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Has Democratic Socialism a Future in American Politics?

Has Democratic Socialism a Future in American Politics?

Lawrence Wittner

Recently, when 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, an obscure, upfront democratic socialist from the Bronx, easily defeated one of the most powerful U.S. Congressmen in the Democratic primary, the story became an overnight sensation. How, the pundits wondered, could this upset have occurred?

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Let’s reverse that title just a little. Does American Have a Future Without Democratic Socialism? Probably not.


Trump could be the best thing that happened to the Democrats.

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Democratic Socialism–then do this: Eliminate the present entire Supreme Court. Eliminate the present Congress and begin to elect a Parliament (2 year term only). Eliminate the Electoral College. Initiate run-off voting–no limit to number of parties. Nationalize the Banks. Nationalize all commodities, i.e., water, electricity, gas, and begin an intensive overhaul of the infrastructure–roads, bridges, schools, etc. Begin an equally intensive move toward alternative power sources. End farm subsidies. Assist ALL local and family owned farms in producing food for their respective locales. Protect water like it’s gold (cause it is!) Do away with Wall Street!!! Round up all current multi-billionaires and offer them a deal: Either voluntarily share (either by building and re-building infrastructure or contributing their funds to solving climate and environmental issues), or have all their money confiscated by the people.

We CAN do this!

Of course, if we are on the road already to a mass extinction, then money will mean nothing and won’t be helpful anyway.


Larry -

Good to read another of your essays.

I studied political philosophy for years, but this is almost new to me - making a distinction between democratic socialism and social democracy. Not a bad idea all in all - the concepts do need some clarifying.

Skip Oliver

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I don’t believe democratic socialism is taking hold in the US. I would say it did in Venezuela. The banks in the US are still privately owned, no industries have been nationalized. Bernie Sanders sounds much more like a New Deal Democrat then a democratic socialist. He says he does not agree with the views of Eugene Debbs. So is Bernie really a democratic socialist? I am not even sure Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed anything that would quality as democratic socialism. I do see a shift toward New Deal thinking, particularly among younger people. With the country being torn apart by hate it certainly is difficult to predict which way things are heading. The takeover of fascism seems to be a likely possibility. That would enable the right to ethnically cleanse the country without having to deal with laws and the Constitution. It looks like the US is coming apart. Some pretty adept politicians are needed to keep it together.

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While we’re dreaming, could be please add to the list dismantling the US military.


YES!!! We don’t need the Pentagon and a standing army with bases all over the world! We need a “guard” or “militia” who are called upon only if our own shores are threatened.


Depends how they try to sell it. If they sell it as welfare and free stuff a la Bernie Sanders people might fall for it and figure out it’s true form when it might be too late. If they start telling the truth about the nationalizing of stuff (means of production owned by the community) then it’s not ever gonna catch on.

I recommend watching the video above. These are important distinctions which I’ve pointed out before.I’m a real democratic, civil libertarian, socialist. I do support socialist democrats. I use the term neo-new-deal democrats along the lines of FDR. At least it’s a step in the correction. Banks should be broken up regardless. a very progressive tax structure needs to replace the travesty we now have. A start anyway. Too little too late to avoid the coming collapse.


Democratic socialists and left wing social democrats (which support policies that you and those you support oppose) that operated in developed countries were the ones that created national healthcare programs, and an overall far more comprehensive welfare state than what we have in the US. They too had to operate in political systems dominated by big money, and they almost always were not in a position to put in place their full platform. But they were instrumental in dragging their political systems to the left, and we can see the difference between the other developed countries and the US in that regard. They had to confront and beat everything you defend here every day. Nancy Pelosi and Cuomo will not bring the type of structural changes that we need. And let’s be clear too; the socialists of the past in the US operated in a country that was at least growing and was at the time overtaking others to become the world’s economic superpower, or were already so. That is radically different than America in 2018, where we have decades of stagnating wages, decades of exploding inequality, decades of growth in private debt, the costs of basic things like healthcare, education and housing far outpacing wage growth, and literally no one else in the system is really pushing for any actual solutions. If you look at polls on issues, the public is already with the left, they are already to your left, and to the left of the types of bores you support. The word socialism is not seen as nearly negative with the young as it is with the old, because the older people in this country have had their minds so warped by bullshit propaganda that they can’t have non-emotional discussions on socialism. It is a fact that public utilities, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, public fire departments, public police departments, public education, community owned and manged broadband networks, NASA, the VA (especially when properly funded), are all examples of successful socialism in practice. Many of our technologies, from computers, the internet, nanotechnology, biotech breakthroughs, civilian aircraft, satellites technology, GPS systems, touch screen technology, among many other things, have come out of the public sector here.

We are in the same position though that other countries were in about a century ago. We need an actual left to implement things people like you, and those to your right, will not do. Will democratic socialists ever to get to implement their full platform? Who knows, but they are the only ones willing and potentially able to drag us to the left and to implement long-overdue changes. The far right libertarians have NEVER had a system based on their ideas, yet they are part of our political discourse, they have a very strong voice in the Republican Party and in the media (money does wonderful things in this society), and most wouldn’t want their actual ideal to ever come about. Now, democratic socialists are part of policy discussions, and we simply have better ideas.

And to point to Venezuela is obvious too. You could point to other developed countries, the platforms of people like Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez is similar to what a number of other developed countries have now, but you don’t do that and point to Venezuela because you are a propagandist. Besides, the “centrists” and the right increasingly were in charge of Venezuela in the few decades before Chavez took over. Per capita GDP declined from 1980 to 1998 by 26%. The country had multiple economic crisis due to the collapse in oil prices going back to the mid 20th century, one reason that Venezuela was one of the founding members of OPEC. Inflation was much higher in the pre-Chavez years than it was until a few years ago. As late as 2012, inflation was high (about 15%, maybe a little higher), but not near what is now, and it was well over 100% in the years leading into Chavez taking over. The economy was overly reliant on oil exports then too, corruption was a huge problem, oil production declined from 1970 to 1985 by 70%, there were riots because of IMF policies in the late 1980’s, a few coup attempts a couple years later (one of which Chavez took part in), and violence in the country and in Caracas is a decades long problem. The government, for sure, has caused some of its current problems (especially in regards to the dual exchange rate policies), but many of these problems far pre-date Chavez, not that you are really interested in carefully analyzing Venezuela. Your goal is to attach the people like Ocasio-Cortez to Venezuela though, which goes to show, in the end, there isn’t a huge difference between you and the right in this country.


Thank you, you give us hope and sure hope you are right.


People have been unmercifully brainwashed from birth th o become capitalist workers. Socialism is a bad word in school. Communism is wore than saying fuck in school. Dictatorial authoritarian communism failed as the state took control of banking and production. To work people have to own and control banks, means of production and control of the military. As good as this would be it won’t happen in time to avoid collapse.


We have heard much about income inequality. This link shows WELATH inequality. It worth noting that many of those “Social Democracies” might have less in the way of INCOME inequlity while at the same time having high financial or wealth inequality. The difference between the USA and a Netherlands is that while both have higher wealth inequality (the US i still higher then the Netherlands) , the Netherlands has policies to address this via income with more Social program spending. That Social program spending can adress income inquality to a degree but has limited impact on wealth inequality.

Among the developed nations the USA does the least on either income or wealth to address that inequality.

Ultimately while Social Program spending can help work on that Income in what are considered by many to be “Socialist” countries , wealth discrepancies are not touched.

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Socialism is a idea in general. Just look at all failed experiments. Unfortunately there’s always one that thinks he’s gonna get it right.

Who is “the people”? Who is gonna be responsible for “the means of production”? Trust me, if stuff don’t belong to someone to care for it, it’s gonna get stolen, damaged or otherwise neglected.

How deep! If only political economists the world over had your uncanny insights into the virtues of capitalism and the inherent failures of alternative systems of production. Perhaps you can chair the next plenary session of the Socialist Scholars forum in NYC?


Just to say that there are genuine socialist parties in North America that have pedigrees pre-1917 that are still in existence.


We are 7 years into a mass extinction, not on the road to one.

Who is “the people”? Who is gonna be responsible for “the means of production”? Trust me, if stuff don’t belong to someone to care for it, it’s gonna get stolen, damaged or otherwise neglected.

Say what? Were I to list the amount of stuff OWNED by someone that was in fact stolen in the first place, damaged or neglected , the list would be legion.


Appalachian mountains of Kentucky.

Original part of the Commons of the various tribes that lived there, a pristine wilderness of Fresh water forests and mountains abounding with life.

STOLEN by people from Europe who claimed it now “Private property” Distributed by the same and clear cut for logs, the rivers and streams polluted, the mountains dug up to get coal. Toxins in the watershed have made the rivers and streams unfit to drink. Chemicals of all manner abound poisining the wildlife and causing Cancers and Illness. Toxic pools of cloa slurry abount and entire mountains have been removed, valleys and streams filled in.

I suggest had it been “neglected” as it was neglected all those years before the Capitalists form Europe arrived, it would not be damaged and it was a heck of a lo better “cared for”.


Actually I believe i could. I grew up on Socialist Propaganda and been to quite few plenary sessions. It’s not as cool as you think… you gotta know how to use the proper lingo.