An Exploration of Democratic Socialism

An Exploration of Democratic Socialism


Some define communism as a more extreme form of socialism. Most countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have government programs in place that came from socialist ideals. One of the most notable differences between communism and socialism is that the former is a political system while the latter is an economic system.

Karl Marx, the founder of communism, was angered by the gap that continued to grow between the rich and the poor. Marx believed that capitalism exploited workers and they would rise up against the rich because the poor were treated unfairly. Communism is based on the principles believed to be necessary to repair the damage caused by capitalism. The primary principle of communism is that personal or private ownership of property should not be allowed. According to Marx, private ownership encouraged greed and motivated competition over coöperation. Property should belong to everyone and the people should have control over the economy. Marx believed the government should help with the transition between capitalism and communism.

Socialism, however, puts the primary means of production in control of the people directly or through the government. The principles of socialism are in-tune with communism concerning wealth being shared by the people equally. However, socialists do not believe that private property should not be allowed.

The main goal of socialism is to narrow the gap between the rich and the poor, but not eliminate it. The government is responsible for redistributing the wealth so society is more fair and even. Socialists do not believe the workers would rise up against the government in defense of the poor.

The U.S. is not 100 percent capitalist. There is a Social Security System in place, and the postal service is government-owned. China is not 100 percent communist. The government allows their citizens to keep some of their earnings. There are differing governing and economic systems today that use a mixture of structure styles, such as “Democratic Socialism.”

Democratic socialism is a relatively new term for many. This platform believes society and the economy are to be run democratically to meet the needs of the people.

It is recognized by many Americans that both the government and the economic structures are in need of immediate and effective change. This democratic society is simply a name until it is truly put to the test by meeting needs and not catering to the rich, most commonly known as the one-percenters. The objective of democratic socialism is to create a fair community by dramatically changing economic and government structures. The idea of a democratic society is that everyday Americans have a say in things that change their lives. Additionally, socialism makes certain the people are all empowered through real equal opportunity.

It is common to find governments using democracy and socialism together. It is believed that the melding of socialism and democracy have not been accepted in the U.S. due to falsely taught beliefs about socialism that seemed to have taken hold in people’s minds.

Does Socialism Mean the Government Will Take Everything?

Democratic socialists are not interested in big government or big corporations running things. Economic and social decisions should be determined by those affected by the outcome. The intent of socialism is for resources to meet needs across the board and even the playing field. Consumers and workers who are the most affected by economic institutions should be in control and own them, such as credit unions.

Has Socialism Been Discredited Due to the Collapse of Communism?

Democratic socialism does not support ruling-party states, just as it is opposed to the ruling classes of capitalist societies. Improving America and the lives of its citizens requires a democracy free of ethnic competition or any authoritarianism. Not all things radical are communist. It is believed by some that dismissing socialism negates the promise of America as the land of opportunity and the freedoms granted by the Constitution, such as speech and assembly.

Big Corporations Seem to Be Firmly Planted, How Would Socialism Handle this Issue?

Although big corporations cannot be completely eliminated, they can be regulated in a more democratic manner. The use of tax incentives can be used to spur corporations to think about public interest and stop destructive actions, such as outsourcing and polluting the environment. There may also be the need for government regulations to reassure the public that corporations will be held accountable. Unions are a big part of the public pressure that helps to keep companies honest.

Will Socialism Cause People to Lose the Motivation to Work?

It is not the belief of democratic socialists that people only work to prevent starvation or for monetary excellence. People should work because they enjoy it and it is meaningful to them. Some people work due to a sense of responsibility to society. There will always be undesirable jobs that need to be done. These should be spread among many people, not left for those who are of certain classes, races, ethnicities, or genders. Work that is not appealing should be among the most rewarded work within the economy, not the least. It is the responsibility of the employer to encourage workers to want to do these jobs by offering higher pay, benefits, and to improve the environment of the workplace.

There Are Not Any Models of Democratic Socialism.

Correct. There is not a country that has a government that runs with democratic socialism ideals entirely. However, there have been victories among socialist parties and labor movements in many other countries. There is a lot to learn from an inclusive welfare state that is used in Sweden, Canada’s health care system, France’s childcare program, and the literacy programs offered in Nicaragua, all once referred to as, socialism. Even the U.S. offers health centers in multiple communities, created by the government in the ‘60s. These centers provide quality care for the family and the community is involved in what these clinics offer its patients.

Has the European Democratic Socialism Experiment Failed?

Several European countries have greater prosperity and economic equality from policies put in place by social democracy. The wealth obtained by these nations was used to bring about a higher standard of living for the people, that included higher pay, healthcare for all, and subsidized education. However, these countries have to compete with low-wage labor markets in developing countries, leaving social democrats with a fear of companies moving to avoid paying taxes, or save money using low-wage employees. Overpowering labor regulations have made it difficult for nations to create their own economic reform.

This is the reason for democratic socialism to become an international movement. There are multinational corporations that must be under democratic regulation. The organizing efforts of workers have to stretch across the borders because the welfare of workers in Finland and California is dependent on Italy or Indonesia. Each person, state, or government, and each decision of world leaders has a significant impact on everything else. It is a ripple effect. Just like a rock thrown into a pond the ripples can move out quite far, depending on the size of the rock. It is about coming together and not being divided by the size of a paycheck.

Democratic socialists are well aware the American country, land of opportunity for the few, has lost its way. Policies will be changed a little at a time and that rock will grow bigger so the ripples reach further. An LGBT amendment here, higher wages there, and a single-payer healthcare system will expand that rock a little at a time. It is a daily endeavor. It is not giving up personal power or lifestyle. It is simply about equality, a word that has rung in every nation throughout each generation since the beginning of time.

By Jeanette Smith


US History: Comparing Economic Systems
Democratic Socialists of America: What is Democratic Socialism? Q & A
CNN: Sanders cites American icons in defense of ‘democratic socialism’
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