Democratic Socialism must be avoided
What is Democratic Socialism?
Bernie Sanders’ surprisingly resonant campaign introduced a new phrase into our political lexicon: Democratic Socialism. The phrase seeks to rhetorically touch up “socialism,” an ideology rightly associated with death, despair, and disaster. Democratic socialism, however, is a catastrophe wrapped in a seemingly innocent movement. Tt should be avoided and shunned at all costs.
Democratic socialism strives to combine the forces of democracy with social ownership of enterprise — in other words, it hopes to establish a socialist system. Preceding “socialism” with “democratic” doesn’t modify socialism. Socialism’s goal is itself democratic in theory: Centralized ownership benefits the masses rather than those with capital (capitalists). The phrase “democratic socialism” solely seeks to distinguish this vision from the Soviet Union’s Marxist-Leninism, not modify socialist goals.
Similarly, “social ownership of enterprise” amounts to no less than the nationalization of industry and the centralization of production. Only by the government owning the means of production could enterprise ever achieve social — ie, democratic; ie, lay — ownership.
So democratic socialism offer socialism, but by a better name.
And socialism, of course, does not work, for it quickly descends into despotism while destroying economies.
Descent to Tyranny
History proves that statement: All socialist experiments led to autocratic, repressive states that deprived their citizens of natural rights. Democracy itself tends towards self-destruction through demagogues who subvert constitutions and strive for self-serving authoritarianism. Democratic socialism would remove the republican safeguards that prevent demagogic takeover while increasing the riches of office — subvert the constitution, establish unilateral government control, and enjoy the spoils of all nationalized industries.
In other words, the leader, or leading party, has every reason to bend the economy to their desires. Tyranny of the minority ensues, with the beneficiaries of the centralized system fighting the majority of the population, necessarily involving coercive forces and a seizure of rights (and wholly destroying the democratic socialist vision).
Destruction of the Economy
Even in the idealized world in which the government remains true to democratic virtue and does not succumb to natural human desires to enrich oneself, socialism — and so democratic socialism — falls short of all stated goals. It destroys the economy by ignoring human nature.
All socialist societies dream of eventual classlessness (which, combined with the abolition of private property, amounts to communism) with the centralized means of production that supposedly serves the (democratic) masses. It ignores market forces in place of government-decided prices and output (it is impossible for the government to determine optimal quality and price; in attempting to do so, it will be surely be swayed by some minority — a further imposition of minority tyranny as a select few decide the availability of goods for general purchase).
Without incentives and with central planning, the economy quickly stagnates. Human nature requires incentives to spur productivity and innovation. Without the ability to reap rewards for hard work — with the government guaranteeing an outcome — worker productivity and the standard the living decline precipitously. Output then declines, which either forces prices to rise (as they would in a market) or the government subsidizes consumers and producers to maintain a certain price level, straining government coffers and causing debt to spiral, or a government-enforced price (without supplying subsidies) quickly leads to scarcity when production halts as its cost quickly outstep income. Either way, the economy tumbles and the standard of living plummets.
Democratic socialism is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. The phrase itself does not modify its fundamental belief in a socialized economy. Socialism always seeks to be democratic, but because of human nature — because of demagogues and the ease with which a corrupted socialist state can be used to enrich oneself — always descends to tyranny.
The economy similarly suffers. Central planning ignores incentives, and thus human nature. Historically and theoretically, socialism leads to dramatic declines in the standard of living. Only pain and suffering increases.
And so democratic socialism must be avoided. Democratic socialists must be spurned. Those seeking to overhaul the economic system into one that has never once worked must never gain power.