Democratic Socialism

Source: Wikipedia.

The phrase democratic socialism gets a favorable mention from time to time here at Tidewater Forum. I thought it might be worthwhile to define the concept.

Wikipedia does a fair job of definition. It also reveals some features of the concept that many proponents of democratic socialism probably would disavow. For example:

“Democratic socialists argue that capitalism is inherently incompatible with the values of freedom, equality, and solidarity and that these ideals can only be achieved through the realization of a socialist society.”

My own view is that democracy and socialism are inherently incompatible, whereas democracy and capitalism are inherently capable of coexistence. That is, democracy and capitalism may not be made for one another, but they can function together, whereas democracy and socialism cannot.

34 thoughts on “Democratic Socialism

  1. This is a Wikipedia article. The statement you expect to be disavowed is, in fact, bullshit.

    Democracy – broadly speaking – is a theory of political organization that says the decisions and actions of the government are determined by and answerable to a majority of citizens. What is it about “socialism” that makes it incompatible with that theory?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What is it about “socialism” that makes it incompatible with [democracy]?

      Socialism is based on collective ownership. Every time the interests of a democratic minority are overruled, the minority’s portion of collective ownership is nullified.

      What is it about the Wikipedia quote in my post that makes it bullshit?

      Like

      1. “Socialism is based on collective ownership.”

        You are thinking of either Communism or Christianity.

        “Socialism” is about collective ownership of major productive assets such as mines, railroads, factories. Private property and small businesses are part of a socialist political system. “Democratic socialists” are not actually “socialists.”

        Your attempt to explain why socialism and democracy are not compatible only shows that you do not understand democracy. A political system does not cease being a democracy because YOU do not get what YOU want on a particular issue.

        You ask, “What is it about the Wikipedia quote in my post that makes it bullshit?”
        Easy. It is a statement of fact that is OBVIOUSLY false. It MIGHT be true for “Communists,” but it is NOT true for “Socialists” and even less so for “Democratic Socialists.”

        Whether through ignorance or dishonesty, treating “Democratic Socialism” and “Communism” as synonyms is a dog that will not hunt not matter how many times he is sent out.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “A political system does not cease being a democracy because YOU do not get what YOU want on a particular issue.”

          Nor does a dictatorship cease being a dictatorship becaue I get what I want sometimes.

          In any case, I predicted that many who have a favorable view of democratic socialism would object to features of the concept that Wikipedia describes. You prove the point by asserting (irrelevantly) that socialism is “about collective ownership” of some things but not others.

          Please get back to us when you can raise your game above arguing semantics.

          Like

          1. Semantics?

            semantics: the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning.

            Words have meanings. Logic is not possible when those meanings are not respected. YOU get back to us when you learn to use those meanings when expressing your thoughts.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. RE: “Words have meanings.”

            Yes, they do. Both to encyclopedia writers and to Humpty Dumpties. You choose to argue with the encyclopedia writers.

            Like

          3. LOL!

            Since you do not write encyclopedias you can ignore what words mean. How conveeeeenient!

            Mixed in with your nonsense and insults there is nothing approaching a logical reason or a scintilla of evidence to support your assertion “that democracy and socialism are inherently incompatible.” In the real world, the countries closest to what you think socialism is (e.g., Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Costa Rica, Japan) are also much closer to the democratic ideal than we are AND their people live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives than most of us can even dream of.

            Oh, well. Another day. Another “discussion” based on alternative realities leading nowhere. Sigh.

            Liked by 1 person

          4. RE: “In the real world, the countries closest to what you think socialism is…”

            You can’t possibly know what I think socialism is, because I haven’t said. Your assertions are therefore based, literally, on ignorance.

            Like

          5. “You can’t possibly know what I think socialism is, because I haven’t said. Your assertions are therefore based, literally, on ignorance.”

            You are a real dope. So eager to be insulting that you do not bother to think. In this case, I have a very good idea of what you think “socialism” is. How? Am I a mind reader? Uh, that would be no. In case you have forgotten you posted a link to an article about socialism and then added . . . “Wikipedia does a fair job of definition.” So, what you think socialism is, is actually the subject of this thread. Duh!

            I was trying to discuss your assertion “that democracy and socialism are inherently incompatible” but you are obviously not up to defending it with evidence or logical thinking, so out come the diversions and insults.

            Liked by 1 person

          6. RE: “I was trying to discuss your assertion ‘that democracy and socialism are inherently incompatible'”

            I substantiated that assertion. Your response was to argue semantics. But here is the substantiation again, if you’d like to take another try:

            Socialism is based on collective ownership. Every time the interests of a democratic minority are overruled, the minority’s portion of collective ownership is nullified.

            This time, I’ll add that collective ownership is a commonality between socialism and communism and has nothing to do with Christianity. So put aside your semantics and address the substantiation of my assertion itself.

            Like

          7. You are simply repeating the same dubious answer. The fact that a minority ends up paying a tax that it did not approve of does not generate an incompatibility between socialism and democracy. Capitalist systems have taxes too, you know. The same argument says capitalism and democracy are incompatible for the same reason. In other words, this asserted difference in compatibility is nonsense. The reality is that democracy is compatible with both systems and most especially with the blended systems of most modern countries, including our own.

            And, I would add that instead of dealing with the EVIDENCE of very democratic countries with “socialist” policies, you try to pretend that I am ignorant because I cannot possibly know what you think. (Except, of course, by what you write.)

            If you know anything about the history of early Christianity or have an understanding Christ’s teaching, you would not so cavalierly reject the point – Christianity is just as “collectivist” as Communism – IN THEORY. Both believe in community ownership of everything. In theory. In practice, not so much.

            Liked by 1 person

          8. RE: “The fact that a minority ends up paying a tax that it did not approve of does not generate an incompatibility between socialism and democracy.”

            Actually, it does, uniquely. If the conceit is that other people own my property (socialism), then the tax I disapprove of amounts to a democratic taking. Where private property is the rule (capitalism) the tax I disapprove of is still a democratic taking but there can be no inherent presumption of legitimacy. The incompatibility is exactly as I stated: It is not “democratic” to take from others.

            As for communalism in Christianity, there is no theological basis for it. In fact, Christian theology in its earliest forms was highly in favor of private property. You can see this in the Lord’s Prayer, if you need an example.

            Like

          9. Your attempt to find that democracy and socialism are not compatible, but democracy and socialism are compatible is still more nonsense.

            Now you admit that in either system property can be taken but that when a socialist government does it, it is legitimate because it was not your property to begin with. And when a capitalist government does it, it is NOT legitimate because they are taking YOUR property.

            All I can say in response is Huh?

            As for core Christian beliefs I think you are talking about modern perversions of Christ’s teachings such as the “prosperity gospel” of many American Evangelical leaders. Christ’s actual teaching, the words in red in many Bibles, and the organization of the earliest Christian communities tell a different story. He was and they were – in today’s terms – literally commune-ists. They lived together and shared ALL their property for the benefit of the group. That is the simple fact of the matter. Look it up.

            Liked by 1 person

          10. “Please get back to us when you can raise your game above arguing semantics”

            Pot, meet kettle. You live in a semantic world and then accuse others of doing the same thing. Very Trumpian of you; accusing others of that which you do.

            Liked by 1 person

        2. Why do you liberals always try to obfuscate socialisms numerous types into one definition. Democratic socialism does not exercise ownership over industries but seeks to tax, tax, tax..steal money from the successful to dole out to the unsuccessful. Collectivism through theft. It is probably society’s moral responsibility to care for children, disabled or the elderly who can’t care for themselves but it is NO ones responsibility to care for idlers, illegal aliens or those that refuse to acclimate to society. You know, all the darlings of the left wing loonies.

          Like

          1. Obfuscate?

            Clarity and accuracy in the use of words is the opposite.

            It is YOUR desire to lump everything under one INACCURATE fear-mongering heading that leads to nuttiness such as lumping Venezuela, the USSR and Denmark in the same basket.

            As for “moral responsibility” we probably are not as far apart as you think. The difference lies in a realistic view of what happens to society if we let people and especially children suffer in poverty without hope or prospects of a better life. You see the people who can overcome such deficits and are blind to the far more numerous who simply cannot.

            Then there is the elephant in the room – our broken health-care system. You may think that Medicare-for-all is “socialism” and “theft,” but, in fact, it is simply a far more rational way to administer and pay for services that everyone is going to get one way or another. We have the experience of EVERY other advanced country to teach us that we can do far, far better for our people by replacing what clearly does not work.

            Liked by 1 person

        3. RE: “Why do you liberals always try to obfuscate socialism’s numerous types into one definition?”

          I don’t know. I suspect that many people like the idea of socialism, but don’t understand or can’t defend the basic economics. Putting the word “democratic” in front of the word “socialism” may be a type of coping strategy, a way of saying, “I don’t know what socialism is, but if it is democratic I’m all for it.”

          An alternative to “democratic” socialism would be “authoritarian” socialism. In my view, all socialist systems tend to evolve toward the authoritarian model for the simple reason that it takes an authoritarian state to take from one person to give to another.

          Like

  2. People like Paul and Ken attempt to change the subject of Democratic Socialism by throwing out definintions of other forms of pure socialism to claim it doesn’t exist here. In short, Democratic Socialism uses extreme taxation to take from one group to pass out to another. Remember Obama’s “share the wealth”? While it may be moral to care for those that can’t like kids, disabled and elderly, it is NOT society’s responsibility to feed, house, clothe and pamper the lazy neer-do-wells, illegal aliens, baby factories, gen-Z or any other leech on society. Idiot Democrats even go so far as to want to pay lazy phone junkies a “basic income” to sit at home, eat delivered fast food and play games at others expense. Screw them!!! No work, you get nada. All every form of socialism does is create a lazy unproductive non-workforce and eventually collapses because,other people’s money runs out. It has happened over and over and will never succeed.

    Like

    1. RE: “In short, Democratic Socialism uses extreme taxation to take from one group to pass out to another.”

      I’m not sure which is more important, the taxation or the redistribution. Both are varieties of “socializing” resources.

      I go back to Wikipedia’s definition: “Democratic socialism is a political philosophy that supports political democracy within a socially owned economy, with a particular emphasis on economic democracy, workplace democracy, and workers’ self-management within a market socialist economy, or an alternative form of decentralised planned socialist economy.”

      The key problem is “a socially owned economy,” whether it is democratic or not. To my mind it is impossible for society to own anything, because society is not a person with consciousness or free will.

      Like

      1. “To my mind it is impossible for society to own anything, because society is not a person with consciousness or free will.”

        Okay. To your mind, who owns the highways, streets, bridges, aircraft carriers, public universities, VA hospitals, national parks, state parks, city parks, military bases, federal buildings, State Houses, courts, etc., etc., etc., etc..

        Liked by 1 person

        1. RE: “To your mind, who owns the highways, streets, bridges, aircraft carriers…”

          In every case you’ll find some sort of legally defined organization is the owner. In fact, that’s the point.

          Like

        2. First off none of those are industries capable of producing wealth. Second they are all tax payer funded essential and nonessential services that none are “owned” by society. What is your point.

          Like

  3. “extreme taxation ”

    The healthiest, happiest, most fulfilled and MOST HEAVILY TAXED people in the world are in those countries with “socialist” programs for health care, education, income security and old age. How can that be? Because the taxes that those people pay accrue to their benefit. Our situation is very different with our much lower taxes buying us next to nothing that we need or want. The fact that $800 billion for our bloated DOD flies through Congress without opposition while much smaller spending for roads, bridges, tunnels, and infrastructure gets massive opposition demonstrates the real problem – BAD PRIOITIES arising from a money-driven political system.

    I am aware of “communist” countries whose economies collapsed – USSR comes to mind, but which “socialist” countries are you referring to when you say they always collapse? Other than the UK in the post-war years, I cannot think of any country that has even tried “socialism” in a serious way. European countries that nationalized major firms gave that up many decades ago and sold those firms back to the private sector.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well Cuba and Venezualia come to mind right off the bat but there are many more.
      As far as the “happiest”, I don’t buy left wing claims of anything being utopian, glorious, angelic or their perception of others being “happy”. If you like living in a box with a mini-fridge and a toilet within arms reach of the bed, by all means move to your socialist mecca of choice. Having traveled extensively in Europe, I never came across any of these “happy” people except at the end of a wine filled dinner and that was only temporary.

      Like

      1. LOL!

        Cuba and Venezuela? Is that all you got?

        Cuba’s economy has been crippled for sixty years by American policy. Hardly a test of “socialism.” And despite crippling sanctions, the people of Cuba fare better than people in MANY otherwise similar countries with mainly “capitalist” systems. Their GDP per person is HIGHER than Haiti, Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Dominica, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras and Nicaragua.

        Venezuela’s economic collapse had little to do with socialism. The opposite in fact – too much of the nation’s wealth in the hands of too few people and not managed for the benefit of ordinary people leading to destabilizing and damaging social unrest. Developments WE should learn from.

        Your citing these countries would be a close analogy to me saying that the sorry state of Guatemala and Honduras proves that capitalism leads to economic failure.

        As for Europe, believe what you want. I believe my own experience living and working there for seven years and COUNTLESS surveys of relative happiness, health, and UPWARD economic mobility. Yes, upward mobility is EASIER in those “socialist” countries than it is here.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. …”Cuba and Venezualia come to mind right off the bat”…

        That is part of the issue; you disregard the European countries that are Democratic Socialist run and the folks there are happy, healthy and doing quite well.

        You self-avowed conservatives only refer to those countries that have been overrun by tyrannical leaders and use them as the only example you can come up with.

        Like the news, if it bleeds it leads. Therefore you look no further than the ugliest of the ugly.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. Tired? So sad.

            Your “addressing” Europe consists of repeating your ill-founded beliefs and ignoring the evidence. Can’t face the truth. Life for most people in those “socialist” countries is far sweeter than life for most people in our country.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. If you are going to prop up Cuba, who boasts an average monthly wage of less than $50 a month while a significant percentage live on dirt floors in corrugated metal shanties, as some Latin American success story, I can’t begin to address the rest of your BS with a straight face.

    Like

    1. I cited facts that you don’t like? Oh my!

      It is a FACT that with all its problems – most caused by American economic sanctions – the Cuban people are doing better economically than the people of many, many other similar countries. You want to blame their problems on “socialism.” The same logic says you should blame problems in other countries of the region on “capitalism.” And, BTW, if you did so, you would not be wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I love the smell of desperation in the evening.

          These statistics are virtually meaningless because the economies they represent are so different. You should have cottoned on to that when you saw the average monthly income for Venezuela.

          But in any event, none of these statistics prove your claim that the cause of ANY of their problems is “socialism.” I could point to cherry-picked countries from this list to demonstrate how “capitalism” is failing. It is meaningless and not worth the effort to try.

          Fun facts – Cuba has:
          Higher life expectancy than Americans
          Significantly LOWER infant mortality.
          Far more hospital beds per capita

          https://www.nationmaster.com/country-info/compare/Cuba/United-States/Health

          Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s