Democratic socialism

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What really scares the pro-plutocrats on both sides of the political aisle about...Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, [Bernie] Sanders and other democratic socialists is that they have... an actual vision — the simple idea that it’s up to government to intervene and equalize the playing field between the capital that owns the politicians, the system and the rewards, and the general public toiling to provide those rewards. ~ Krystal Ball

Democratic socialism is a political philosophy supporting political democracy within a socially owned economy, with a particular emphasis on economic democracy, workplace democracy, and workers' self-management within a market socialist economy or some form of a decentralized planned socialist economy. Democratic socialists argue that capitalism is inherently incompatible with the values of freedom, equality, and solidarity—and that these ideals can only be achieved through the realization of a socialist society. Although most democratic socialists seek a gradual transition to socialism, democratic socialism can support either revolutionary or reformist politics as means to establish socialism. As a term, democratic socialism was popularized by social democrats and other socialists who were opposed to the authoritarian socialist development in the Soviet Union and elsewhere during the 20th century.

Arranged alphabetically by author or source:
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · See also · External links

Quotes[edit]

B[edit]

  • Trump’s dig on socialism means he’s scared, Ocasio-Cortez said... What really scares the pro-plutocrats on both sides of the political aisle about her, [Bernie] Sanders and other democratic socialists is that they have become messengers for a compelling message with an actual vision — the simple idea that it’s up to government to intervene and equalize the playing field between the capital that owns the politicians, the system and the rewards, and the general public toiling to provide those rewards.
  • Democratic Socialism is not a middle way between capitalism and Communism. If it were merely that, it would be doomed to failure from the start. It cannot live by borrowed vitality. Its driving power must derive from its own principles and the energy released by them. It is based on the conviction that free men can use free institutions to solve the social and economic problems of the day, if they are given the chance to do so. [You cannot] inject the principles of ethical Socialism into an economy based upon private greed.
    • Aneurin Bevan, Speech, Blackpool, 29 November 1959. Quoted in Stuart Thomson, The Dictionary of Labour Quotations, Biteback Publishing, 2013.


C[edit]

  • It is really impressive what a filthy system capitalism is, that can't guarantee its own people employment, nor health, nor adequate education; that cannot prevent youth from being corrupted by drugs, gamble, and all kind of vices.
  • Capitalism can not be transcended through capitalism itself; it must be done through socialism, true socialism, with equality and justice. I’m also convinced that it is possible to do it under democracy, but not in the type of democracy being imposed by Washington.
  • The law itself is the instrument of the ruling class; hence it is a logical impossibility for another class to assume power legally.
    • Oliver Cox, Caste, Class, and Race: A Study in Social Dynamics (1948), p. 164
Capitalism without socialism is like a great shark in the waters that will eat up everything in sight, and has no group sense or social responsibility. We need to take the best of both systems... a fusion of the best aspects of both. ~ Benjamin Creme
  • The new politics will no longer be molded by the ‘isms’ of capitalism or socialism, but created from self-respect in individuals and nations... Capitalism, in its pure form, is at an end in Europe. It has no future whatsoever. Instead, countries will model their governments on a form of democratic socialism.
    • Benjamin Creme Maitreya’s Mission Volume Two, Share International (1993)
  • Capitalism without socialism is like a great shark in the waters that will eat up everything in sight, and has no group sense or social responsibility. We need to take the best of both systems and bring them together....a fusion of the best aspects of both. Both are necessary. The sense of justice, brotherhood and social caring... is necessary for the West, but the sense of freedom of the individual in movement, expression and thought is necessary in the East. That is something which will... gradually become the norm in Europe and eventually throughout the world.... not capitalism or communism, but social democracy or democratic socialism with full participation of all peoples in their own government.
    • Benjamin Creme Maitreya’s Mission Volume Two, Share International (1993)
  • If you see a nation as a cart, it must have two wheels; otherwise it will not go. If one wheel alone is capitalism, it will not move. If one wheel alone is socialism, it will not move. The only thing that will make the cart, that is your political/economic structure, work properly is to have the best of socialism and the best of capitalism. The Masters advise 70 per cent socialism to 30 per cent capitalism as the best proportion.
  • Capitalism, in its pure form, is at an end in Europe. It has no future whatsoever. Instead, countries will model their governments on a form of democratic socialism. Gradually this will become the model for all nations as the most effective way to ensure that the voice and will of the people is properly represented.
    • Benjamin Creme Maitreya’s Mission Volume Two, Share International p. 131 (1993)

D[edit]

  • Capitalism is a system designed by the owning class to exploit the rest of us for their own profit. We must replace it with democratic socialism, a system where ordinary people have a real voice in our workplaces, neighborhoods, and society... We believe there are many avenues that feed into the democratic road to socialism. Our vision pushes further than historic social democracy and leaves behind authoritarian visions of socialism in the dustbin of history.. We want a democracy that creates space for us all to flourish not just survive and answers the fundamental questions of our lives with the input of all. We want to collectively own the key economic drivers that dominate our lives, such as energy production and transportation. We want the multiracial working class united in solidarity instead of divided by fear. We want to win “radical” reforms like single-payer Medicare for All, defunding the police/refunding communities, the Green New Deal, and more as a transition to a freer, more just life.
  • Democracy has so disappeared in the United States that there are some subjects that cannot even be discussed. The essence of the democratic process is free discussion. There was a time, when men were not allowed to talk of universal suffrage, education for women, or freedom for Negro slaves. Today communism is the dirty word and socialism is suspect. ... In this state, and in our time, occurred one of the worst blows to the democratic process which our nation has suffered. Senator McCarthy succeeded in making America afraid to discuss socialism.
    • W. E. B. Du Bois, Speech at University of Wisconsin, 1960, as reproduced in Against Racism: Unpublished Essays, Papers, Addresses, 1887-1961, p. 303

E[edit]

I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals... The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society. ~Albert Einstein


Albert Einstein Why Socialism? (1949)[edit]

"Why Socialism? by Albert Einstein" Monthly Review,New York (May 1949)
  • Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life.
  • I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.
  • How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured? Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition.

F[edit]

  • Democratic socialism traces its origin to a moral revolt against the inhuman dictatorship which nineteenth century capitalism imposed upon our people, and it has rejected with no less vigour in this century another form of inhuman dictatorship into which Marxism was tragically distorted.
  • Michael Foot, in Gerald Kaufman, Renewal: Labour's Britain in the 1980s (1983), also quoted in Stuart Thomson, The Dictionary of Labour Quotations, Biteback Publishing, 2013.
  • (A Democratic Socialist is one who believes) We cannot afford to lose any of the fundamental achievements of modern democracy–either the fundamental one of representative government, that is, government elected by the people and responsible to the people... Nor can we compromise the newer democratic principle that no one shall be allowed to starve, that society is responsible for all its members, that no one shall be frightened into submission and lose his human pride through fear of unemployment and starvation...These basic achievements must not only be preserved; they must be fortified and expanded... Progress for democracy lies in enhancing the actual freedom, initiative, and spontaneity of the individual, not only in certain private and spiritual matters, but above all in the activity fundamental to every man’s existence, his work....The irrational and plan-less character of society must be replaced by a planned economy that represents the planned and concerted effort of society as such. Society must master the social problem as rationally as it has mastered nature. One condition for this is the elimination of the secret rule of those who, though few in number, wield great economic power without any responsibility to those whose fate depends on their decisions... We may call this new order by the name of democratic socialism but the name does not matter; all that matters is that we establish a rational economic system serving the purposes of the people.
Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

K[edit]

  • Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.
    • Martin Luther King, Jr., May 1965 speech to the Negro American Labor Council, in T. Jackson, From Civil Rights to Human Rights (2009), p. 230
  • Democratic socialism turns out to be an inherently unstable compound, a contradiction in terms. Every social-democratic party, once in power, soon finds itself choosing, at one point after another, between the socialist society it aspires to and the liberal society that lathered [sic] it... [S]ocialist movements end up [in] a society where liberty is the property of the state, and is (or is not) doled out to its citizens along with other contingent 'benefits'.
Whoever wants to reach socialism by any other path than that of political democracy will inevitably arrive at conclusions that are absurd and reactionary both in the economic and the political sense. ~ Vladimir Lenin

L[edit]

  • The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few. Where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe. And where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.
    • Clause 4, as redrafted in 1995, from the constitution of the Labour Party in the UK
  • Whoever wants to reach socialism by any other path than that of political democracy will inevitably arrive at conclusions that are absurd and reactionary both in the economic and the political sense.
    • Vladimir Lenin, "Two Tactics of Social Democracy in the Democratic Revolution" (1905), Collected Works, vol. 9, p. 29
  • The old trick of the reactionaries: first to misinterpret socialism by making it out to be an absurdity, and then to triumphantly refute the absurdity! ...By political equality Social-Democrats mean equal rights, and ... abolition of classes. As for establishing human equality in the sense of equality of strength and abilities (physical and mental), socialists do not even think of such things.


M[edit]

  • An economic analysis of the political institutions of democratic socialism shows that democratic socialism must necessarily fail for political (not economic) reasons even if nobody in authority has ill-intentions or abuses their power.
  • On MSNBC, Stephanie Ruhle confidently declared that democratic socialists make “no call for communal ownership of production.” According to Ruhle, the excitement around the emerging socialist movement is much ado about nothing: democratic socialists want good things like free college and public libraries — and that’s pretty much it.
    While we definitely support good library systems, democratic socialists’ vision of a better society and how to achieve it goes much further. The world we live in now is called a democracy; the United States is the wealthiest country in all of human history, and ...is defined not by freedom and abundance, but exploitation and oppression. A tiny number of rich and powerful families lives off of the profits they make from trashing the environment and underpaying, overworking, and cheating the vast majority of society — the working class. They get richer precisely because the poor and working class get poorer. This capitalist class turns workplaces into mini-authoritarian regimes, where bosses have the power to harass and abuse workers. And they protect their power in all corners of society by fanning the flames of racial, national, and gender conflict and prejudice in order to divide working people and stop us from organizing. Democratic socialists want to end all of that.
  • We know not everyone on the progressive left agrees with us yet that... building a better society will take the far-reaching changes that we think are necessary. And many have not come to the same conclusion we have that the leadership of the Democratic Party is in the pocket of big business and criminally incompetent... In the short term, then, the task of democratic socialists in elections is to support campaigns that fight to improve the lives of working people and build working-class power... what all of our candidates have in common is support for Medicare for All, labor rights, a higher minimum wage, environmental protections, stopping deportations, and ending mass incarceration... Our goal is to get millions of people who have given up on politics to join the struggle, test the limits of what concessions can be won in the here and now, and to persuade our co-fighters on the progressive left that a more ambitious, socialist strategy is needed to build the kind of world we all want to live in.
The definition of Democratic Socialism, to me, again, is the fact that in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live... Every working class American...should have access to dignified health care, should actually be able to go see a doctor without going broke. It means you should be able to send your kids to college and trade school if they so choose. And no person should feel... unstable in their access to housing... ~Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

O[edit]

Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it. ~ George Orwell
  • To me, you know, to answer your question, the definition of Democratic Socialism, to me, again, is the fact that in a modern, moral and wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live. And to me that means every working class American in this country should have access to dignified health care, should actually be able to go see a doctor without going broke. It means you should be able to send your kids to college and trade school if they so choose. And no person should feel precarious or unstable in their access to housing as our economy develops.
  • The Spanish war and other events in 1936-7 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it. It seems to me nonsense, in a period like our own, to think that one can avoid writing of such subjects.
Social democracy adopts a flexible approach to institutional arrangements and social reforms; it has no unalterable blueprint to impose on society...Social democracy is more a method of social change than a definition of what society should look like. **Bayard Rustin

R[edit]

  • Let us begin by a definition of Socialism. The definition must consist of two parts, economic and political. The economic part consists in State ownership of ultimate economic power, which involves, as a minimum, land and minerals, capital, banking, credit and foreign trade. The political part requires that the ultimate political power should be democratic.
Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy. Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system in America today which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt... ~Bernie Sanders
A nationalized planned economy needs democracy, as the human body needs oxygen. ~ Leon Trotsky
There’s nothing less Democratic than socialism, which always gives rise to tyranny. ~Donald Trump
Democratic socialism is the only possible sane and living socialism. ~ H. G. Wells
  • Thus social democracy is neither pro-capitalist nor, for the present, rigidly anti-capitalist. Indeed, social democracy (and in the United States, a roughly analogous coalition of labor, liberals, and minorities) has already greatly transformed capitalism. Social democracy adopts a flexible approach to institutional arrangements and social reforms; it has no unalterable blueprint to impose on society. Every social-democratic proposal is motivated and tested by its probable consequences for the democratic life of the community. Social democracy is more a method of social change than a definition of what society should look like.

S[edit]

  • We have to talk about democratic socialism as an alternative to unfettered capitalism, where the rich get richer and almost everybody else is getting poorer. I think that’s a message that young people are receptive to, and I think it’s a message that working people are receptive to.
  • Right now, the average worker in America is making, in inflation-accounted-for dollars, and despite a huge increase in technology and worker productivity, exactly the same amount of money that he or she made 43 years ago. That’s incomprehensible.
  • There has been a massive transfer of wealth from the working class of this country to the top 1 percent. And at the end of the day, John—and the media doesn’t talk about it, the corporate media does not talk about it—nobody can defend three families in this country owning more wealth than the bottom half of the American people. Or that 49 percent of all new income today goes to the top 1 percent. That is indefensible. That is outrageous. That is immoral. And I think the American people understand that has got to change...
  • Let me define for you, simply and straightforwardly, what Democratic socialism means to me. It builds on what Franklin Delano Roosevelt said when he fought for guaranteed economic rights for all Americans. And it builds on what Martin Luther King, Jr said in 1968 when he stated that; “This country has socialism for the rich, and rugged individualism for the poor.” It builds on the success of many other countries around the world that have done a far better job than we have in protecting the needs of their working families, the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor.
    Democratic socialism means that we must create an economy that works for all, not just the very wealthy. Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system in America today which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt.... Wall Street CEOs who help destroy the economy get raises in their salaries. This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. meant by socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for everyone else.
    We should not be providing welfare for corporations, huge tax breaks for the very rich, or trade policies which boost corporate profits as workers lose their jobs. It means that we create a government that works for works for all of us, not just powerful special interests. It means that economic rights must be an essential part of what America stands for.
  • Democratic socialism means that we must reform a political system in America today which is not only grossly unfair but, in many respects, corrupt.... Wall Street CEOs who help destroy the economy get raises in their salaries. This is what Martin Luther King, Jr. meant by socialism for the rich and rugged individualism for everyone else.
    We should not be providing welfare for corporations, huge tax breaks for the very rich, or trade policies which boost corporate profits as workers lose their jobs. It means that we create a government that works for works for all of us, not just powerful special interests. It means that economic rights must be an essential part of what America stands for.
  • I don't believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up, not down. I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here, rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad.
  • I happen to believe also that what, to me, democratic socialism means is we deal with an issue we do not discuss enough... not in the media and not in Congress. You’ve got three people in America owning more wealth than the bottom half of this country. You’ve got a handful of billionaires controlling what goes on in Wall Street, the insurance companies and in the media. Maybe, just maybe, what we should be doing is creating an economy that works for all of us, not 1%. That’s my understanding of democratic socialism.
  • We have to talk about democratic socialism as an alternative to unfettered capitalism, where the rich get richer and almost everybody else is getting poorer. I think that’s a message that young people are receptive to, and I think it’s a message that working people are receptive to.
  • Right now, the average worker in America is making, in inflation-accounted-for dollars, and despite a huge increase in technology and worker productivity, exactly the same amount of money that he or she made 43 years ago. That’s incomprehensible.
  • There has been a massive transfer of wealth from the working class of this country to the top 1 percent. And at the end of the day, John—and the media doesn’t talk about it, the corporate media does not talk about it—nobody can defend three families in this country owning more wealth than the bottom half of the American people. Or that 49 percent of all new income today goes to the top 1 percent. That is indefensible. That is outrageous. That is immoral. And I think the American people understand that has got to change...
  • The difference between my socialism and Trump's socialism is, I believe the government should help working families, not billionaires.
  • Let's talk about democratic socialism. We are living in many ways in a socialist society right now. The problem is, as Dr. Martin Luther King reminded us, "We have socialism for the very rich, rugged individualism for the poor." When Donald Trump gets $800 million in tax breaks and subsidies to build luxury condominiums, that's socialism for the rich. We have to subsidize Walmart’s workers on Medicaid and food stamps because the wealthiest family in America pays starvation wages. That's socialism for the rich. I believe in democratic socialism for working people. Not billionaires. Health care for all. Educational opportunity for all.
  • ...what of the many governments in the developing world that still call themselves socialist, particularly one-party states? In many ways, one-party Communist states have shared more in common with past authoritarian capitalist “developmentalist” states — such as late nineteenth-century Prussia and Japan, and postwar South Korea and Taiwan — than with the vision of democratic socialism. These governments prioritized state-led industrialization over democratic rights, particularly those of an independent labor movement.

T[edit]

  • Socialism accepts... the principles, which are the cornerstones of democracy, that authority to justify its title , must rest on consent; that power is tolerable only so far as it is accountable to the public; and that differences of character and capacity between human beings, however important on their own plane, are of minor importance when compared with the capital fact of their common humanity. Its object is to extend the application of those principles from the sphere of civil and political rights, where, at present, they are nominally recognized, to that of economic and social organization, where they are systematically and insolently defined.
  • I shall not stir multitudes, but may persuade my readers when I say that democratic socialism, not sure of all answers, not promising sudden utopias, is the world's best hope.
  • A nationalized planned economy needs democracy, as the human body needs oxygen.
    • Leon Trotsky in a statement of 1936, as quoted in The Informed Vision: Essays On Learning And Human Nature (2002) by David Hawkins, p. 25; sometimes paraphrased "Socialism needs democracy like the human body needs oxygen."
  • There’s nothing less Democratic than socialism, which always gives rise to tyranny.
    • Donald Trump, as quoted in Trump: ‘America Will Never Be A Socialist Country’, Daily Wire, February 19 2019

W[edit]

  • Make socialists and you will achieve socialism; there is no other way. Democratic socialism is the only possible sane and living socialism. The only possible socialistic state is a state which is understood, upheld, willingly and cheerfully lived, by the great mass of the people.
    • H. G. Wells, "The Faults of the Fabian", (1906), reprinted in Samuel Hynes, The Edwardian Turn of Mind, Random House, 2011.

Y[edit]

  • Young Democratic Socialists of America is the youth and student section of the Democratic Socialists of America, and a national organization of recognized campus chapters and several hundred activists. We are students organizing in our universities, colleges, and high schools to fight for the immediate needs of workers and students while building our capacity to fight for more radical and structural changes. We work with labor campaigns to organize student workers of staff. We organize to defend immigrants through campaigns for sanctuary campuses. We campaign to divest our schools from fossil fuels. We do anti-poverty work through local mutual aid programs in our communities, and much much more.

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