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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/7/16

Will Americans vote for a Socialist? What is Democratic socialism?

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Author 95661
Message dale ruff

The dailynews is asking this question, while supplying a distorted definition of socialism.

"...he (Sanders) doesn't believe in Karl Marx's core socialist tenet, that governments own the means of production. "

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This is the opposite of what Marx said. He observed that capitalists owned the means of production and promoted a revolution in which the ownership would be assumed by the workers, owing and controlling the means of production. This was the goal of Communism which would, according to Marx, then see the state, which had been the instrument of the ruling capitalist class, wither away.

I doubt if Sanders said this was the core principle of Marx, and it certainly was not. Even under Stalinism (which was actually state capitalism, where the state controlled all the capital), the pretense was that the workers owned the means of production, but that was as credible as the claim that the US is run democratically.


Social democracy actually is a system in which within a capitalist economy, the state grants robust rights to workers. Old school socialism, which was the ultimate goal of Marxist ideology, replaced private ownership with collective ownership not by the state (which the older socialist tradition rejected) but by associations of workers, who operated then in "free markets" as "free enterprise" independent of both private capitalists/owners and the state.


The contemporary version of genuine socialism (worker coops, ESOPs, and non-profits, etc) is called left libertarianism, or libertarian socialism, which like the old tradition from which Marx worked, rejects both state and private forms of coercion. The "dictatorship of the Proletariat" with a "vanguard party": was to be a temporary transition to the stateless decentralized communist society. As early as the mid-19th Century, the anarchist-libertarians opposed this concept.


I believe that Sanders understands this having been an avid student of the many varieties of socialism, from the state capitalism of Stalin to the anarchist socialism of Spain and even today, Kurdish regions. In between is the hybrid of social democracy, workers power and rights within a regulated capitalism, and the market socialism of China with "free markets" but with the state owning nearly half the major corporations and having control over the economy (a hybrid of state capitalism, one-party-rule, and market capitalism).


Socialism in its purist terms is the expansion of democracy into the economy and workplace; It is always a matter of degree, depending on the ratio of workers' power to the power of owners, whether state or private. Old school socialists, such as the socialist libertarians, reject both state and private tyranny and seek a decentralized society of worker collectives, with the state limited to protecting rights and keeping the market open and competitive, while supplying equal opportunity (through education, healthcare, etc) for all citizens.


Sanders thus stands somewhere in the middle, a moderate social democrat who promotes the power of labor while accepting a regulated capitalist structure. It is worth noting that the most hated party by Hitler and the Nazis were the social democrats, among the first sent to the first concentration camp for political enemies at Dachau in the early 30's. The Communist elite and the fascist elite both hated the social democrats, who stood between the extremes.


So it appears that people, who have the most trust in Sanders of all candidates and who like him more than any others, are ignoring the red-baiting and lies about socialism in this election. And so, despite a more than a century of demonizing "socialism" as the road to serfdom, Americans are looking past the propaganda and taking a fresh look at our first viable socialist for President. As Jeff Greenfield say in his recent article What's Wrong with Hillary, "every once in a while, voters discover they have the power to do something they have never done before; and that discovery itself becomes a significant political force"


Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/03/hillary-clinton-2016-whats-wrong-with-hillary-213722#ixzz4544IsldT
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This appears to be a unique moment in our history when the charade of voting is being eclipsed by a meaningful election and the old cliches are falling away, like scales from our eyes.

 

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retired, working radical egalitarian/libertarian socialist old school independent, vegan, survivor

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