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The Other Big Surprise of 2016 Is the Return of Democratic Socialism


#1

The Other Big Surprise of 2016 Is the Return of Democratic Socialism

Lawrence Wittner

Democratic socialism used to be a vibrant force in American life. During the first two decades of the twentieth century, the Socialist Party of America, headed by the charismatic union leader, Eugene V.


#2

Return of democratic socialism? No, not really.


#3

Yeah, quote a biased article from Hillary supporter NYT. Go away troll.


#4

The NYT had to come up with a better explanation than Gloria Steinem accusing women of enlisting in the Sanders campaign because "thats where the boys are".

The oligarchs will never run out of lame stories to promote Clinton.


#7

The real surprise is that the values millions are supporting and Bernie Sanders champions, are American values that were branded as "extreme" to divide people and maintain the ruling class 1% oligarchs.
The serfs are beginning to wake and will not be silenced - the powers better realize that this understanding by millions of what issues and policies make a nation truly strong - education, universal non-profit health-care, civilian priorities not military, a sustainable future and environment, and an end to the yoke/usury of vulture capitalism, are non-negotiable!
Our issues have been demeaned, ignored, undermined, sabotaged, sold to the highest bidder, and given short (very) shrift for so long affecting so many that the awakening will not be stifled this time!


#8

Even today's liberals don't support democratic socialism. Democratic socialism does include a legitimate welfare system. When was the last time you heard a US liberal call for basic food and shelter for our very poor?

The US did embrace a measure of democratic socialism, from FDR to Reagan/Clinton, implementing policies and programs that actually took the country to its height of wealth and productivity -- certainly not a utopia, but much better. We changed our minds, and began reversing course in the 1980s. Clinton ended actual welfare, began similarly "reforming" Social Security (targeting the disabled), and media have collectively ignored the consequences.


#9

Realistically, those proverbial "masses" are profoundly divided, pitted against each other today. It's not a matter of "the 1% vs. the 99%." We're rich vs. middle class vs. poor.

We know that not everyone can work (health, etc.) and that there aren't jobs for all. The US shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s. The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 jobless people who still have the means to pursue one (home address, phone, bus fare). We don't know how many people have zero incomes, with no way back up. When was the last time you heard an American call for restoring basic poverty relief?


#10

We are kicking hard on the door. Is it made of wood or is that just a veneer, covering steel? The only way to find out is to keep kicking. And, a broken toe isn't life threatening, either. If your goal is to take out the king; you must, harness all your power, and do just that. By severally damaging both parties, exposing their duplicity, the path opens for the possibility of acheiving the policies of democratic socialism. We must keep kicking hard. Open this door as if your future and life depends on it. Because, guess what, it does.E


#11

Don't forget Daniel De Leon and the Socialist Labor Party. Nor the Wobblies in the Industrial Workers of the World.


#12

If you look at data on wealth concentration, during the Gilded Age, the 1% controlled 50% of the wealth in the country. We got the progressive income tax in 1913 and the Great Depression reduced wealth disparity. From WWII to 1980, the 1% controlled only 25% of the wealth. Reagan was elected in 1980 and we got supply-side economics: cut taxes on the wealthy to stimulate the economy. The result was that the 1% now controls 50% of the wealth in the country again. Supply-side economics resulted in a massive transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1%. As Warren Buffett said: "It is class warfare and my class is winning."

Liberals (i.e., traditional Democrats like FDR and LBJ) gave us social welfare programs like Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid and Obama gave us the ACA. Republicans opposed all of these programs.

Ironically, it was Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican, who ran as a 3rd party Progressive in 1912, who was concerned about the concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1%. Old Teddy proposed steeply graduated income and inheritance taxes to redistribute the wealth. Teddy did not win in 1912 (although he did whip the ass of the Republican candidate, Taft). Wilson, the Democrat, won and we did get a progressive income tax but not a progressive inheritance tax, so wealth is still being concentrated in wealthy families because the children inherit the wealth of their parents.

The reason that a Social Democratic party did not arise in the US as they did in Europe is because of our very conservative Supreme Court. The court held that corporations are persons. If a corporation is a person, then it has the same constitutional rights persons have; e.g., the right to private property. Whenever there were strikes in this country, the police always sided with the owners and against the strikers because the strike violates the right to property (the right to make money). A strong labor movement never developed in the US as it did in Europe where Social Democratic parties evolved from the labor movement.


#13

Uh, do you not understand that we don't have a Social Democratic Party in this country because most people who call themselves Republicans and Democrats don't agree with Social Democratic policies.

It is nonsense to think that political parties prevent a Social Democratic party from coming into existence. Bernie Sanders is a Social Democrat, but he has to run as a Democrat because there is no Social Democratic Party. You can't produce Social Democrats by destroying traditional Democrats (no Republicans are Social Democrats). All you can do is to form a Social Democratic Party and try to convince people to vote for your candidates.

You may think the two major parties are duplicitous, but this is an error in logic called a category mistake (ascribing a property to something that it cannot possibly have). The notions that money is speech and corporations are people are also category mistakes.

Political parties are composed of people and people most certainly can be duplicitous. But since political parties are not monolithic, not every person in a party will be duplicitous. So, saying the Democratic and Republican parties are evil makes as much sense as saying democracy is evil because the crews dropping the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki lived in a democracy.

The only way to overthrow the king is to do what happened in France in 1789. The mob rose up and chopped the heads off of the king and the aristocrats and took land away from the wealthy aristocrats and the wealthy Church and divided it up among themselves. The French Revolution was a Marxist revolution before Marx was born.

The problem with revolutions is that people die in them. How many people are you willing to sacrifice to make the US a more just social welfare state?


#14

Sanders is not a socialist in the sense that Debs was. He's closer to FDR.

Sanders has also not come to national office, though he has run quite a campaign and shown some people some things. I like Wittner's optimism here, and I think that those polls are worth noting, but he is jumping the gun and overstating his case. There never was a whole lot of socialism in the US to come back, though there was more in the 30s than there is now. But more importantly, Sanders is the leading figure of the moment, but we have yet to see how that shall convert into long-term action. .Hasta la victoria siempre, compas, but that's going to mean some follow-through. .The Sanders movement appears to have some people who could do just that. I suppose we have to wait until the convention to see a Plan B, since fools will vote for Clinton if they imagine that Sanders will lose.


#15

Sounds like you don't get what has been going down for 14 months. Destroying both parties by " wedge politics" has been the goal. 60% negative ratings says , we're on pace, to do just that. Since coalitions in America are the realpolitik in governing the Congress; getting them to kill each other, saves us the bother.:wink: Picking up the lawn furniture after a wind storm isn't the same work as building all new furniture, either. Why destroy the picnic table when you can eat quite nicely from it? You sound like a party builder. I'm more interested in a large and extensive remodel. Good luck to you.Send me a copy of the blueprints if you're done making alterations.:slight_smile:


#16

All political parties have had good leaders and bad. Would the party matter if instead of depending on good or bad leaders, the people made all important decisions, rules, laws by encrypted electronic consensus?


#17

Fingers crossed!!!


#18

While I agree it's "people" who comprise a party, and it seems illogical to say a "party" is evil (a word which confuses the issue), may I point out that almost every powerful, prominent Republican has now promised to support Trump, despite having publicly condemned his behavior until a few weeks ago? And that there's little doubt that enough Democrats will ignore their mistrust of Madame Clinton and nominate her? Yesterday most of them rallied around Wasserman-Schultz, pretending they don't know (or admitting they don't care) that she supports TTP and predatory loan sharks, was severely criticized for scheduling too few debates, and is plainly hoping to ride Clinton's coattails into the White House. Since most people don't know or don't bother to find out who the candidates are, other than the top 3 or 4 on the ballot, they vote for "their party". Hence the lesser of two evils dilemma. Hence the Greens, hence Senator Sanders, who has been brave enough to remain an independent for decades.
Whose heads should we chop off?


#19

"This promising beginning, however, abruptly came to an end.
Socialist Party criticism of World War I led to a ferocious government
crackdown on the party, including raids on its offices, censorship of
its newspapers, and imprisonment of its leaders, including Debs..."

Excerpts of Eugene Debs' final statement to the court before being sentenced to prison on 09/18/18:

(Warning! this is longer than a tweet! So try real hard to concentrate and pay attention--it will be worth the effort) :

"Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

I listened to all that was said in this court in support and justification of this prosecution, but my mind remains unchanged. I look upon the Espionage Law as a despotic enactment in flagrant conflict with democratic principles and with the spirit of free institutions.

Your Honor, I have stated in this court that I am opposed to the social system in which we live; that I believe in a fundamental change but if possible by peaceable and orderly means...

Standing here this morning, I recall my boyhood.

At fourteen I went to work in a railroad shop; at sixteen I was firing a
freight engine on a railroad. I remember all the hardships and
privations of that earlier day, and from that time until now my heart
has been with the working class. I could have been in Congress long ago.
I have preferred to go to prison.

I am thinking this morning of the men in the mills and the factories; of the men in the mines and on the railroads. I am thinking of the women who for a paltry wage are compelled to work out their barren lives; of the little children who in this system are robbed of their childhood and in their tender years are seized in the remorseless grasp of Mammon and forced into the industrial dungeons,
there to feed the monster machines while they themselves are being
starved and stunted, body and soul. I see them dwarfed and diseased and
their little lives broken and blasted because in this high noon of Christian civilization money is still so much more important than the flesh and blood of childhood. In very truth gold is god today and rules with pitiless sway in the affairs of men.

In this country the most favored beneath the bending skies we have vast areas of the richest and most fertile soil, material resources in inexhaustible abundance, the most marvelous productive machinery on earth, and millions of eager workers ready to apply their labor to that machinery to produce in abundance for every man, woman, and child and if there are still vast numbers of our people who are the victims of poverty and whose lives are an unceasing struggle all the way from youth to old age, until at last death comes to their
rescue and lulls these hapless victims to dreamless sleep, it is not the fault of the Almighty: it cannot be charged to nature, but it is due entirely to the outgrown social system in which we live that ought to be abolished not only in the interest of the toiling masses but in the higher interest of all humanity
I can see the dawn of the better day for humanity. The people are awakening. In due time they will and must come to their own...

I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence...

This order of things cannot always endure. I have registered my protest against it. I recognize the feebleness of my effort, but, fortunately, I am not alone. There are multiplied thousands of others who, like myself, have come to realize that before we may truly enjoy the blessings of civilized life, we must reorganize society upon a mutual and cooperative basis; and to this end we have organized a great economic and political movement that spreads over the face of all the earth...

In that day we shall have the universal commonwealth the harmonious cooperation of every nation with every other nation on earth...

Your Honor, I ask no mercy and I plead for no immunity. I realize that finally the right must prevail. I never so clearly comprehended as now the great struggle between the powers of greed and exploitation on the one hand and upon the other the rising hosts of industrial freedom and social justice...

When the mariner, sailing over tropic seas, looks for relief from his weary watch, he turns his eyes toward the southern cross, burning luridly above the tempest-vexed ocean. As the midnight approaches, the southern cross begins to bend, the whirling worlds change their places, and with starry finger-points the Almighty marks the passage of time upon the dial of the universe, and though no bell may beat the glad tidings, the lookout knows that the midnight is
passing and that relief and rest are close at hand. Let the people everywhere take heart of hope, for the cross is bending, the midnight is passing, and joy cometh with the morning.

I am now prepared to receive your sentence."

No one "feelin' the Bern" can approach the scornful eloquence of Debs, because today's leftists have been compromised and bought out by the mammon that Debs so despised.


#20

All of Sanders' proposals can easily be paid for by his proposed tax on Wall Street transactions and eliminating much of the waste and fraud in military spending. Young people get their news from a variety of sources on the internet and know the truth about Democratic Socialism, unlike many older people who rely on the corporate news media of newspapers, television, and radio.


#21

I wish everyone, including Bernie Sanders, would stop conflating democracy with capitalism. We all know that present day Democratic Socialism is a system that includes capitalism. So, it is NOT Democratic Socialism; it is Capitalistic Socialism or Capital Socialism. It is a system that taxes the rich and its capital, to fund the youth-of-today's education, health and housing, and to pay for health, transportation, communication and energy infrastructure for all---the social needs of the commons. The process of democracy can bring about caitalism, or socialism, but it is—neither.
By the way, this writer is much in favor of Capital Funded Socialism or Capital Socialism.


#22

I sure do favor his policies and I am a retired educated senior. And the young are educated and independent and favor his policies