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Mar 18 2016

Democratic Socialism Doesn’t Exist

The phrase “Democratic Socialism” is a term trying to describe something that doesn’t exist and is never likely to exist.

Democracy is the idea of ruling a group by following the will of the majority of the group. Socialism is the idea of centralized planning of the economy of a group. Democratic Socialism is supposed to be a political and economic philosophy that incorporates Socialist economic planning with Democratic representation.

The idea of Democracy is to promote individual liberty through increasing self-expression and self-determination. Pure Democracy, taken by itself, fails because it suppresses the will of the minority and allows a majority to seize power and achieve a state of tyranny, even if that is done slowly. Democratic representation can be a good thing, but only when it is carefully controlled by the kinds of checks and balances we have in our form of a Republic, or rule by constitutional law.

The idea of Socialism is to promote equality through ethical economic planning that creates a level playing field for everyone. Pure Socialism, taken by itself, fails because the central planning squashes motivation and innovation and promotes the concentration of power, allowing a state of tyranny to form. Some Socialist-like programs may be acceptable, but only when counter balanced by a free market with little or no interference by government.

Both Democracy and Socialism require off-setting controls and balances to keep them from becoming unstable and dangerous to individual liberty. We can have some level of democratic representation but we must have government limited by rule of law (a republic). We can have social programs that help the needy, but we cannot have centrally controlled markets and free unrestricted markets at the same time.

Democracy without a republic is veneer with no core. Socialism without a controlled economy is not Socialism. The concept of Democratic Socialism is a semantic construct designed to attract followers who like the words without understanding the substance. When the map doesn’t match the territory, followers using the map are headed for trouble. When the map describes a territory that does not exist, users of the map are lost at the start.

Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word, equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude.
– Alexis de Tocqueville