You have likely heard the term ‘Democratic Socialism’ plenty of times in the past few years. I’ve had friends argue with me about its definition and whether the US should follow the examples of Denmark and other countries and begin our decline into that political ideology. I, therefore, wanted to start this article by explaining what Democratic Socialism really means. Democratic Socialism seeks a political democracy but with an economy based on socialism and not on capitalism. Under this system, the government should provide the basic needs of the people (healthcare, education, housing, food, etc.) and provide equal access to success (equal opportunity).
Unlike Marxism-Leninism, this should be brought about through democratic processes and not imposed on the citizenry in an authoritarian manner.
The Democratic Socialists of America believe that socialism and democracy go hand in hand, “wherever the idea of democracy has taken root, the vision of socialism has taken root as well–everywhere but in the United States.”
I Sadly, that may be more true that we want to believe. The United States might not be quite at the level of democratic socialism as many European countries according to the World Population Review for 2020. However, a comparison of United States policies with those of avowedly Democratic Socialist countries, shows that the US is moving ever closer to that political ideology, in areas such as taxes, regulations, redistribution of wealth. It would seem that we no longer have a limited government as our Constitution aimed for this country to have.
The US is already ‘democratic’
Though technically the US is a Republic, designed as a union between the States, with a limited Federal Government, in many ways it functions as a democracy and is colloquially called that. However, over time, politicians have learned how to grant themselves more power and how to increase the scope of the federal government. Whether a Republic or a Democracy, policy is determined directly or indirectly by the stated will of the people.
The US is already ‘socialist’
The word ‘socialism’ is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as:
“any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods;
a system of society or group living in which there is no private property;
a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state;
a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done”
The US already fits every one of these descriptions, at least to some extent. It can be strongly argued that all property is ultimately owned and controlled by the government (collectively by the public). We outlined some of the arguments for this in a previous article.
On the issue of taxation specifically, the US is a socialist nation, as well. Americans often pay 40-50% of their incomes to the government by threat of force. Not only do those who make more money pay more taxes, but they are forced to pay a higher percentage of their income to their masters. This middle class author has around 50% of his annual income stolen by government officials by threat of force. There are currently around 100 different taxes levied by the socialist politicians who run the US.
Another classic element of socialism is government redistribution of wealth. As the governments of Cuba and Sweden do – and as socialists in the US wish for – the US government does redistribute massive amounts of wealth collected by taxation to those deemed to be ‘needy’ by politicians. Of course, politicians use this tool to buy votes from specific cohorts. How much welfare is redistributed from workers to parasites by US politicians?
Politicians have created over eighty different welfare programs. In all, they redistribute nearly a trillion dollars annually. That would be the same as giving every individual in the US around $3,000 cash annually. Of course, lots of this money is lost to overhead (paying the government workers who administer the programs) as well as waste, fraud, and abuse involved in the programs.
In regards to the economy, a purely capitalist/free market economy would be one in which all businesses are owned by private individuals and all transactions are consensual and voluntary. A totally socialist economy would be one in which all businesses are owned by the government and all transactions are based on government approval, not individual consent.
Now, considering that there are millions (if not billions) of economic regulations placed on businesses by all levels of government in the US, would you say that businesses and their transactions are controlled more by the government or more by private individuals? Is the US economy closer to having zero regulations by the government or is it closer to being totally controlled by the government? Keep in mind that government regulations cost the US economy 2 trillion dollars per year. This is a simple answer, and it cannot be denied.
Central to the ideology of socialism and communism is ‘collective/government control of all property and/or the absence of private property owned by individual citizens. In the US, property is owned and controlled by government officials much moreso than it is owned and controlled by individuals who believe that they own the property. We wrote a whole article explaining that the government officials in the US have stripped citizens of roughly 100% of our property rights over the past few decades. If you want to understand this concept, simply try to do anything on property that you ‘own’ without government permission and see what happens. You can’t buy, sell, or modify your house without government approval, can you? You can’t set up a business without government approval, can you? Can you buy any form of property and carry it around with you on your property without obtaining permission from your Lords? I doubt it. Around 90% of Americans live in places which forbid the ownership/carrying of a firearm (which is property) without government permits. Further, the government can confiscate any property they desire any time they wish to. They actually have multiple avenues for this confiscation.
Regardless of your definition of socialism, you cannot deny that the US is a socialist nation already. Socialism is on a spectrum; it is clearly not binary. The US government and state and local governments fulfill all criteria involved in all definitions of ‘socialism’, from government ownership of property to government control of commerce. And for good measure, politicians steal half of our income and redistribute it to others in order to buy votes. If US politicians hope to be taken seriously when they proclaim that “The US will never be a socialist nation!”, they must begin to take drastic steps to eliminate all taxation, welfare, business regulation, and violations of property rights. Until that begins to happen, I’ll continue to berate any fool who claims that the US is not socialist.