One of the key steps the movement for economic, racial and environmental justice, as well as peace, must develop is a vision for the future. People in the movement need to see where we are going, and what the goals are in order to work effectively for the transformational change that the country needs.
We have published other visionary perspectives, e.g. A Vision for Black Lives, demands of the Occupy movement and fifteen core issues developed at Occupy Washington, DC. Prior to Occupy, we published The Agenda for a Democratized Economy on our economic website It’s Our Economy. We will continue to publish visions for the future economy and the demands of the movement, as we need to sharpen our analysis so that when the opportunity arises, the movement is ready to push forward toward a common vision.
Politico is a mainstream corporate news outlet that covers politics inside the box of the two Wall Street-funded political parties. So, while it does a good job of covering politics within that context, it is not an outlet we go to for creative thinking. That is why it was surprising when Politico published a lengthy article, “What Would A Socialist American Look Like?” The article was a fair representation of the views of Democratic Socialists and laid out an image of what the United States would look like if the economy were democratized, workers were empowered, racism was confronted and there was equity in an economy that put the people’s necessities first. Of course, they add some views that mouth concern for social welfare but say socialism is impossible in the US because it is too big and diverse, we need to fund the military to protect ourselves and our allies and the US cannot accept the high taxes that would be required. All false, arguments, but the editors must be pleased these views were included. Here’s a summary of some of the comments:
If it’s good enough for the Nordics, it’s good enough for us.
Matthew Bruenig is the founder of the People’s Policy Project, a progressive think tank.
“One way to implement socialism in the United States would be to copy many of the economic institutions found in the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. These countries, which consistently rank near the top of the world in happiness, human development and overall well-being, have highly organized labor markets, universal welfare states and relatively high levels of public ownership of capital.
“To move in the Nordic direction, the United States should promote the mass unionization of its workforce, increase legal protections against arbitrary termination and allow workers to control some of the seats on the corporate boards of the companies they work in . . .”
Bruenig goes on to point to various policies including “‘Medicare for All’ proposals, extended paid leave from work for new parents, provide free childcare and pre-K, and giving each family a $300 per month allowance per child.” To create income for people he urges “increase public ownership over capital, the government should establish a social wealth fund and gradually fill that fund with capital assets . . . the returns from this fund could be parceled out as universal payments to every American.”
Democratic socialism is about expanding democracy.
David Duhalde is the senior electoral manager for Our Revolution, the Sanders-inspired progressive nonprofit.
“The often-ignored core of how we would implement socialism is the expansion of who makes decisions in society and how, including the democratic ownership of the workplace. Democratic socialism in the United States is as much about expanding democracy as it is anything else.”
He urges moving toward “social democracy” and gives two examples: “universal health care and a jobs guarantee,” which have been introduced in the Senate. He also urges “democratizing ownership” where workers have a say in how businesses are run. This can be done through worker co-operatives, worker councils, unions\ and worker membership on the board of directors. In addition, ownership means workers sharing in profits generated by the business so they can build wealth.
Call it what you want, it’s about making communities more equal.
Rashida Tlaib is the Democratic candidate for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.
Tlaib describes a country where that ensures “government policy puts human needs before corporate greed and that we build communities where everyone has a chance to thrive.” This includes “a living wage for all people, abolishing ICE and securing universal health care, to name just a few.”
Socialism would remedy the systemic deprivation of people of color.
Connie M. Razza is director of policy and research at the think tank Demos.
Razza focuses in on the racial inequity in the country writing, “A more democratically socialist—or equitable—American economy would require a re-engineering of the structures that have systematically stripped wealth and other resources from communities of color.” There also needs to be a reconsideration of the role of corporations as they benefit from the infrastructure put in place by the government. They should serve the people’s necessities. Further, “an equitable future requires that everyone has an equal say in American democracy…Money should not give the wealthy extra votes. A more balanced political economy would recognize that only speech is speech…”
Democratic socialism means democratic ownership over the economy.
Peter Gowan is a fellow with the progressive nonprofit the Democracy Collaborative.
“A democratically elected government should own natural monopolies such as utilities and rail transport; provide social services like health care, education, housing, child care and banking; and create a general welfare state that eliminates poverty through guaranteeing a minimum income, with assistance for people with disabilities, the elderly and families with children.” Beyond that Gowar urges, “measures to establish democratic ownership over the wider economy, and eliminate our dependence on industries that rely on pollution and war for their existence.”
Gowan’s vision is “A democratic socialist America would be a society where wealth and power are far more evenly distributed, and it would be less cruel, less lonely and less alienating. Democratic socialism aims for the liberation of human agency and creativity…” and he sees a global vision on these issues.
It’s about giving everyone a voice in decision-making.
Maria Svart is national director of the Democratic Socialists of America.
Svart bases her vision on people having a voice in deciding the future. Building on that premise she writes, “We don’t have a blueprint, so expanding democracy to include all of us is both the means and the end.” Currently, US capitalism is a “dictatorship of the rich.” In a truly democratized government and economy, “public services like health care will be available to all, and will be run with community oversight.” Today, decisions “depend on the whims of the few” in her vision they would be determined by the views of the many acting in community.
It’s much simpler: social insurance.
Samuel Hammond is director of poverty and welfare studies at the free market think tank the Niskanen Center.
Hammond seems to be added to make the point that socialism is impossible in the United States, writing, “the United States will never have the high-trust brand of social democracy one finds in Northern Europe.” But, he does see Social Security as a tremendous success and supports expanding that to “social insurance” where the country pools resources to respond to risks, healthcare and sudden loss of a employment. He urges advocates not to occupy Wall Street but to occupy “streets of Hartford, Connecticut—the nation’s insurance industry capital.”
Forget social democracy. America is ready for actual socialism.
Joe Guinan is executive director of the Next System Project at the Democracy Collaborative.
Guinan describes socialism in the US as being “bottom up, in line with America’s best traditions—able to draw, like the New Deal, on a rich tapestry of experimentation in state and local ‘laboratories of democracy.’ It will be democratic, decentralized and participatory. It will be rooted in racial, gender and sexual justice.” He sees living within a “flourishing commons…rather than overshooting ecological boundaries.” He envisions “actual socialism, rather than social democracy or liberalism, because it will have socialized the means of production.” He sees an economy rooted in “participatory, recirculatory local economy… worker, community and municipally owned firm(s)…democratic public enterprise(s)…public banks and sovereign government finance.”
A radical alternative to an American capitalist system that is anything but free.
Thomas Hanna is director of research at the Democracy Collaborative.
“A practical form of socialism in the United States in the 21st century would occur when democratic ownership displaces and supersedes the current, dominant extractive corporate model. There is no single, ideal form of democratic ownership, but an enormous variety including full state ownership, partial state ownership, local/municipal ownership, multi-stakeholder ownership, worker ownership, consumer cooperative ownership, producer cooperative ownership, community ownership and sustainable local private ownership.”
America could turn into Western Europe. But should it?
Carrie Lukas is the president of the Independent Women’s Forum. She lived in the European Union for the majority of the past decade.
Lukas seems to have been included to support the continuation of the military-industrial complex and why we need to continue to spend money on weapons rather than on social well-being. She writes that Europe has been able to forego massive military spending because the US protects Europe. She is opposed to cuts in military spending, writing, “Meaningfully cutting defense spending will make not just our country, but the world, less secure.” She also opposes the high taxes of social democracy. She seems to be included to remind us of the dinosaur thinking that too many people in the United States hold. Of course, having a women’s group taking this view is done because it is more welcoming than a white male militarist showing this pro-militarist mentality.
A complete welfare state, a transformed labor market and state ownership of the means of production.
Ryan Cooper is a national correspondent for The Week.
“The basic objective would be to harness the wealth developed by the collective operation of the economy on behalf of the entire population, because it is unjust for a tiny elite minority to hoover up a gigantic fraction of income and wealth while millions are destitute or just scraping by.”
He sees three immediate goals: first, economic protection for “the unemployed, children, students, elderly, disabled, carers…”. Second, he empowers workers through almost all workers being in unions, shrinking disparity of incomes and workers being on boards of corporations. Finally, direct ownership of the means of production “through building up productive state enterprises, nationalizing certain key companies” creating a social fund used to share the wealth with all people.
Markets are not enough to solve the problems we face.
Sean McElwee is a writer and the co-founder of Data for Progress.
“Socialism is the radically simple idea that democratic values should guide our economy toward the maximization of human flourishing, rather than the accumulation of capital.” He goes on to write, “When our economy is not democratic, it’s impossible for our government to be. We cannot steer our society toward maximum well-being as efficiently as the interests of capital override the interests of our shared humanity.” His describes how “markets are not enough” to provide for the necessities of the people and to protect the planet, pointing to climate change as a prime example where corporations profit from destroying the planet. He summarizes “Socialists believe that without democratic control of capital and an end to imperialism, the goals of progressivism will be left unfulfilled..”