The US should reject Socialism, but embrace Social Democracy

Fake news, fake opinions and fake political analyses are everywhere. The following little video by conservative commentator Steven Crowder is a perfect example of mixing truth (Socialism is bad) with fiction (Europe is socialist & US capitalism is good) to promote a false image of both the USA and Europe and thereby presenting false choices.[8] The case in question is about the proper use of the concept ‘democratic socialism’, a term promoted by Bernie Sanders.

Americans using the concept ‘democratic socialism’ will have to do a better job in thinking through what they really mean. Socialism is about the collective ownership of a nation’s means of production and that in order to have a more egalitarian society. But if you compare that idea with what Sanders promotes under the flag of ‘democratic socialism’ there is an obvious contradiction because he actually proposes a more moderate, third way, mixed economy system with a very regulated free market, which is definitely not socialism. The better term for that is ‘social democracy’, which is how most western European countries would classify themselves. Calling Sanders, as he also calls himself, a ‘democratic socialist’ and calling European countries ‘socialist’ is therefore an error, and a grave one at that.

At the same time we have to acknowledge that European socialists and workers unions contributed mightily to the political struggle for economic and social justice in the last 150 years.

Meanwhile, and here it gets interesting, according to a Forbes rating of ‘Best Countries for Business’, these so-called socialist countries are pretty well regarded as far as doing business there. The Netherlands is at #3, Sweden at #4, Denmark at #7 and the United States is of course #1 . . . NOT. It’s at #12! Still beating Germany at #13 though. So, if you have a problem with the business environment of these social-democratic countries, go argue with Forbes.[1]

How about taxes? In proportion to GDP the Danes pay about 50% and the Dutch about 40%, while in the USA the number is about 25%. [2] Of course this allows the Danes, according to the CIA, to have only a 40% net public debt per GDP, while the number for the USA is 74%.[3]

Of course US conservatives like to burn and slash government services, except for the military, to decrease the deficit, and also decrease taxes, believing erroneously in the ‘trickle-down’ effect. [4]

But what is Denmark getting back for paying an average of 50% taxes? First of all less income inequality, which means less hunger, poverty, misery, homelessness, sickness, etc. [5]. They also enjoy a better government, rule of law, property rights and social justice.[6] And, last but not least as an overall effect, they are a happier people.[7] Finally, as noted above, the Danish tax regime apparently does not undermine its competitive, capitalist business climate.

So, before anybody tries to scare you about so-called European style socialism to justify a US style conservatism, ask if they are aware of the statistics below:

[1]. “Best Countries for Business“. The 2017 List. Forbes.

[2]. Wikipedia. “List of Countries by Tax revenue to GDP Ratio“.

[3]. Wikipedia. “List of Countries by Public Debt“.

[4]. Fisher, Gabriel. “Trickle down economics is wrong, says IMF“. Quartz (16 June 2015)

[5]. Wikipedia. “List of Countries by Income Equality“.

[6]. World Justice Project. “Rule of Law Index 2017-2018“.

[7]. Wikipedia. “World Happiness Report“.

[8].  Crowder, Steven. “The U.S. rejects socialism for good reason“. Prager [not a] University (7 Feb 2018)

One Response to “The US should reject Socialism, but embrace Social Democracy”

  1. Nick Egnatz

    Thanks Govert for a great concise article. I did watch Stephen Crowder’s harangue on socialism. He’s quite a trip.

    Several years back my local newspaper used to allow 250 word letters to the editor and they allowed comments to the letters in the online version of the paper. Over a span of 5 or so years I wrote several dozen letters, in addition to a handful of guest columns of about 500 words. They all elicited multiple online responses, the vast majority attacking my presented opinions and me personally. This did put me a quite a disadvantage, since I was writing the letters under my own name which was prominently displayed in the phone book and they were all anonymous.

    The newspaper, Northwest Indiana Times, first stopped the online comments because they rightly realized that many were not conforming to normal social behavior and the whole thing was getting out of hand. They then cut the letter length to 150 words. This negated my being able to properly make an argument about policy. It is pretty hard to do much more than vent an opinion in 150 words. Making an argument in 150 words for peace over war or monetary reform over debt slavery is beyond my power anyway.

    Back to the point, in the online attacks I would often get the challenge to name a successful socialist country. I would mention the Scandinavian countries, with the caveat that they weren’t really socialist. But it wasn’t until after the paper stopped online comments that I fully understood that the U.S. has made sure that there are no successful socialist countries. Our country has economically and or militarily attacked every country with socialist leanings. Of course the Scandinavian countries are not socialist or even leaning that way, they have just found a way to alleviate some of the inequities and flaws in capitalism. U.S. empire is merely the globalization of the U.S. capitalist economic system and the the debt-based banking system of money.

    I like the term social democracy, except that we and they are not democracies. We are a republic and I think the Scandinavian countries are too, although probably much more democratic than us. The politicians have all latched onto the word democracy in describing the U.S., we shouldn’t let them get away with it because it implies something that we are not. We should say let’s make it an actual democracy and a social democracy at that!

    As a postscript, I did recently write a letter of exactly 150 words saying that the newspaper’s policy of limiting the length of the letters to 150 words was a more effective attack on our democracy than Russia’s $100,000 of facebook ads. They didn’t run it.


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