What is Democratic Socialism?
Socialism in its essence is a state of society in which all people work cooperatively as equals for the common good of all. In recent times people who hold this principle have been describing this principle as democratic socialism, to distinguish the principle from authoritarian and undemocratic states which have wrongly described themselves as socialist in character.
Origins of Democratic Socialism
The word socialism , as it first appeared, was used in publications devoted to cooperatives in Great Britain. Socialism was used to describe a society in which people work together to increase the benefit of all.
Another underlying assumption was that people are, by natural rights, equals. Socialists have always been recognized for upholding the principle of the equality of peoples as a highest value.
Socialism describes a society in which people work together to increase the benefit of all.
Because Socialists value the principle of equality, persons truly socialist in spirit value democracy as a vital political principle. In a democracy, each person has the right to be heard and to be given due consideration. The government is chosen by a vote of the people. This is the basis for the label democratic socialist.
This label is used to distinguish democratic socialists from people who improperly call themselves socialist and do not support the values of both equality and democracy.
Principles of Democratic Socialism
Democratic socialism implies certain other values in human conduct:
Widespread and full public education is essential to guarantee the equality of people. People must have information and be allowed to communicate their ideas.
Public Enterprise in some economic activities is necessary to help people attain economic and social equality. The government should undertake to do for them what people cannot do well for themselves.
Public enterprise leads to the common definition of socialism found in dictionaries: "the public or collective ownership of the means of production and distribution and the democratic management thereof."
Democratic socialists support the principles of democratic collective ownership of the basic means of production and the priniciple of democratic management. Therefore, democratic socialists support not only public ownership, but cooperative ownership of economic functions.
Because Socialists value the principle of equality, persons truly socialist in spirit value democracy as a vital political principle.
Democratic socialists support the idea of democratic public control of those activities which are described as "the commanding heights" of the economy, but do not support the idea of state ownership of every human enterprise.
Certain societies have sometimes disguised themselves by using the term socialism.. "National socialism" advocates a one-party dictatorial society. "Communism" has frequently been used by political parties advocating and implementing a one-party society with very limited democratic practices. However, a truly communal society would be very democratic, as were some early societies in the Americas.
Differences between Socialism and Capitalism
Capitalism describes a state of society which accepts and encourages private ownership of the means of production. Capitalism exalts the selfish individual. In capitalism regulation of self-interest is discouraged as a hindrance to the operation of a "free market."
The United States is considered by many political and economic leaders to be a capitalist society with a free market. However, the U. S. political and economic system is in reality a system of private markets protected by the government against competition.
Further, to keep the faltering American capitalism functioning, the various governments step in to provide public funds and support for functions performed by a private enterprise. The United States underwrites the risks for banks and other financial institutions. Local and state governments provide assistance for real estate developers through construction and maintenance of roads and public infrastructure. Local governments provide tax incentives for local developers.
In contrast democratic socialists favor government programs to help provide all citizens with their basic needs. Socialists have implemented improved parklands, unemployment compensation, social security, more equitable taxation, public radio and television, and improved educational opportunities.
Democratic socialists have always favored PEACE and opposed war as a means of settling differences between nations and groups, thus, look to duly constituted courts to settle differences.
Democratic Socialists knowing the world societies are interdependent, hope to establish a world of "cooperative commonwealths"-- a world of nations which will cooperate with each other for the common good.
Thus, democratic socialism is the radical idea that people should live and work cooperatively in a democratic society.
A socialist society will provide for each individual's basic needs for food, clothing, shelter, transportantion, and health.
The spirit of cooperation acknowledges that we must live in a peaceful, environmentally sustainable world.
-Acredited to "The Socialist Party of Wisconsin"
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