In what passes for intelligent political discussion in America, socialism has no redeeming characteristics. It’s consistently slandered as a direct, unqualified, implacable threat to all we hold dear.
If that’s so, how does one explain that christian democrats and social democrats have functioned in coalition for years governing the German Federal Republic? ¹
Granted that no human system is or ever will be perfect, one has to admit that overall, Germany is a well-ordered, prosperous state, with national and local government maintaining mostly straightforward relationships with the electorate, including regular elections.
All socialists believe that capitalism is inherently unjust and unsustainable over the long haul, and should be replaced.
There are, however, differences in method.
Social democrat is a term for socialists who seek to reform capitalism bit by bit. As proved by years of modern German political history, social democrats affect change through German democratic processes, which include, don’t forget, risking their access to political power in legally mandated regular elections.
Democratic socialists,² on the other hand, point out flaws in capitalism in an effort to gin up support for an all-out change in the economic system, placing the means of production under public control, again using democratic methods.
These socialists are not communists. They don’t foment revolution.
When they lose at the ballot box, they do what other politicians do—conduct a postmortem and try again.
While we’re at it, lets briefly consider something critics of socialism seem to have forgotten—or perhaps like to ignore?—the direct influence of socialism on the American Democratic party during the Progressive Era, and on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.
Legislative results of that influence include the eight-hour work day, unemployment insurance, and Social Security.
How bad is that?
God help us if socialists ever get political power ?
¹ Political parties active in The German Federal Republic include: Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU); their Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU); their coalition socialist party partners, the Social Democrats (SPD); the opposition Greens; and the liberal Free Democrats (FDP).
² A word or two about Bernie Sanders: He calls himself a democratic socialist. His policies much more closely resemble those of social democrats. I think he selected the title “democratic socialist” because it sounds better.
Additionally, it’s been said that, as a matter of election tactics, he should drop the “S” word because it freaks out politically naive voters, and instead, present himself as advocating “catch-up” with other nations whose people already enjoy the benefit of programs he consistently advocates.