Friday, December 22, 2023

Democratic Socialism


We hear it all the time from Trump and his fanatical cult followers.

Democrats and any others who oppose him or seek to hold him accountable to the rule of law are smeared as “Communist/socialist/fascist/racists”. The racist accusation is for any Black prosecutor or Attorney General who would apply just punishment for his crimes.

Clearly, all these derogatory terms are cast without regard to their actual definitions.  They are simply words meant to convey their rabid indoctrinated hate for anyone who dares oppose their cult leader.

One phrase we NEVER hear from them is Democratic Socialism.

This is the term Bernie Sanders uses to identify his political positions.

Democratic Socialism is the idea of a government of, by and for the people in service to the public interests and general welfare of its population. It is defined by the ideal and application of a democratic republic based on fair elections and fair representation for its citizens.

It is NOT “Marxism, communism or fascism”.

We hear the radical Right howl, “Hitler was a socialist! The Nazi party has socialist in it name!”

That is how they will dismiss any further discussion of the matter.

Hitler joined a small party that used "socialism" in its name. Hitler was a fascist, and nothing like a democratic socialist. Nazis didn't gain power by promoting ideals of representative democracy, and public services like healthcare and education. They HATED labor unions. It was about power, retribution, antisemitism, racism, militarism and a police state.

They outlawed reproductive freedom for women and homosexuality. Then their Holocaust proved to be the OPPOSITE of socialism. It's called GENOCIDE.

Communists call themselves socialists because it sounds less dictatorial. Dictatorship is not social democracy. Is dictatorial communist North Korea a Democratic Republic because they say it is? No.

And that is key.

Dictators run dictatorships, NOT democratic socialistic societies.

Democracy is what defines democratic socialism. Public healthcare and public education and public utilities along with other public services that support what we believe should be RIGHTS of the people to fair elections and representation, to the public good, to the general welfare.

In fact, the US Constitution is democratic socialist in nature. It calls for democratic elections of leaders and peaceful transfer of power, with limits placed on govt. power in our Bill of Rights.

The US Constitution calls for taxes, regulation of commerce, and provision for the general welfare. ALL of this is called socialism or even communism by the American radical Right. They don't want to admit what is in our foundation of law.

Sweden, Denmark, Finland and other western European countries have such elements of democratic socialism. The right will try to deny this or say they are “failing” despite the level of happiness in those countries are far above what is in the US. They are healthier and better educated. Having the RIGHT to healthcare and education helps assure this.

When Americans speak of democratic socialism, we mean the ideals in our Declaration of Independence and foundation of law in the Constitution. The right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness", (including healthcare and education), equality under law, and a "more perfect union" were, and are, the goals.  A path toward those ideals was made by allowing a process to amend the Constitution.

So the Right will evade any discussion of the actual meaning of democratic socialism. They need to redefine or completely fabricate the meanings of words.

A refusal to agree on definitions of words is a large part of the problem. 

Communication and compromise break down when one side demonizes and defines the other to its propaganda message. It is always the authoritarian side that benefits from the twisting of terms.

Orwell covered this in "1984" with "newspeak" and the destruction of language. It was a warning, not a guidebook.

But the American radical Right seems to regard the book more as an operating manual for their political agenda.

And Orwell was a socialist. 

If you want to annoy a pontificating white Trumpist who tries to show he's "not racist" by quoting Martin Luther King's words, tell him what he doesn't want to know.

He was a democratic socialist.

“Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”

– Speech to the Negro American Labor Council, 1961

“Capitalism forgets that life is social. And the kingdom of brotherhood is found neither in the thesis of communism nor the antithesis of capitalism, but in a higher synthesis.”

–Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967


It would seem "democratic socialism" is too complex and scary as a concept for Americans.

Maybe it should be called "Liberalism", or "progressivism". Oh, but those terms have been demonized out of political discourse by the radical Right too.

I got it! "Universal Socially Applied Capitalism" or "USA Capitalism". How does that sound?