarian models of socialism are not in play here and likely never will be.


Roger that! He had to censor the first part of the ‘definition’ because it did not correspond with what he wanted us to believe. Only the bit at the end fitted the ideological template.

If you take the big Oxford Dictionary and look up ‘Jewish’ you will find all kinds of unpleasant uses of that word. Usually the more insulting and bigoted meanings are kept for last, and only appear in the biggest edition. But they are there because a dictionary attempts to document language as it is used, rightly and wrongly, by all users.

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This just came across my newsfeed:


Thanks but no thanks - Hillary hand-picked Trump as her Fall Guy, and lost to him anyway! She was a crappy candidate, is a crappy human being (you don’t see Bernie Sanders, say, writing a overpriced, YUGE-publishing advance nastygram to the Democratic Party who fucked him over - no, he’s in there still trying to fix things!), and would have been an even bigger nightmare as a leader, because all she could talk about during the General Election was “Going Toe-to-Toe with Putin”!

Had she been President America would have likely been an irradiated crater by now - as you lot sipped mimosas rather than getting off your ass and protesting.

PS: Yes, Her Damned E-Mails! She at minimum covered up evidence of Foreign Bribery (we know this from the e-mails the FBI either found back-ups of or were able to piece back from her “scrubbed” server!) - and given how freely you fling around the term “Treason” about Trump, it’s not unreasonable to accuse her of the same…


It does not help the cause of a mixed economy when anyone says “capitalism is the cause of our problems” when s/he really means that “unbridled capitalism with regulatory capture is the cause of our problems”. Saying the former can be taken to mean that you want the kind of system where everyone queues up to buy turnips and toilet paper. Bernie’s comment about there are too many kinds of deodorant on the shelves did not endear him to me.

I like me lots of capitalism, but kept below monopoly/oligopoly size, and with a regulatory structure that promotes new entrants into every market and plenty of competition. (Which means I have a real problem with things like Dodd-Frank which promote the opposite). And I like a well-funded social safety net, but with incentives to solve society’s problems rather than the creation of self-perpetuating bureaucracies which survive on never solving them.

So there is no political niche into which I fit…

And by the way, to those people who are wearing Che t-shirts. You are really, really not helping.

There are exactly two things that I think she got right in Atlas, neither of them said by her tiresome heroes or heroines.

“… when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors – when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don’t protect you against them, but protect them against you – when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice – you may know that your society is doomed.”

“There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system.”

If you can honestly say that neither of these quotes predict the 21st century USA, then you and I are not looking at the same country.