Democratic Socialism 101

In his 1991 essay, The Virtue of Civil Society, sociologist Edward Shils describes civil society as a community of free individuals who associate voluntarily for commonly shared values, purposes, and ends. 

This personal liberty implies the freedom of an individual to set his own goals in life, to have personal discretion and a recognized political right to pursue them in any way that he considers best. And, it is only within the arena of free market production and exchange that each individual has that liberty to find or create what he considers the best way to earn a living that puts him in a position to freely spend what he has earned as he desires.

In contrast, the ideological and policy agendas of socialism inescapably involve and require the compulsory and coerced imposition of one or a group of governmental plans, regulations, and redistributive purposes on all the members of the society.  

Socialism, the darling of the left is anything but new.  It’s hard to think of another idea that has been tried and failed as many times in as many ways or at a steeper price in human suffering.  Perhaps that is why today’s socialists insist that they have nothing to do with those “others” in the past who also called themselves “socialists – the ones who were not “real” socialist, or the “right kind” of socialist.

But, even as the new “democratic socialists” claim to reject Lenin’s methods, their ultimate goals are the same. Listen to what the 2020 Democratic candidates are proposing and ask yourself – if they are successful in bringing their plans to fruition, what would remain of the freedom and liberty we have in America? 

Government already monopolizes most of our education systems.  By calling for “free” schooling for all levels of education up to the doctoral degree, this means, in fact, that taxpayers would be paying for everyone’s education, including those that have never paid taxes.  Even worse, if there is a worse, as all that money passes through the sticky fingers of unaccountable bureaucrats, the hiring and firing of faculty, the curriculum, entrance requirements and graduation requirements would be in the hands of whosoever possess government budgetary power. 

It wouldn’t be any different in matters of health care. The federal and state governments already have an intrusive and heavy hand in the health care industry and how and what it provides. “Single payer” simply means that your health care, the quality and duration of your life, as well as that of your family, will be in the hands of unelected government bureaucrats who get paid whether or not you live or die. If you sometimes feel yourself nothing but an ignored or depersonalized number in todays health care system be prepared for becoming an even smaller decimal with four zeros after the dot under Single Payer.

Centrally planned social and “identity” political justice?  Forget about how or where you want to live, how and what you’d like to say, with whom you’d like to associate, or the way you would like to earn a living or spend the money you’ve received through free exchange.  Overcoming the injustices of the past whether real  or imagined will require democratic socialists to plan and redesign society. Every claimed unearned income, unjust social status, unfair employment, undeserved “privilege” will have to be reshaped according to the notions of the good society as seen inside the heads of those in charge of the political machinery of government.

Think of all the other corners and aspects of society whether it is the environment, culture, arts, sciences, or investment patterns, or job locations, or the quantities and varieties of goods produced and supplied – each will have to be politically decided upon and imposed to make it compatible with “climate planning,” racial and gender fairness, and social egalitarianism. Every corner of your life will be under the determination and control of the state.

But it’s “democratic” socialism!  It is the “will of the people.” Who can be against that, other than enemies of freedom, and oppressors who do not want the victimized to be liberated from their lives of injustice and unfairness?

Democracy is not liberty and even though it is considered inseparable from and confused in many people’s minds with freedom, it is not freedom. Democracy is a political institutional means to determine who holds political office and for how long through a voting procedure usually based on some form of majority determining procedure.  True democracy is in essence majority (mob) rule. America is and has always been a Republic with equal representation.

Democrats linked Democracy to Socialism to make it more palatable to the masses.  But no matter what you call it – it is still Socialism, where every person’s income, wealth, position, status, and opportunities for personal betterment will be forcefully straitjacketed within what those in government control deem to be politically correct and socially just.

Where is the freedom? What is liberating when the state becomes the political master and we are expected to be the obedient citizen-servants?

“When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men in a society, over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”   Frédéric Bastiat

Source:  All Socialisms Are Antisocial, by Richard M. Ebeling, the  BB&T Distinguished Professor of Ethics and Free Enterprise Leadership at The Citadel, American Institute for Economic Research.  You can read his article in full at the link provided.

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