Dan Popp
Democratic socialism is an oxymoron
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By Dan Popp
August 5, 2018

A society which is socialist cannot also be democratic, in the sense of guaranteeing individual freedom. – Milton Friedman

With all the folks recently declaring themselves "democratic socialists," I thought it would be worthwhile to examine why this is another assault on language by the barbarian left.

Some of us live in reality, and try to understand our experiences through the template of reason. More and more are trying to live in a fantasy world. Logic and honest language are enemies of that world. The fundamental building block of logic, as Aristotle laid it down, is that a thing can't be both itself and its opposite in the same way, at the same time.

The phrase "democratic socialism" violates this basic principle of rational thought. Here, courtesy of Dictionary.com, are the definitions of our root terms.
    Democracy: government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

    Socialism: a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole.
Here are some of the ways that democracy and socialism are inherently contradictory:

Locus of power

Socialism, as defined above, puts control "in the community as a whole." But in a democracy "the supreme power is vested in the people." This may seem like two ways of saying the same thing if you've spent your formative years under socialist indoctrination. In principle, however, they're opposites. The "community" of the socialists means everyone, collectively. But the ultimate rulers of the democracy are individuals, not the group. In practice, since rule by everyone is impossible (a fantasy), socialist countries invariably are ruled by a few central planners, who often oppose the group's wishes.

Ownership of property

A democracy is set up to protect the rights of individuals, particularly property rights. Socialism is set up for the express purpose of nullifying property rights. Its motto is "You didn't build that!" The state owns everything, and the state will determine what, if anything, you get.

Yes, a democracy can degenerate into a rights-violating mob (more about that later), but that is not its purpose, whereas the purpose of a socialist government is to relieve you of the fruits of your labor by means of violence.

Concept of citizenship

If democracy means "rule of the people," in practice it must be the rule of the citizens. In ancient Athens, it was the adult males of the polis; in early America, it was the landowners. The implementation of democracy, including the republican variety, requires a clear delineation between citizen and non-citizen. "Who may vote?" is a burning question. "Who may exercise this personal political power?" Certainly not foreigners or potential enemies of the society. Only those who have attained a certain age, perhaps who have a personal stake in the well-being of the community.

The fantasy of borderless political zones that make no distinction between citizens and trespassers may be compatible with socialism, but it is inimical to democracy.

Value of free speech

Democracy requires an uninhibited exchange of ideas. Socialism (because it is a failed fantasy) requires opposing ideas to be squelched. Exhibits 1 through infinity: suppression of conservative speech and speakers on college campuses, currently the temples of socialism.

Other rights protected in democracies are turned upside down where socialism dominates. To give just one more example, my God tells me, "You shall not steal." How safe are my religious rights in a political system based on theft?

"But what about countries with socialist 'safety nets,' run by the will of the people – like America? Can we not correctly call them both democratic and socialist?"

Let me put the question to you: What if I were to say, "Here is a healthy man with cancer?" "Wait a minute," you would say. "Is he healthy or does he have cancer?" You would not call him a healthy-sick fellow. Just as cancer is not compatible with health but drives out health, so the malignancy of state robbery drives wellness from the body politic. Yes, it's undeniable that the U.S. is afflicted by many socialist lesions, and as they continue to grow they must eventually kill the patient. That does not make America a hybrid democratic-socialist state. It makes us a former republic, a sick and wasting society.

One of the problems with schemes of popular rule is that they're susceptible to the contagion of covetousness. Hear wise old Ben Franklin: "When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic." The next stage after socialism isn't communist paradise, as Marx predicted. It is death, as our Founders predicted.

Here in the real world, there are no sunshiny nights, no Christian atheists, and no democratic socialists. Abusers of language are enemies of humanity.

© Dan Popp

 

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