published an article arguing that “the spectacular rehabilitation of socialism as a legitimate position within American politics, particularly among young people, is one of the most significant developments for the socialist movement in decades.” I maintain that those young people aren’t being told the whole story.
Socialists don’t just want to replace private ownership with state ownership.
But what is essential is that the people have real, not just formal, democratic control over society’s wealth. What if a majority of workers decided that only English-language commercial reading material should be printed in the United States? The birth-control pill has “massive public implications.” And remember, “Only when the private decisions that have massive public implications are subjected to popular control will we have a democratic society.”Is Trump ending free birth control?
Maybe the authors are less dedicated to democratic control as a first-order good than they appear to be when drawing on the good connotations of democracy. What share of construction materials would a majority of workers apportion to new mosques? Right now, under capitalism, vegetarians and vegans have more options every year. Would planning bodies decide for or against allocating materials for sex toys? So, young leftists: Would you prefer a socialist society in which birth control is available if, and only if, a majority of workers exercising their democratic control assents?
These changes would be welcome, but socialism moves well beyond them.” It is “a time to be bold,” they wrote.
They don’t seek to reform market capitalism, but to eliminate it: In capitalism, economic power appears separated from political power.“Making people’s lives materially better isn’t enough.Neither is it enough to install union representation for workers.What ought to scare them is not social-welfare spending on the less fortunate.The original “Even in Nordic countries, where high levels of state ownership are combined with political democracy and a high standard of living, socialism is a long ways off,” the authors wrote.The economic power derived from owning productive assets allows capitalists to get rich while keeping workers’ wages as low as possible, decide what is produced without any democratic input from the rest of society, hide harmful aspects of their products, and foist the harmful costs of doing business (“negative externalities”) onto the rest of us.Capitalists say all of this is justified because it’s “their property.” The core aim of socialism is not just the state gaining control of industry, but empowering the broad masses of people—in their workplaces, in their communities, in their homes, in their schools, in their politics—to be in the driver’s seat of society …In the same way we don’t believe that capitalists should be able to have disproportionate control over economic resources, we don’t think unaccountable state officials and bureaucrats should have the power to control investment and production through ‘socialism from above.’ In some cases, like the former Soviet Union, the failings of such a system are nearly as deep as those of capitalism itself.” flawed than market capitalism.Upon reflection, the authors changed their article to better reflect their actual belief: that “in some cases, like the former Soviet Union, the failings of such a system are as clear as those of capitalism.” The authors’ intention was to point out the failure of authoritarian collectivism to meet the democratic standard of socialism, not to imply a preference for the Soviet Union.Freedom of the press ceases to be hypocrisy, because the printing-plants and stocks of paper are taken away from the bourgeoisie.The same thing applies to the best buildings, the palaces, the mansions and manorhouses.