What Is Democratic Socialism?

what is democratic socialism

Have you ever wondered what democratic socialism actually means? Well, if you listen to the talking heads in the mainstream media or a typical university professor, democratic socialism is commonly described as a utopian ideal world that currently exists in its ultimate form in places such as Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. But here’s the problem, this is completely untrue.

To get a much more accurate description of democratic socialism, inquisitive minds should start by looking at the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) website. (DSA is the largest socialist organization in America.)

According to the DSA:

Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs, not to make profits for a few. To achieve a more just society, many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy so that ordinary Americans can participate in the many decisions that affect our lives.

Democracy and socialism go hand in hand. All over the world, wherever the idea of democracy has taken root, the vision of socialism has taken root as well—everywhere but in the United States. Because of this, many false ideas about socialism have developed in the US.

The key phrase here is: “many structures of our government and economy must be radically transformed through greater economic and social democracy.” This seemingly innocuous sentence contains the core tenet of democratic socialism: radical transformation.

Unlike ordinary liberals, DSA’s goal is to totally tear down the economic and social institutions that have made the United States the most prosperous and powerful nation in the history of the world. While liberals, for the most part, are content with a tinker here and there, the DSA rejects incrementalism in favor of a complete (and radical) transformation.

Although there are several reasons to oppose democratic socialism, one could argue that the primary reason is that it is antithetical to everything this great nation was founded and built upon: freedom, federalism, private property rights, and self-reliance are integral to the American experiment. However, these bedrock principles are outright rejected by the DSA in favor of totalitarianism, an expansive federal government, income redistribution, government dependence, and the placement of the collective above the individual.

Whereas the United States has historically valued the individual over the collective, under the DSA model, this view is completely inverted.

Democratic socialism, like communism (and run-of-the-mill socialism) presents an imminent danger to the preservation of the American experiment. Even worse, it is antithetical to American Exceptionalism.

Under the DSA worldview, socialism is the inevitable outcome for democratic societies. Although democratic socialists would like for you to believe in this fairy tale, keep in mind that leaders of socialist regimes throughout history have made similar promises that they failed to deliver.

Actually, the history of socialism (across the entire spectrum) has been an a total disaster. Maybe this is why clever people have played a game of linguistic bait-and-switch. By adding the word “democratic” to socialism, these crafty veterans of the political arena think they can hoodwink average American voters.

Unfortunately for many socialists, most Americans are smarter than this. They know a good lie when they see it. The real question is, however, will future generations who have grown up in socialist indoctrination camps (public schools) also know it when they see it?

PHOTO: U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders speaking with attendees at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum hosted by Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action at the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Gage Skidmore. Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Chris Talgo (CTalgo@heartland.org) is an editor and research fellow at The Heartland Institute and a researcher and editor at StoppingSocialism.com.