The Rebranding of Socialism as ‘Democratic Socialism’
While it may be true that “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” (Shakespeare) it is also true that socialism by any other name still smells like socialism.
As we approach this year’s elections, the purveyors of socialism have tried to rebrand their product by calling it “democratic socialism.” The sales force and marketing department of democratic socialism, the Democratic Party, and the mainstream media, are plying a new fairy tale that democratic socialism is nothing like socialism. No siree, nothing like it, they sing in chorus. The chorus, however, is badly out of tune. Democratic socialism is not the wonderland of inclusiveness, social justice, equality, and happiness it is advertised to be. It will not end human exploitation and it will not save the planet. It is still socialism, just with a new name. Socialism has never worked for any nation and it will not work in this country, even with a new name.
Rather than just toss names around, let’s look at the policies proposed by the current advocates of democratic socialism and see what system they fit.
Because all of the current Democratic candidates for president have generally the same schemes in mind as the current leader of the pack, Bernie Sanders, let’s just call the programs the Sanders Plan.
Sen. Sanders proposes, for example, to completely wipe out the natural gas, coal and oil industries. In their place, he would create a government owned electric company to produce wind, solar and geothermal energy. Overlooking for the moment that the proposal is technically absurd, creating a government monopoly producer is the very definition of socialism.
Sen. Sanders proposes to spend $16.3 trillion on his “green new deal” which is supposed to address a concern that has yet to be proven using means that have no proof of positive effect. That money will come from massive redistribution of wealth, another definition of socialism.
Sen. Sanders proposes to provide free health care to all as well as free college. This is the government exerting massive control over the lives of its subjects, at a massive cost. Again, classic socialism.
The list goes on with proposals that will require everything from rebuilding homes and huge government-owned housing projects to dictating how farming will occur. The program includes “breaking up” big businesses, prosecuting banks, companies, and executives for “past crimes against the environment,” and dictating the car you can drive. This is socialism heading toward communism.
Many, if not most, of the programs find some basis in identity politics. Previous socialists promoted class warfare between the haves and have nots. Today’s identity politics speaks of race and gender as the basis of public policy. The bad guys in old time socialism were capitalists. The battle now is with white privileged males. However you slice it, it still features class warfare and is still socialism.
The new socialism, Democratic Socialism, is pledged to bring about race and gender equality, income equality and general goodness. Individual liberties, private property and the concept of a competitive market will not be surrendered willingly. To achieve this, the new socialism will have to be just as authoritarian as the old socialism. History shows us that when one group attempts to take goods and freedoms away from another to redistribute to other favored groups, conflict occurs. Who gets what? Who gets the best land, the best houses, the best jobs, the best medical treatment. Who will be favored to supply the solar panels and wind turbines? The list goes on.
When a free market no longer allocates production and consumption, or determines level of reward for effort, a central control must do this and chaos, inefficiency and a state of war are sure to follow. This is where democratic socialism will go because it is nothing more than socialism and we have a great deal of historical precedent to see how it works.
The current crop of apologists for democratic socialism love to point their listeners to the “Nordic model” of democratic socialism as they claim is practiced in countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland. They love to point to the economic success of Norway as proof positive that democratic socialism works. Unfortunately for the purveyors, Norway’s economic success derives mostly from abundant natural resources and its success and well-being predates its venture toward socialism. Norway does control its oil industry but most other businesses have limited government involvement. In fact, today most Nordic nations are moving away from socialism. Norway and Denmark deny they are socialist and describe themselves as “free market” economies. Many state-owned businesses have been privatized. In 2012, Sweden topped privatization initiatives globally, according to a study by the Heritage Foundation. Many of the welfare systems are being cut back. Why is this happening? Because the shortcomings of democratic socialism are becoming more apparent.
What are the shortcomings of the Nordic democratic socialist system? Exactly what history always finds. First and foremost, taxes are astronomical, running as high as 60 percent. People want freedom to control their own lives, work where they want to work and buy what they wish. Because there is little or no economic incentive, innovation becomes rare and few new ideas and products appear. With the need for government regulation and control, bureaucracies grow and this is non-productive labor. There is no reward to produce more when people have their individual needs met so they often give up and leave the workforce increasing costs even more. The people of Norway and other countries are choosing to leave this behind and return to market capitalism or, maybe as they term it, compassionate capitalism.
Where then is the real danger? Not in our current form of government but clearly in abandoning it and adapting socialism by whatever name the Democrats choose to call it.
Ask yourself, how would you benefit from giving up what you have to adapt the servitude of socialism? Why would you want to adapt what others who have tried it are abandoning?
As is attributed to Winston Churchill, “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.