LTE-Democratic Socialism Promotes Equality & Freedom For All

Nov. 13 -- To the Editor:
The political Right has constructed an erroneous, fear-based narrative about socialism. Their narrative, however, reveals a lack of knowledge because a more accurate term is “socialisms,” plural. The differences between how the various socialisms are conceptualized and practiced are enormously significant; they illustrate the differences between more authoritarian governments and richly participatory democratic ones.
The belief all socialisms have in common is that social control of the means of production is essential in promoting economic and political freedom and equity. Without this, the few who own the means of production amass an extreme amount of wealth and thus, an unjustly dominating degree of power over the economic, social, cultural, and personal well-being of everyone else in society. This is unfettered capitalism: a system that always favors the very wealthy at the backbreaking cost to working families.
The argument from the radical Right goes something like the following. Because socialism is an economic system whereby the government owns the means of production, the government will have a near total control on the economic and political lives of its citizens. Such governments are as totalitarian as Nazi fascism.
The major problem with this argument is that socialism does not require government control over the means of production. While some socialist countries do, as is the case with China (although China is becoming increasingly capitalist), others most decidedly do not, as with Finland, Canada, Norway, and Ireland.
The socialism advocated by many today is akin to Canada’s and Europe’s: with cooperative ownerships of the means of production, popular political empowerment and engagement, and an economic system that closes the wage gap and protects public goods and services, such as education, health care, fire and safety, and environmental sustainability. Democratic socialism promotes economic, political, and cultural equity and freedom. There’s nothing scary about that.
Barbara Peterson

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