Thursday, February 28, 2019

Democratic Socialism?

I’m not saying that Democratic Socialism is a bad thing, but let’s be more clear on what it is or, more specifically, isn’t. Like most people who want this nation to indulge in a socialist economy, Business Insider author John Haltiwanger doesn’t even know what socialism is.

"Socialism," he says in his Feb 25th article, "can be defined as a system of social organization in which private property and the distribution of income are subject to social control."

Private property is subject to government control? No, not even close. Why would I own a private business and allow the government to control it? And socialism does not involve the “distribution of income” at all; that is part of communism, not socialism.

Socialism is not a “system of social organization” at all. Again, the author is confusing socialism with communism. Socialism is a form of economic management, one in which the means of production and distribution are owned and operated by the government. Private property still exists, homes and automobiles for instance, but not as mechanisms in the economy.

"In other words," he goes on, "it's a state-controlled economy in which the state controls the means of production (factories, offices, resources, and firms)."

Oh, good. Having defined it incorrectly, the author uses “other words” to define it differently and a little more nearly correctly. At least he's defining it as an "an economy" rather than as a "system of social organization." He fails to point out that the government not only controls the means of production, it also owns the means of production. There are no “firms” for it to control, so that part is inaccurate. He also fails to point out that the government owns and controls the means of distribution as well.

"There are," he tells us, "also forms of socialism in which the means of production are controlled and owned by workers."

No. Such an economy is actually known as “collectivism,” and is a very different creature than socialism. In collectivism each facility is managed by the people who work in that facility, because they own it, while in socialism all facilities are commonly owned by government, are managed by a central bureaucracy, and the workers have no direct management input at all.

Collectivism is far from unknown in our economy today; companies in which employees have banded together to buy out the companies they work for. Such companies almost always continue to function on a for-profit basis, with the profits being distributed to the employees who own the companies. Such a company is certainly not an example of socialism, because it is a collective functioning within the capitalist economic model.

The author, having so badly failed in his attempt to define socialism, then goes to great length, never using two words when twenty will do the job, to explain that a “Democratic Socialist” doesn’t want to impose government dictatorship. That’s sort of like a landscaper going to great lengths to assure you that he just wants to mow your lawn and neither wants nor intends to burn down to your house and garage while doing so.

Democracy is a form of government, while socialism is a form of economic management. They certainly can coexist and frequently do, notably in Europe, but socialism is socialism whether it exists in a nation with a democratic government or in a nation which has a monarchy or dictatorship. Being a “Democratic Socialist” simply means that she is a Democrat who wants to convert our nation to socialism economically while maintaining a democratic form of government.

So Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez is a “Democratic Socialist.” If Ron Paul was a socialist he would be a “Libertarian Socialist.” If Ted Cruz was a socialist he would be a “Republican Socialist.” Karl Marx was just a “Socialist” because he had no axe to grind with respect to governance. He only cared about the economy.

1 comment:

bruce said...

At least Ms. Cortez got something right. Not sure about her literacy on economics, socialism or not.

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