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

It’s true that not all socialism ends in the tyranny of Leninism or Stalinism or Maoism or Castroism or Ba’athism or Chavezism or the Khmer Rouge—but most of it does. And no, Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t intend to set up gulags in Alaska. Most “democratic” socialists—the qualifier affixed to denote that they live in a democratic system and have no choice but to ask for votes—aren’t consciously or explicitly endorsing violence or tyranny. But when they adopt the term “socialism” and the ideas associated with it, they deserve to be treated with the kind of contempt and derision that all those adopting authoritarian philosophies deserve.

Another reason that socialism is less of a dirty word is, paradoxically, successful marketing by conservatives. They’ve spent decades insisting that every economic position to their left is “socialist,” but didn’t expect that the popularity of these positions would be more popular than the socialism was unpopular.

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I don’t understand. You explicitly state that socialism does not necessarily imply tyranny, and that democratic socialists don’t intend tyranny, but they still deserve to be treated as though they do? Why?

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I like the word “comrade”. I like its implication of fellowship, and as an honorific it has the excellent qualities of both class- and gender-neutrality: even that mass-murdering narcissist Uncle Joe was Comrade Stalin to one and all.

If we can reclaim “socialism” – and even “communism” – from the tankies, maybe we can reclaim “comrade”.

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Even the libertarian socialists, who were calling themselves that for decades before the October revolution?

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I think the differences are a lot bigger than what you’re suggesting here. A socialist system has the means of production controlled by the government. A social democracy still has (most*) of the means of production run via a market economy, and just harnesses some of the surplus that it produces to provide things like health care, education, a decent standard of living, and a social safety net.

*Things that are natural geographic monopolies (roads, utilities, etc. ) are pretty clearly better off being run as municipal utilities. Basic research is also something that is apparently done better by a government. OTOH, most other things are not nearly as amenable to centralized control and planning.

Which I am fully in support of, and which project I think is being damaged by calling FDR-like social democrat policies “socialist.”

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I’m not all that worried about it. The kind of American who immediately gets frightened by the word “socialist” tends to be the kind of low-information/low-education voter who wouldn’t support an establishment Dem politician let alone one supported by Our Revolution or the DSA.

The idea that the Know-Nothing 27% in the U.S. will suddenly wake up and recognise that social democracy will deliver more to them than it would to a privileged liberal coastal elite like me is a left-wing romantic fantasy. For the immediate future they have to be written off while we work on the project of replacing Third Way policy and politicians with social democratic ones in the duopoly party of the left.

For voters who are capable of drawing the distinction between the two despite having conflated them under the category “socialism” after decades of propaganda and who are know the history of the New Deal there is hope for change.

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And their position has been moving to the right, increasing the number of things to their left.

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It depends on how you ask the question. If you couch it in antiquated, marxist-inflected language, of course nobody agrees with that.

But if you ask “Who should get to decide how a factory is run: the guy who holds the deed, or everyone who works there?” you might be surprised at how socialist the responses are.

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I mean, capitalism worked so well in Sudan, the Congo, Ethiopia, and India, let’s totally implement an ideology that mostly brings misery and death (‘b-b-but, Amerikkka’) to the nations that practice it.

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Socialism without anarchism, if at all thinkable, would lead mankind into a slavery probably worse than the present: into a rule of bureaucracy by the grace of god. Anarchism without socialism is not even thinkable, for that would be equivalent to a struggle of all against all […] and which would soon annihilate mankind. There is only one road to the development of mankind: free communism that unites in itself both socialism and anarchism.

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Where’s the infrastructure plan? Where’s better and cheaper healthcare for all? where are the tax cuts that exclusively benefit the working and middle class? All progressives need to win is run on Donald’s populist proposals. We call infrastructure public investment and public services that the majority supports and ignore right wing labeling. Classic socialism of government ownership and control of primary industries is out of date. It’s now more of the “administrative state” that Steve Bannon wants to destroy.
The problem in American is that the ultra rich have now moved into another dimension leaving the rest of us with the falling standard of living they hardly care about. In real terms we get only the government handouts, paid for by deficit spending to be paid by those who will have less ability to do so. We get only what we’re begrudgingly given. Think of most of us as ants at the picnic of the rich.

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You pegged it. What they are selling is a nicely wrapped present with appealing catchwords like “equality”. “fairness”, and “prosperity”. But when you open the box, the only thing in there is a ratty old copy of “We Shall go to Moscow Not With Ten Banners, But With Only One, With the Banner of Marxism-Leninism!”.

If they don’t intend for the workers to control the means of production, they should not put it in their constitution as article 2.

I mean… getting the answer you want by weighting the question isn’t exactly a win. The question is whether a well-informed populace would want it.

Sure, we can trick people into a position, but that just makes a farce out of democracy - something we have far too much of already.

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A few points regarding the DSA:

  1. The DSA is, first and foremost, a democratic organisation. DSA policy is decided on via the votes of the membership.

  2. Although there is a diversity of opinion amongst the membership, they are overall a socialist organisation. That is, they seek to achieve worker control of the means of production.

  3. The primary focus of the DSA is in hands-on community building. Brake light repairs, food aid, hurricane relief, tenant support, protest action, etc.

  4. Secondary to that is the other thing they do: endorse electoral candidates. DSA endorsement does imply a general alignment with the goals of the organisation, but it does not necessarily imply that the endorsee is themselves a socialist. The DSA routinely endorses social democratic candidates.

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That would be the job of the central committee.

“Another great challenge faced by socialism is the fact that for some time, a large part of the population still has to spend most of the time working to produce the requirements of society. This limits their ability to participate fully in all the different spheres in society. Other sections of society will be in a better position and more trained to engage in political discourse. For both these reasons, simply throwing every question in society “up for grabs” in an election would throw the door wide open to the restoration of the old society based on exploitation”. -Revolution #68, 2006.

This is hardly a situation unique to socialist societies. There is no large scale government on earth that puts every possible question of policy or spending up to popular vote. Nor is there any private profit-driven system that leaves every possible question of product development up to the consumer.

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heh heh heh heh…you said butt flowers!

36%20PM

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