There has been quite some mayhem when it comes to Bernie Sanders referring to himself as a Democratic Socialist. The issue is caused by connection between socialism and communism. Yet, democratic socialism and the socialism you’re thinking of are definitely not the same thing. So, what is democratic socialism actually? And how does it differ from socialism?
Democratic Socialism is Not Communism
Karl Marx himself used the words communism and socialism to mean the same thing, but this has changed since that time. Nowadays, communism is what we think of when we’re talking about the USSR and its political structure, yet this is not how socialism started out. The regimes in the USSR and China are farther away from socialism than you might think, but that still doesn’t mean Democratic Socialism is closely related to Marx’s vision.
If socialism isn’t communism, what is it? Socialism can better be named Marxism, the original political system thought of by Karl Marx to replace capitalism. This system is made up of collective ownership, where everyone is absolutely equal. This would mean that the workers manage and control businesses, while they are all owned by the state, eliminating an elite group of business owners. Which differs greatly from Democratic Socialism.
What is Democratic Socialism?
So, if democratic socialism is not all these things, then what is it? Democratic Socialism aims to keep capitalism in place, although they hold some socialist values. They would for example put restrictions on corporations and their owners, like giving CEO’s a maximum salary they can earn. They also want some parts of society to be democratically planned instead of privately, like healthcare. They would also want to improve the social safety net. Democratic Socialism, as the term democratic suggest, also puts a big emphasis on fair elections. Changes in society or government should be made through fair elections. This is where it does look a little like regular socialism, as both of these ideologies find equality the most important part of society. Most scholars think of Democratic Socialism as an modernized version of the New Deal that was definited by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Although socialism is a concept that has been around for some time, it’s definitely not outdated, and Democratic Socialism can be really helpful when it comes to modern world problems. Healthcare, college tuition and the social safety net are all problems of today, and they’re all problems which social democracy aims to do something about.
Democratic Socialism has been gaining more attention since the late 19th century, when it became well-known. Nowadays we obviously have Bernie Sanders, a proclaimed Democratic Socialist. Now, Democratic Socialism may be a trend we’re seeing, it doesn’t have its own party. Democratic socialism is not a party on its own, as some people may think, it’s part of the democratic party. It just adds a slightly different view to the democratic party, although their views are rather similar, but Democratic Socialists are more progressive and do not support the party’s addiction to corporate contribution or contributions by the millionaire and billionaire class.
Anyway, there is no need to be fearful of what we call Democratic Socialism. It has very little to do with communism, the USSR or dictatorships often linked to those types of political ideologies. It’s in no way evil, it is really an ideology for the people. Democratic Socialism aims to help the people and sees all people as equal, although it is also pro-capitalism, as this is probably the best economic system for the people. You may want to look even deeper into the statements of Bernie Sanders and other Democratic Socialists, as they might sound appealing to you as well.
All in all, having a better understanding of the difference is between socialism and Democratic Socialism, is important if you want to understand politics, and if you want to be an informed voter in the coming elections.