There is much confusion today about what Democratic Socialism is. Many people who identify as Democratic Socialists are not actually Democratic Socialists.
Some say Democratic Socialism is when the government takes all your stuff and redistributes it to the lazy.
Others Say Democratic Socialism is what countries like Cuba, Venezuela, USSR, and North Korea.
Some say Democratic Socialism is free healthcare, free education, and a living wage.
Others say it is a giant prison state where the state takes away all your freedoms!
Some people like Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez call themselves Democratic Socialists.
The main point of this article is to clear the record on what Democratic Socialism is and how it differs from Social Democracy.
To understand the route of both of these ideas, we must first take a look at what Socialism is.
Socialism can be characterized simply, as the social ownership and the self management of the means of production. Socialism looks to abolish the profit motive and focus on needs of society.
So now that we know what Socialism is we can look at what Social Democracy is.
First off, Social Democracy, is not Socialism at all. It has little to do with the idea of Social Ownership. Social Democracy is a Capitalist system because it does not focus on needs but it continues the focus on profit motive. It does not completely do away with private industry, like Socialism, but makes some other industries public.
Social Democrats also look to work within liberal democratic capitalist parties to bring about reforms.
Social Democracy is often seen as a compromise between Socialism and Capitalism. Social Democracy looks to create and expand a welfare state.
Social Democrats support the ideas of a living wage, free college, regulating banks, regulating industry, union rights, free healthcare, free childcare, free care for the elderly, and workers compensation. It can sometimes include federal jobs programs, and higher infrastructure spending. They also support higher taxation on the wealthy.
Famous Social Democrats include: Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Clement Attlee, and Jeremy Corbyn.
Countries that have or had Social Democracy: the Scandinavian countries (Finland, Norway, Sweden,Iceland, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Netherlands, Belgium
Democratic Socialism is entirely different from Social Democracy. Democratic Socialism focuses on evolutionary change to a post-capitalist society. Democratic Socialist look to bring the power into the hands of normal working people over the vast resources of society.
Democratic Socialism can be defined as democracy alongside the social ownership of the means of production. The reason the phrase “Democratic” is added to the word Socialism is that many Democratic Socialist saw the USSR, Cuba, North Korea, and China’s form of Socialism as fundamentally undemocratic. Therefore to distinguish themselves from these countries they call themselves “Democratic Socialists”.
Many Democratic Socialists take the radical positions on the abolition of prisons, and the abolition of the police, as they see these two as cruel and inhumane elements of Capitalist society that must be abolished.
Democratic Socialists would be further to the left than Social Democrats. Democratic Socialists would support all of the things that Social Democrats support but that would be where they start. They would look to go further than that. They look to legislate the control of the means of production and hand it over to the workers. They would look to bring all resources under social and common ownership to be used to satisfy the needs of society rather than the profit of a few. Democratic Socialists would be against centralized planning, because they see it as “Undemocratic”. Democratic Socialist would favor a democratically planned society not just planned by the party bureaucrats but by the majority of the workers themselves.
Famous Democratic Socialists include: Bertrand Russell, Martin Luther King, Helen Keller, Eugene V. Debs, Daniel DeLeon (kinda), Cornel West, Michael Harrington, Eduard Bernstein, Charlie Chaplin.
Democratic Socialism and Social Democrats are similar in the aspect that most prefer to bring about change in non violent ways, mostly through parliamentary or electoral reforms. However, Democratic Socialism is a post capitalist ideology based on the social and democratic ownership of the means of production alongside a democratic political system.
Both Social Democracy and Democratic Socialism limit themselves with what is possible, by working within institutions that are controlled by the ruling class through various ways, and are institutions designed to represent the ruling classes ideology and worldview.