As a student of history, I have studied and continue to study different governments and economic systems throughout the world. It’s crucial that we distinguish between the two. Democracy is a form of government and Socialism is an economic system. The two are different and yet related. So before discussing the concept of Democratic Socialism as espoused by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, it’s important to understand and define both.
Democracy defined is “a government by the people: a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.” We don’t actually live in a Democracy, we live in a Republic, where we elect representatives to represent us in Washington, D.C. So more accurately, we live in a Democratic Republic. Congress, the legislative branch of our three branches of our Government, consists of the Senate and the House of Representatives. Every state is represented by two Senators and the number of representatives in the House is determined by population.
Socialism is defined as, “a theory of social organization that advocates the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, capital, land etc., by the community as a whole, usually through a centralized government.” It’s important that people understand that in this economic system, which is synonymous with Communism in my opinion, there is no private ownership. Proponents of Socialism would say it differs from Communism because Socialism allows for democratic or republic governance, whereas Communism does not. But I wholeheartedly disagree. They are the same. Both systems attempt to eliminate class differences and create an “equal society.” But people aren’t “equal”. Some are smarter, some are prettier, some are more creative. An accident of birth and upbringing. Life isn’t fair. People should be treated equally but their abilities are clearly not equal. That, is the single biggest reason, that Socialism and Communism have always failed.
To be clear, there is no such thing as Democratic Socialism or Democratic Communism. Socialism is not progressive but just the opposite. It does not and can not exist. Socialist countries like North Korea are lead by dictators under the guise of “Worker’s Party” of Korea. North Korea clearly demonstrates that when you force people to be “equal” or what I call, “misery loves company,” you kill the human spirit to thrive. In addition, when one person or group determines the direction of the country, it will obviously lead to corruption. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. In South Korea on the other hand, one of the most successful and innovative countries in the world, Communism is illegal. Socialism/Communism steals peoples motivation and and innovation but most importantly free will and is the opposite of the American Dream. Venezuela is the shining example of the failure of Socialism. North Korea, China, the former Soviet Union and Cuba are other examples. China, only became the economic powerhouse that it is, by freeing it’s markets and allowing private ownership of the means of production. The government finally came to the realization that Communism is a failure. Yet it remains an autocracy. People from all over the world fight there way out of these countries and to these shores to escape that tyranny, in pursuit of the American Dream.
This is very different than ensuring a strong social safety net for people who need help. Most of us recognize that there are people that require assistance whether food, medical or housing assistance but that is very different from Socialism. Often you read about Scandinavian countries for example but all of the Scandinavian countries are Capitalist societies with excellent, social safety nets provided to it’s citizens. But Capitalist nonetheless.
So the next time that AOC or Bernie Sanders speak, challenge them on what exactly they mean by Democratic Socialism. Don’t just think that you understand what they mean. Most people simply believe that Socialism is a way of helping people in need. But nothing could be further from the truth. A country can not practice both Democracy and Socialism. They are oxy-morons; polar opposites. Don’t be fooled. What they want is un-American and will ultimately destroy what has made this country the beacon of hope for millions of people from all around the world, for the past two hundred and fifty years.