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

I’m condemning the right-wingers who took on the text as their Bible and the heroes therein as their aspirational avatars. I condemn the text itself as a sub-par scientific-romance potboiler with a childish ideology that has obvious appeals to right-wingers. If the American right hadn’t taken them on as the basis of Objectivism the books and their author would have been relegated to well-deserved obscurity decades ago.


All the better reason to undermine their claim to those Avatars by documenting how their own behaviors parallel the anti-heroes of the book, and not the heroes. By just slamming the book you hand them their prize.

There are plenty of real-life examples I can point to of how they fail to live up to their ideals without wasting time with taking examples from fantasy fiction.


That’s not the point. The point is they are taking up the text and saying “Hey - this is us!”. Undermining that with their actual leach like sponging behavior does more damage to the base of their rhetoric than just pointing at “hey, you were a dick over here”. Use their own tools to crack them over the head.

To which I usually reply “yes, you’re someone who fancies himself a tycoon in a fantasy novel but who knows nothing about running a business in the real world.”


I find it sort of, but not really, entertaining to watch people define ‘socialism’ as something other than what it is. It’s like saying “Autocratic theocracy is not really about absolute power of the church. It’s really very similar to an atheist anarchy!”

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I have always wondered who unblocked the toilets in Gault’s Gulch? Or maybe the super competent visionaries dont do poops which block toilets?


John Galt must have solved the problem with an anti-pooping alloy. A shame he didn’t sell the secret with Andrew Ryan.


To which I would reply “yes, you’re someone who fancies himself a tycoon in a fantasy novel but you are actually more like the fantasy novel’s grifting freeloaders.”

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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).