Monday, July 31, 2017

Peace, Love, And Bernie: That Word “Socialism”…

There are a bajillion people out there online slinging around the “socialist” label (Especially the corporate media!) in regards to Bernie Sanders.

There is a problem with that, and it’s not the one you think; Socialism is one thing, and Democratic Socialism is entirely another.

Definitions:
(Source = Google search term “Define: Socialism“)
so·cial·ism
ˈsōSHəˌlizəm/
noun
noun: socialism
  1. 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.
    synonyms: leftism, welfarism; More
    radicalism, progressivism, social democracy;
    communism, Marxism, labor movement
    “my appreciation for certain aspects of socialism does not mean I’m a socialist”
    • policy or practice based on the political and economic theory of socialism.
      synonyms: leftism, welfarism; More
      radicalism, progressivism, social democracy;
      communism, Marxism, labor movement
      “my appreciation for certain aspects of socialism does not mean I’m a socialist”
    • (in Marxist theory) a transitional social state between the overthrow of capitalism and the realization of communism.
(Source = Google search term “Define: Democratic Socialism“)

Democratic socialism is a political ideology advocating a democratic political system alongside a socialist economic system, involving a combination of political democracy (usually multi-party democracy) with social ownership of the means of production.

The difference between the two is that Democratic Socialism seeks to preserve a Democratic government under the representative control of the country’s citizens, while pure socialism (As witnessed by the former Soviet Union and others) has no such component.

Even here, the terminology gets confused, because what Bernie Sanders actually proposes is a “Social Democracy,” which seeks to preserve both a Democratic, citizenry-controlled representative government, AND strongly-regulated Capitalism with private ownership of property instead of all-out public ownership of everything. 

(Wikipedia: “Social democracy is a political ideology that supports economic and social interventions to promote social justice within the framework of a capitalist economy, and a policy regime involving welfare state provisions, collective bargaining arrangements, regulation of the economy in the general interest, redistribution of income and wealth, and a commitment to representative democracy.”)


 Historically, the United States of America has been at its most widely-prosperous, with its largest middle economic class, under a system that could best be described as a weak form of social democracy.

So it MATTERS whether the “D” or the “S” come first when you define the overall legal, social and economic structure of the country’s system of governance. You WANT the “S” first, IE: Social Democracy. If you remember nothing else, just remember that Social Democracy is the best system we have SO FAR come up with to govern a country. 

The trickiest part is that Bernie Sanders is referring to what HE is (A Democratic Socialist) in advocating for a Social Democracy type of system. He is defining himself with those words, not the system he is putting in place.

Because the symantics in this area are so fuzzy, it’s necessary to distinguish between the description of the personal advocate and the description of the proposed system.

Put it this way:

What is Bernie Sanders? A Democratic Socialist!

What is Bernie Sanders proposing? A Social Democracy!

Are we having fun at Scrabble yet?

Peace out,

Dan

Dan Stafford

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