Response – Democratic Socialism Doubts

Response – Democratic Socialism Doubts

 

A few weeks back, we published an article here demonstrating that when Bernie Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist, he really is a socialist, seeking to use democratic channels to secure a more socialist society.

Please reread the article.  We believe we were very fair and honest.  

Some, however, have suggested otherwise.  Rather than respond directly to the individuals who have barraged me with questions in the last 3 days, it seems appropriate to answer here.  So, below is the answer we are providing.  It is written somewhat informally, and very long, but answers the questions posed.  What do you think?  Are we right, or just totally off-base, as we’ve been accused of being?

Here goes:

DS Don't think

Okay, so here’s an answer, somewhat long-winded, that should respond the barrage of questions that have been thrown my way in the last couple days.  I’ll try not to offend, hurt feelings or be the jerk you’ve accused me of being.  I have pulled from your comments what I believe are all of your questions.  I will seek to answer each (although I may answer certain questions more fully in a different writing), and hope to do so without appearing to jump all over the place.

I will try to answer your questions as precisely as possible.  Your questions are italicized; my answers follow.  At the end, I share a few additional thoughts.

  1. “You have already proved that Bernie is not a socialist.” You say that I have already contradicted myself by restricting my definition of socialism to “government control of production.”  I never said anything of the sort. I stand by what I wrote that prompted this entire discussion.  Bernie Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist.  He seeks to own, control or regulate much of our economy, not just a part, and not just to provide limited societal protections.  I have never said he wants the government to own everything.  In fact, he has stated many times that is not what he seeks.  But he does seek ownership in some sectors, regulation in others, and/or control in yet others, or use of additional private funds for public benefit.  I only used Bernie’s words, together with those found on the website of the Democratic Socialists of America.  So, there is no contradiction.  None whatsoever.
  2. “You see, it seems to me that he is attempting to combine the two (Capitalism and Socialism) in a fashion that would be beneficial and prosperous to our growth as a Society and a Nation.” Everything I wrote about Sanders was based on his grand speech last year at Georgetown University, defining himself as a democratic socialist.  Nowhere in his entire speech did he mention any derivative of the word “capitalism.”  He is not seeking to combine capitalism and socialism.  He is seeking to create a socialist society through democratic channels.  What “seems to” you is not what Sanders says.  It is funny how so many are putting so much effort into redefining what Sanders “really means.”  Why not take him for his word without having to “interpret” his actual meaning?  Are you so afraid of democracy and socialism?  Or are you afraid it won’t be achieved without disguising it as something else?
  3. “You seem to disagree with this . . . b/c you think he is secretly a closet socialist who is using words to gain a position so he can secretly convert our economy and government.” Bernie Sanders is not a closet socialist.  He is a socialist.  He calls himself a democratic socialist, but a socialist is a socialist.  He seeks to create an economy based on “fairness” to everyone where everyone shares in the successes of private corporations.  He seeks such by using the democratic electoral process to do so.  Thus, democratic socialism.  Now, you suggest I think he wants to “secretly convert our economy and government.”  I think no such thing.  There’s no secret about it.  In that same Georgetown speech, Sanders said exactly what he wants, and there’s no secret about it.  Said Sanders, “[d]emocratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all . . . and that we must reform a political system in America today which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt.”  Nothing secret here.  His statements about converting our economy and government are overt and open, not secret.
  4. “So, based on your own beliefs, this belief that having any form of regulation is socialist, then by your own definition, we are already a socialist nation . . . .correct??? Because we are a country that already has ‘regulations.’  I hope you understand that your beliefs are at conflict with one another.”  No one ever said that no regulations should exist.  Regulations to protect safety, welfare, health, even financial security may be just fine, but socialism seeks, ofttimes through restrictive regulations, to eliminate economic conditions where some feel that others are unfairly better-off because of their financial situation.  We can discuss this further at another time.
  5. “And, somehow you don’t see that. To me, that is . . . . . . scary.”  Why?  If I’m wrong and just totally crazy, what is it that scares you?  You should not fear me at all.  You should just discount me as a wacko and continue sharing your beliefs
  6. “You do understand that there is a strong theory that this situation (which was already bad) got even worse b/c of deregulation?” What situation?  We were not talking about situations, but about ideologies.  One could also argue in the alternative that “this situation” was created by such restrictive regulations and government intrusion where it does not belong.
  7. “So, here is the conundrum. You think regulation is socialist though we already have regulations. You think having regulations is bad. You think our current form of economy and or government is bad……yet you propose no solutions.” Apparently you failed to read the article I wrote.  I wasn’t talking about solutions.  This article was solely for the purpose of demonstrating that when Bernie Sanders says he is a democratic socialist, he really is saying he is a socialist and wants to use the democratic process to further his goals.  That’s all.  Solutions, we can discuss in more detail and depth later.
  8. “With that being said, I am sure you still need to assert that Bernie is a socialist and that somehow socialism is all bad. Such a waste of time imo. If you cannot see that we already have socialist policies and practices in our country, then you are really stuck. Anyways……” If this is such a waste of time, why write so much to me about it?  I have never denied that many “socialist policies and practices in our country” already exist.  I’m just pointing out the fact that what Bernie Sanders (and others, by the way) seeks is a continued path toward more socialist policies and practices.  You and others try to pretend that is not what he wants, when he says it over and over and over.  And, if the current socialist policies are so successful, why hide from the term?
  9. “Bernie has advocated for nothing that we haven’t already done in this country successfully. You don’t realize I suppose that the last great republican was very progressive. Teddy Roosevelt would be considered a socialist by you today and would be unqualified to be commander in chief based on his bizarre beliefs about what socialism is or isn’t.” I do realize exactly that, and agree with you about TR.  But, there you go again, throwing out the R word.  Nowhere do you see me refer to political parties in these writings.
  10. “So in the past you said that the necessary forms of government are police and firemen. The reason you say that that isn’t socialism is because there is no production involved. Isn’t that the same with health care.”    It’s different.  I will discuss this at a different time.  We’re talking Bernie Sanders and democratic socialism here.
  11. “Do me a favor when you follow up my question please explain how the Constitution is written that denies Americans socialized medicine.” The argument is that Congress is authorized to lay and collect taxes, and also to spend that revenue for the general welfare of the nation.  To make things simple, that is the rationale for Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, as held by the Supreme Court back in the 1930s.  I don’t agree – how is it for the general welfare of the entire nation to tax everyone and spend on only a few; to deceive future retirees into believing their retirement is safe and secure, while acknowledging there is no real correlation between the collection of taxes (which many falsely believe are contributions to a retirement account) and the payment of money to retirees for their welfare and healthcare?  But, it’s been so held.  That doesn’t make it right.  How, I ask you, is your freedom preserved to become dependent on the government for more and more, including all your healthcare concerns?  You are not more free – you are more dependent.
  12. “Where does the answer lie?” The answer to this question is very complex, and would require more time and room than I have here.  But, in short, the answers lie in maintaining the rights and freedoms protected by the Constitution, in allowing the free market to work, in not shielding major corporations from liability, in not protecting such corporations in their illegal actions through bailouts, in not subsidizing other corporations, in not using courts to overturn the will of the majority of the nation’s citizens.  And on and on.  But, there are no answers in further descent into socialist policies.  More to come on this.

You disagree with my conclusions, saying I contradict myself and thus am wrong.  You are entitled to your opinions and I respect such.  I have my opinion, which I base on historical interpretations of the United States Constitution, on how our constitutional republic truly functions and specifically on what Bernie Sanders and the Democratic Socialists of America say.  I have seen many written articles saying that Bernie isn’t really what he says he is.  Well, if that’s the case, perhaps he’s a liar, or stupid, and doesn’t deserve your vote.  Rather than think that, I’m taking the guy at his word.  My article was about Bernie, democratic socialism and socialism.  That’s what I’ve addressed here.

You are welcome to disagree with me.  That’s your right.  You are free to seek change to our form of government, to the Constitution, to societal norms and mores.  But, if that’s what you seek, why fear calling your changes what they are?  Why hide behind newly-defined terms and phrases?  Be proud of what you seek.  If you want a pure democracy, which would allow 51% of all voters to regulate and control everything in our nation (including how corporations act}, then stand proud for that desire.  That is socialism, pure and simple.  Why fear it if it is what is best for this nation?

You know, that same democratic socialism you seek could very well backfire on you.  Then, what do you do?  Perhaps your 51% votes to take all profits from those terrible pharma corporations you hate; and then the company on the verge of curing cancer has no money to finish its research; and then you get cancer; and then you ask the government to get that cancer cure instead; and then you realize that nothing in the government moves efficiently; and then you die.

Or, let’s say that you get your 51% vote to regulate fossil fuels out of business; then you realize that the batteries in electric cars are not cheap; then you realize that you cannot afford a new car to carry your tools; then you ask the government to subsidize your purchase of a new car; then you realize that the government money for subsidizing electric vehicle purchases actually came from revenues derived from gasoline taxes; then you can’t get your car; then you can’t make money to buy food; then you get hungry; then you die.

Or, perhaps you get your 51% vote to restrict executive salaries to whatever you deem reasonable.  Then a different 51% votes to restrict the salaries of everyone, including self-employed inspectors, because they still make more money than most people in the nation.  Then, you find yourself with a suddenly-decreased income; then you realize that you cannot afford your house payment; or your medical insurance; then you realize that if you move into your other house in the mountains, that you cannot commute because your electric vehicle loan payments are too high and you spend all your time on the road; then you realize you need the government to help you with food, housing, health, education for your children; then you find yourself fully dependent on government welfare; then you are stuck; then, eventually you die.

You see what happens here?  Bernie Sanders wants a pure democracy to further his socialist ideals.  There’s no way any of it is good for this nation, for the economy, for me, for you, for our children, for our grandchildren.  No way.  That’s why I oppose it.  I will discuss this in a more detailed manner in the future.  For now, our interest is whether there is a difference between socialism and democratic socialism.

 

What is Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Socialism?

What is Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Socialism?

Socialism.  It’s such a scary word, isn’t it.  Did you think the word and the ideal died with the fall of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics?  It didn’t; we just stopped talking about it as often.

Many in the media, and perhaps even some of your friends, have become very vocal about Bernie Sanders and a different political movement he claims to subscribe to, called democratic socialism.  They seek to contrast it with that evil form of socialism, called, coincidentally, socialism.  You’ll hear over and over that they are two thoroughly different political ideologies.  They’ll even try and scare you by saying that you are thinking about “Marxist socialism.” Any political “ism” forced upon the world by a guy with a K and an X in his name must be terrible.

But, toned down, and called democratic, it sounds so much less threatening, doesn’t it?

So, what is the difference between the two ideologies?  Why does one provoke fear of tyrannical, dictatorial governments while the other is invoked as the answer to all of our nation’s woes by the winner of last night’s Democrat primary, possibly the next President of the United States?

A quick Google search provides the following basic definition:

Socialism: a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.

This definition conforms with Karl Marx’s definition of socialism as set forth in The Communist Manifesto.

For the sake of clarity, let’s define the relevant terms contained in the definition above:

Means:  an action or system by which a result is brought about; a method.

Production:  the action of making or manufacturing from components or raw materials, or the process of being so manufactured.

Distribution:  the action of sharing something out among a number of recipients; the way in which something is shared out among a group or spread over an area; the action or process of supplying goods to stores and other businesses that sell to consumers.

Exchange:  an act of giving one thing and receiving another (especially of the same type or value) in return.

Ownership:  the act, state, or right of possessing something.

Regulation:  a rule or directive made and maintained by an authority.

Community:  a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.

Community as a whole:  a government.

In short, socialism is government ownership and/or regulation of the method of production, distribution and exchange within a community.  Socialism doesn’t sound so bad, does it?  What can be so terrifying about owning a little piece of the pie?

Why then are politicians like Bernie Sanders doing all they can to convince us they are not actual socialists?  Why do they find it necessary to clarify that they are not advocating that the “government” own everything?  So, what are they then, if not socialist?

They are democratic socialists, of course.  Don’t you feel better now?  Anything based in democratic principles must be safe.

What, then, is democratic socialism?  Bernie Sanders, speaking at Georgetown University last year, outlined his democratic socialist beliefs.   He stated unapologetically the following:That the government should provide Medicare for everyone in the nation;

  • That a college and university education should be free to everyone in the nation;
  • That the federal government should mandate a minimum wage of at least $15 per hour for everyone in the nation;
  • That the federal government should guarantee employment to everyone in the nation;
  • That everyone in the nation, by way of a significant estate tax, should benefit financially from the death of billionaires and millionaires;
  • That today’s political system is unfair to nearly everyone in the nation; and
  • That oil and energy companies are heating the earth to extremes that will be harmful to everyone in the nation.

Sounds a lot like Bernie Sanders is advocating that the “community as a whole” seek to own or regulate nearly the entire U.S. economy.  But, in spite of his actual words, we continue to hear and read that because we have nothing to fear, and that no one is advocating that the government take control of the means of production, distribution and exchange.

But his is just political doublespeak, isn’t it?  Bernie Sanders is just saying what is necessary to differentiate himself from Hillary Clinton, right?

Since Sanders is a politician, shouldn’t we be careful with what he says and fact-check his statements about his political beliefs?  Where can we find the accurate definition we seek?  Let’s go directly to what may be best source we can find – the Democratic Socialists of America (“DSA”).

The DSA website states the following:

“We are socialists because we reject an economic order based on private profit, alienated   labor, gross inequalities of wealth and power, discrimination based on race and sex, and brutality and violence in defense of the status quo. We are socialists because we share a vision of a humane social order based on popular control of resources and production, economic planning, equitable distribution, feminism, racial equality and non-oppressive relationships. We are socialists because we are developing a concrete strategy for achieving that vision, for building a majority movement that will make democratic socialism a reality in America.”

DSA further states that:

At the root of our socialism is a profound commitment to democracy, as means [to    an] end” and that since “[w]e are unlikely to see an immediate end to capitalism, DSA           fights for reforms today that will weaken the power of corporations and increase the power of working people.”

“We are activists committed to democracy as not simply one of our political values but      our means of restructuring society. Our vision is of a society in which people have a real voice in the choices and relationships that affect the entirety of our lives. We call this   vision democratic socialism – a vision of a more free, democratic and humane society.”

There you have it – the DSA itself defines democratic socialism as the means to end capitalism and ultimately reach a state of actual socialism. 

Democratic socialism, then, is nothing more than using elections and votes to secure government control (through ownership and regulation) of nearly the entire economic system of the United States – energy, healthcare, education, telecommunications and media, manufacturing and even the service sector.

The goal of democratic socialism is socialism, plain and simple.  Perhaps not through the violent coups and conflicts of yesteryear, but by convincing voters that they are deserving of and have rights to control of the means of production, distribution and exchange.

So, when your friends tell you that Bernie Sanders and others should not be feared, now you know that democratic socialists and socialists are one and the same.  If you fear socialism, you should fear democratic socialists.

Beware!

Once your friends realize they cannot win the socialist/democratic socialist argument, they will immediately begin to rationalize socialist policies by naming programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid as successful implementations of socialism.  They will further state erroneously that the Constitution actually condones socialism by authorizing expenditures of government funds for military and defense, police and fire departments.

When they realize they cannot win their argument that a democratic socialist is not a socialist, they will instead begin to rationalize socialism.  Do not fall for these lies either.

Our next essay will address these claims and help you better understand what socialism is, what it isn’t and how it affects the economics of a nation.

For today, remember – A DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST IS STILL A SOCIALIST.

 

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