For reasons known only to themselves, some Progressives seem intent on relabeling Democratic Capitalism as Democratic Socialism. Democrats are looking for a Big Idea – Why not good old fashioned Democratic Capitalism?
Recently I did a post on Socialism, noting that Socialism was a theoretical and real world failure and no more connected to reality than Unicorns. The online conversation it started was, frankly, bizarre.
From the start of Socialism, there has been one defining feature–the state owns the means of production. The government owns the factories and stores and mines, everything that is used to meet the needs and wants of the people. This is what the battles were about in the 1800s. This is why Russia and China had revolutions, so the state could take over the economy. It’s what made a country Socialist. Everything good that Socialism promised was because the state controlled the means of production.
I was stunned – stunned – at the number of defenders of Socialism that said that state ownership was just a flavor, and not even that important. That the word “Socialism” actually meant many things. For example, graduated income tax and unions were offered as examples of socialism. Again, it was just a bizarre conversation, like they had arbitrarily assigned their own meaning to words.
Graduated income tax and labor unions aren’t Socialist ideas – they aren’t needed under Socialism. If the state owns everything, there are no capitalists that have to pay higher tax rates. Socialist workers don’t need unions to negotiate with owners, because the workers are the owners, through the state. Graduated income taxes and unions are adjustments to Capitalism, ways of ensuring that private property benefited everyone. They are examples of Democratic Capitalism, of people that believed in capitalism using the power of the vote to make Capitalism work better, not overthrow it.
The strangest part of this conversation was that it happened on a website dedicated to getting Progressives elected – to winning elections. Now, if you say Socialism, even Social Democracy, you make an awful lot of voters in the middle uncomfortable. Because like it or not the great majority of the middle-aged or older voters associate the word Socialism with the 30 million people that were killed in Russia, or the millions killed in China or Cambodia – like it or not we still use the definition we learned in school, that socialism is state ownership of the means of production.
I just had to wonder – have Progressives really convinced themselves that they improve their chances of getting elected by relabeling Democratic Capitalism as Democratic Socialism? Do they really think this will win them elections? I keep hearing that Democrats are looking for a Big Idea. I can promise you the Big Idea isn’t Socialism. Democrats, why not just go back to Democratic Capitalism? It’s even got your name in the title. It’s what made our country great. And it makes a lot more sense than some kind of strange fascination with the word Socialism.