mage Credits: Alex Garland
I’ve noticed that more and more, people are under the impression that socialism and democratic socialism are two fundamentally different things. In reality, they share the same components.
Socialists believe that free-market capitalism is a failed system and that all important decisions dealing with the direction of investment should be made by the State. The “democracy” part of the democratic socialism definition implies that democratic institutions, such as a constitution and elections, should be preserved and upheld.
It seems as if many young voters have more recently begun to identify as democratic socialists in an attempt to separate themselves from true socialists, who may have previously supported dictatorial regimes such as the former USSR, or even today’s North Korea. By labeling themselves as democratic socialists, they are likely attempting to showcase that political liberty is just as important an issue to them as something like economic justice.
Essentially, socialism is the redistribution of wealth in an attempt to create a more “equal” economy through anything from a progressive income tax to a social welfare program like social security. The issue with democratic socialism is that it is built on the notion that if one person benefits, another must be losing out. When the scope of governmental authority expands into more areas of our daily lives – such as decisions about health care, education, work, and housing – reaching agreement among a majority of citizens on every issue becomes nearly impossible.
In a system that utilizes free-market capitalism, both people can benefit. Capitalism is characterized by a lack of government intervention. Socializing something such as healthcare would completely destroy private industries worth billions of dollars, which currently exist as a result of our capitalist society. In a democratic socialist society, every healthcare company in the United States would have to be completely revamped in order to accommodate for a single taxpayer system. In a capitalist society, prices are determined by market forces, while in a socialist society prices are typically set by the government. When prices are mandated by the government, it can lead to both shortages and/or surpluses of goods and services for the given country’s citizens.
Take Venezuela, for example. Venezuela was a relatively well off, oil-fueled democracy where voters opted for the democratic socialist administration of Hugo Chavez in 1999. Since the implementation of said socialist policies, there are now toilet paper shortages, unrestrained inflation, social unrest and other evident signs of economic disaster.
Now, imagine a similar democratic socialist administration implementing their policies in the United States. The government has created a sort of “safety net” for American citizens by implementing programs such as social security and welfare. The higher the government raises this “safety net,” the more comfortable people become, resting and relying on it, therefore not providing on their own. Soon thereafter, there become very few pulling the weight of everybody and what used to be “free.”
Under socialist rule, the government is unable to control market forces on a grand scale without it inevitably leading to disaster. In a capitalist society, no matter where you start in life, you have the opportunity to make it big.