Saturday, July 07, 2018

Democratic Socialism Is Democratic Doom

A political novice who calls herself a “democratic socialist” wins an unexpected Democratic Party primary victory, and now political taxonomists are racing to explain just what the term means. Here’s my definition: political hemlock for the Democratic Party.

I write, of course, of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s the onetime Bernie Sanders organizer whose victory last month over long-term New York congressman and party boss Joe Crowley is being compared to Tea Partyer Dave Brat’s 2014 primary defeat of the Republican House majority leader, Eric Cantor — a sign of what’s to come, both for the Democratic Party and the country at large.

Well, maybe. It wasn’t long ago — March — that Marine reservist and former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb was feted as the Democratic future for winning a House seat in a Pennsylvania district that Donald Trump had carried by 20 points. The shared secret of Lamb’s and Ocasio-Cortez’s success is that they ran energetic campaigns, reflected the values of the people they sought to represent, and faced lackluster or entitled opponents.

Not every political contest is a battle of ideas. Sometimes it’s just a matter of showing up.

Still, it should be said: “Democratic socialism” is awful as a slogan and catastrophic as a policy. And “social democracy” — a term that better fits the belief of more ordinary liberals who want, say, Medicare for all — is a politically dying force. Democrats who aren’t yet sick of all their losing should feel free to embrace them both.

Start with democratic socialism. The Democratic Socialists of America, of which Ocasio-Cortez is a member, believe in economies defined by state-owned enterprises and worker-owned cooperatives. Versions of this have been tried to varying degrees before: Israel in its first decades; post-independence India; Sweden in the 1960s and ’70s.

It always led to crisis: hyperinflation for Israel in 1980s; an I.M.F. bailout for India in 1991; a banking meltdown for Sweden in 1992. It’s usually a recipe for corruption: State-owned enterprises such as Pemex in Mexico or Eskom in South Africa are local bywords for graft and mismanagement. It frequently leads to dictatorship. Hugo Chávez was also a democratic socialist.

Read the rest here.


Greg Pavlik said...

Incredibly ill informed statements (esp given the crisis of capitalism that is playing out globally) and about as prophetic as predicting Trump had no chance of winning on the Republican side: if there is anything that might be a winning formula for Democrats it is economic populism.

Deacon Nicholas said...

Economic populism might be politically successful in the short term, but socialist policies don't bring about economic prosperity in the longer term.

The Anti-Gnostic said...

"Socialism" is a very bad word even among, and perhaps especially among, the US proletariat. Latin American-style social democracy does not appeal to them.

I applaud the Democratic strategy here--they are in for a long 8 years. Maybe 16, if Don Jr. throws his hat in the ring. After that there won't be anymore elections over the US as presently constituted and we can stop wasting all this time and energy.

unreconstructed rebel said...

I cannot imagine the "governing class" of this country making a successful go at a functioning economy.

Greg Pavlik said...

Father Deacon, thats just bullshit.