By Julea Pehl
In the America of today, democratic socialists claim to be seeking freedom and morality in their ideology. Their creed states, "Democratic socialists believe that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs and not 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." 1 Not only do these democratic socialists claim that their philosophy is more democratic than a capitalist one, but they also claim that they differ from pure socialists because they are not for complete government control. "Democratic socialists have long rejected the belief that the whole economy should be centrally planned. While we believe that democratic planning can shape major social investments like mass transit, housing, and energy, market mechanisms are needed to determine the demand for many consumer goods."
In the socialist utopia, there will only be partial government control of the economy. Once there is partial government control, what would keep the government from taking full control? Even with just partial government control, democracy does not come to fruition. The consent of the people would not be allowed where there is government control. President Reagan once said, "They [the founding fathers] knew that governments don't control things. A government can't control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose." 2
Even if a socialist government could maintain partial control of the economy, their means to their end of true socialist freedom would be compulsion, duress, and "limited" servitude towards the government. Dinesh D'Souza explains the democratic socialist belief that socialism is the continuation of democracy. In his book, United States of Socialism, D'Souza states, "Thus, to those who object that socialism involves a restraint on economic freedom and individual freedom in general- meaning you no longer have the right to keep what you earn, or do what you want, or even say what you think-the socialist answer is that, in restricting your freedom, socialism advances a different type of freedom: the freedom of a people to govern themselves through democratic self-rule." Democratic socialists are trying to revolutionize the definition of American freedom. In The Conservative Mind, Russel Kirk points out that John Adams, one of the American founding fathers, manifested in his writings that the end of government is happiness for the governed people, virtue is the origin of happiness, and "enduring liberty is the child of virtue."
American freedom was meant to be the freedom to pursue virtue to achieve happiness. However, this American freedom, intended by the founding fathers, does not align with socialist freedom. Socialist freedom is the liberation of the working people from the enslavement of the "evil capitalists." D'Souza points out that entitlement is the core of democratic socialism, not freedom. Their argument against socialism involves questions such as, "Who gets what? Or to put it in moral terms, who's entitled to what?" These socialists despise capitalists because of the inequality of wealth between the entrepreneurs and the workers, the absence of workers getting their "fair share," and the belief that capitalists are self-oriented.
D’Souza asserts that Joseph Schumpeter's The Entrepreneur clarifies the four things an entrepreneur has to overcome and be successful in - “… the idea for the business, its organization, the marketing, the assumption of risk." A capitalist does deserve the fruits of his labor if he accomplishes the establishment of his new business because these steps require a certain mindset, imagination, confidence, prudence, business background, and a particular degree of magnanimity. D'Souza illustrates the capitalist as necessarily selfless in order to create a successful business that others would need or want. If a capitalist is not other-oriented, then he cannot be a prosperous entrepreneur. Schumpeter's picture of an actual entrepreneur exposes the socialist’s fantasy idea of the evil, selfish capitalist. Capitalism is truly democratic because it must take into account the will of the people. Therefore, capitalism allows for morality to be fulfilled because, as D'Souza pointed out, ". . . the founders clearly recognized popular consent - the consent of the people - as the moral basis of the free society."
Democratic socialists claim that their ideology is moral because they tag on democratic to their true title. However, democratic socialism is not truly democratic because it does not adequately allow for popular consent. D'Souza proves this conclusion with Nozick's thought experiment. Nozick's thought experiment involved a socialist world of economic equality, in which transactions occur that end in temporary inequality.
Nevertheless, D'Souza indicates, "Everyone started out with their fair share, and notwithstanding the inequality, everyone ended up with their fair share. Nozick argues that a free society that permits such exchanges will necessarily produce inequality. Any socialist attempt to equalize outcomes will require constant state intervention to undo the effects of voluntary action. In this way, socialism is inherently inimical to freedom." Then, popular consent cannot be fully represented in democratic socialism, and morality cannot prevail in this ideology.
Essentially, democratic socialism seems to exist to take down American capitalism. Yet, it fails in its ideology and mostly in its failure to put down capitalism as immoral, not to mention its non-existent experimentation. The socialist nature of entitlement would breed selfishness among people and would not bring out their goodness. The immorality and enslavement of democratic socialism are present threats to the American people and may become realities soon if Americans do not come to understand the evils of it and more importantly the truth regarding capitalism. The capitalist opportunity to invest in each other allows for true freedom, born from virtue. American capitalism is the best mode for freedom, happiness, and morality to bloom.
D’Souza, D. (2020). United States of Socialism. All Points Books. pp. 15, 181, 197, 185, 206
Kirk, R. (1953). The Conservative Mind. Gateway Editions. p. 99
Julea Pehl is a junior at the University of Dallas and is majoring in politics and classics. She aspires to help educate the young, American generation to appreciate and cultivate their wonderful country. Julea was born, raised, and is still living in Texas. She loves to read Jane Austen’s novels, translate Latin texts, and send hand-written letters to her friends and family.