Social Democracy vs. Democratic Socialism

Social Democracy vs. Democratic Socialism

In this post, I want to explain why I have shifted my allegiance from social democracy to democratic socialism. Before that I will define these two ideas in order to be able to distinguish these two. By making a distinction between these terms, I will emphasize the incompatibility between these two ideas, even though in final goal or in particular policies there might be significant overlap. Even though my emphasis will be to distinguish social democracy and democratic socialism, I will also provide a contrast with a third strain in socialist thinking, namely authoritarian socialism. I will outline some historical context of socialist ideas and policies, and will conclude with some thoughts on the complexity of social change.

Social democracy is the promotion of a mixed economy, in which the private capitalist sector is retained, but social welfare provisions are in place to make capitalist’s activity tolerable to society at large. Democratic socialism is the promotion of an alternative economic system, in which the means of production are controlled democratically by the workers.1 Despite those differences, social democracy and democratic socialism have both common roots in the industrial revolution and the growing class separation between the proletariats, or workers, and the bourgeoisie, or the capitalists. This class separation and the existing economic system that is based on class conflict was best described by Karl Marx2, who synthesized various streams of socialist thought, the ideas of political economy, and German Naturphilosophie to provide a strong analysis of what he called capitalism. Henceforth, it was the call of the socialists in the western countries to bring about change to the existing economic order. The main dispute is how that change should look like. The anticipation of traditional Marxists (and Marx himself) was that the contradictions of capitalism would grow to such a large extent that the working class will have to one day overthrow the capitalist regime3, and create a socialist society, where the means of production are owned by the society at large rather than by a few individual capitalists.

It should be fairly obvious by now that this has not happened, but what I want to focus on here is which strategy the socialist left has deployed to achieve social transformation. One possibility was by a socialist revolution that should be done violently and quickly. This situation has occurred in all state socialist regimes beginning with the Soviet Union in Russia, China, Vietnam, Yugoslavia and Cuba, among others. The most vocal proponent for a worldwide revolution was Leon Trotsky4, who argued that without a global communist revolution any attempt to establish socialism in any country would fail. Trotsky lost out, and was ousted by Stalin, who defined totalitarian socialism within one nation-state, opposing all elements that are deemed bourgeois (which practically meant to get rid of all possible opposition even within Stalin’s close ranks).5

Another brand of socialism was democratic socialism, which deliberately distanced itself from the totalitarian and authoritarian socialism that could be found in the Soviet Union and other countries, where socialist parties were the ruling power. While democratic socialists agree with other socialists that the capitalist regime will need to be overthrown, any outcome of a revolution has to consider the political participation of the working class, the very same class in whose interest a revolution ought to be carried out. In contrast, the existing state socialism, which Stalin and others promoted in order to suppress “bourgeois reactionaries”6, has had no commitment to democratic participation of the workers, who at the time of the October Revolution were relatively weak, considering that Russia was a mostly peasant society.7

A third strain within the socialist movement are the social democrats, whose intellectual father is Eduard Bernstein. Bernstein disagreed with the revolutionary change in society, even though he agreed that socialism was a worthy goal. He argued that socialism has to be achieved piecemeal and via legal and economic reform, not via revolution. The bourgeois society does not have to be overthrown. The capitalist may remain in power, but economic redistribution and social programs should allow the created wealth to be transferred to working class people. Over the long term, the bourgeoisie is somehow expected to wither away, similar to what Marx thought of with the state under socialism.8 With this moderate approach, factions among the capitalists jumped on the band wagon and mildly supported redistribution schemes that materially benefited the workers.9 This process allowed many social democrats to become elected to political power.10 The Great Depression of the 1930s and World War II generated sufficient social pressures and the material conditions to create a generous and comprehensive welfare state.11 Social democratic politicians were in power in many European states. If they were not the political leaders, then at least their policies of Keynesian active government intervention to stimulate demand and investments to sustain full employment were strongly in place. The capitalists did not bother about more welfare and higher worker wages, because the profit rates were high. That was the case in the United States, because no other country was economically comparable to the U.S. It was also the case in Western Europe, where the economic recovery of Germany (Wirtschaftswunder) allowed many countries to improve their standard of living while rebuilding the country from the war and satisfying the profit demands of the capitalists.12

The Keynesian consensus of the post World War II era had to come to an end. By the late 1970s, the economic performance of most western countries deteriorated sharply.13 Neoliberal policies were hastily implemented by the resurgent conservative and neo-liberal governments, notably Thatcher in Britain and Reagan in the U.S. The capital markets were liberalized, the labor protections were lifted, the taxes on the wealthy were reduced. These policies were perceived to be effective responses to a stagnant and inflationary economy, when, in fact, the end of high inflation occurred as a result of labor losing out on the bargaining table against capital.14 High growth rates appeared in emerging economies, not in the capitalist core countries, where deindustrialization weakened the political base of the organized working class. Social democrats facing the unleashed power of capitalists that control mobile capital (increasingly financial)15, a now global labor force (that used to be restricted to the core Western countries and Japan)16, new technology17, and ever-growing multinational corporations18, can not defend the welfare state any longer, and agreed with the neoliberal policy dogma. The “Third Way” under Tony Blair and Gerhard Schroeder articulated the commitment of social democrats to move to the right, and pursue neoliberal policies that have clearly negative consequences on the working class, such as reduced access to social services via the privatization of public goods.19

While the social democratic solution to economic and social problems have historically been the realistic alternative to totalitarian socialism and other small-scale communitarian enterprises (that are not really relevant to the larger society), social democracy has also been co-opted by capitalists, who have no intention to change the fundamental class structure of the economic system, in which a production system is created that avoids crises and places human and social needs above the profit motive. The inability of social democracy to respond to the calls of the population- for an end to austerity measures following the debt and speculative bubble triggered by the banks, the bailout of the banks that perpetrated the bubble, the economic crisis, the contraction in the overall economy, the higher unemployment, the higher underemployment, the greater job insecurity, the lowered social services- reveals the inherent weakness of social democracy. Social democracy, the conscious accommodation to capitalism, can only work very well if there is a broad overlap between the interests of the capitalists and the workers. This can only be the case if the growth rates are high enough to satisfy each interest group, and when these two forces can be held at an equilibrium level (an unduly fetishized term from mainstream economists). But if there is an opening that the capitalists can use in order to aggregate more wealth by inevitably screwing the working class, then the failure of the social democratic model becomes obvious. Social democrats, corrupted by decades of political rule, have to respond to the pressures of the financial and economic overlords, who bankroll their campaigns and dictate government policies through the threat of mobile capital.20

My switch from being a social democrat to becoming a democratic socialist is not merely semantics. The concepts democracy and socialism both contain a lot of importance, but the relationship to the existing class and economic structure are different within these two concepts. I grew up and was politicized as a social democrat, and never thought that criticisms from the far left can be taken seriously. At first, I was exposed to the fallacy that anything left of social democracy must be authoritarian socialism, which was discredited after the fall of the Soviet Union. I also did not believe that the far left could offer any realistic solutions, and that one needs to struggle for government leadership in order to shape the country’s policies in a way that was desirable, regardless of the external policy constraints, such as highly mobile capital. I thought the extreme position of the far left, including democratic socialists, would exclude this political party from seizing power and practically shaping policies.

Then the economic crisis hit, which coincided with Obama’s election to the presidency. America and the world placed their bets on Obama, and that he would deliver on hope and change.21 It turns out that he was good on hope, and not so much on change. Any hopes of a social democratic enterprise need to be buried under the current configurations of capital power as opposed to labor power. At a time of economic crisis, the calls for policies friendly to working people grow louder (as evidenced in the Occupy movement), but the political forces drift further to the right. That was not easy for me to accept, because I had placed my faith in social democratic politics. The material and ideological foundation for a Keynesian welfare state simply did not exist anymore. A return to social democratic politics is simply not realistic, when the capitalists are controlling most of the wealth, and most of the political system. Yet, it remains crucial going into the future that if change on behalf of the workers is to be effected, that a growing politicization of the working class is taking place, and that this will lead to a reconquest of the political system, which will then reshape the economic class relations in society.

The main criticism against democratic socialists and other leftists is not that the ideals they espouse are undesirable. I think that if the case for socialism is made by describing the details of the system, like the shorter work week, the higher real wages financed by enormous technological process, and a political-economic regime that facilitates full employment, then there will be enough people, who will agree with it. I believe this to be the case even in America, that is much less receptive to socialist ideas than other parts of the world, due to its commitment to individualism and capitalism.22 The main criticism against democratic socialists is that it has never been achieved anywhere on a large scale. Authoritarian socialism worked, because the wealthy elements in society were held down by strict social controls through the communist leadership (the latter of which effectively became the capitalist class23). This is the case, even though there were forces destabilizing it, namely due to the inability to satisfy the masses that were latently opposing the regime. The social democratic form of socialism worked, because no revolutionary change was required. The bourgeoisie played an elementary role within the context of social democratic policy, even though it had to swallow some measured designed for the social protection of the workers that would compete for the surplus share going to the capitalist. Even though, a great amount of personal freedom is granted to most people in a social democratic capitalist regime, the social peace can only be seen temporarily.

The most ideal socialist approach has been democratic socialism, because it neither falls into the trap of authoritarian socialism that in the apparent quest to get rid of reactionaries gets rid of the working class it proclaims to advance. It also avoids the pitfalls of social democracy, that, while profits to the capitalist can be guaranteed, can remain an effective way of organizing the economy, but fails to do so, when the profit requirements are not met. In democratic socialism, the workers are required to take charge over the economy, and allocate society’s resources to the benefit of the greatest number of people.

But how to get from here to there? There is no simple answer to this question, and once the ideological perspective of democratic socialism is adopted, the inevitable question of strategy is posed. It was first posed to me by my sociology professor, who is well-versed in the left literature, but finds himself mostly disappointed by what the left has accomplished.24 Even among those intellectuals, who are most committed to the left tradition, there is a remarkable detachment from anything that has been accomplished thus far. Noam Chomsky, while praising every effort of the oppressed, conceded once that he has always sided with the losers.25 This begs the question whether humans are incapable of realizing democratic socialism. I will admit that it requires a great amount of coordination in policies in such a large scale, while accounting for the self-centered interests of people that tend to undermine this policy coordination. By self-centered I do not mean to suggest that all human beings are intrinsically selfish and individualist, even though our capitalist society does a good job of making us think this way.26 By self-centered I mean that most of our habit of thinking is centered on the smallest scale that we can comprehend, namely oneself, the family, the friends and maybe the neighbors. And this type of thinking precedes capitalism, which means that the Marxist desire to change the economic system without understanding the culture might not be enough.27

The daunting prospects of democratic socialism are not at all despairing. They should serve to increase our motivation to find creative solutions to our economic problems as well as solutions to our cultural inability to completely envision a society that fulfills Marx’ call, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”28

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86 Responses to Social Democracy vs. Democratic Socialism

  1. Isaac Burwood says:

    Loved this article. 17 and into politics. Was wondering myself whether I was a social democrat or a democratic socialist

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  3. kerstin magnusson says:

    i am definitely a social democrat. could not live with authoritarian socialism.. i value freedom too much.

  4. Lolcat says:

    You state that “the end of high inflation occurred as a result of labor losing out on the bargaining table against capital”. How is that different from “labor protections being lifted”?

    You also state, “At first, I was exposed to the fallacy that anything left of social democracy must be authoritarian socialism, which was discredited after the fall of the Soviet Union.” How was this “fallacy” discredited by the fall of USSR? You don’t explain at all.

    Your main impetus for your switch seems to be the financial crisis. So, instead of reforming things like campaign finance laws and banking regulations, your solution is a whole new political system?
    I don’t understand why you would skip all of the normal corrective mechanisms of democracy and assume that the underlying philosophy of the system is what is at fault. It would be a hell of a lot easier to overturn citizens united and regulate banks (such as a “too big to exist” law) than to have a goddamn revolution, and probably have a better result too. Democratic socialism is what the USSR was supposed to be before Lenin illegally seized power. It was the philosophy that created the USSR. Why would be turn out better this time?

    • Larry Liu says:

      Less labor protections and labor losing out on the bargaining table should represent the very same phenomenon.
      Authoritarian socialism was discredited by the fall of the Soviet Union, because the Soviet Union had authoritarian socialism, and every sane person, including those on the left, should be happy that the Soviet history has come to a close. I recommend a brief reading of Francis Fukuyama, End of History.
      The normal corrective mechanisms of capitalist failure have worked very well in the past, but I don’t see how they should work now. Economic growth is very low, organized labor is very weak, the feudal-capitalist overlords are more powerful than ever, unproductive finance is triumphant over productive industries, and global climate change accelerates because of our huge ecological footprint. I am glad that you have such an optimist mind with respect to these prospects, but I don’t share such optimism.

    • Ronald Sims says:

      Russia was “SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC” before Lenin, not democratic socialist. And recall what Mr Liu said were the differences!

      And yes, capitalism is too corrupt and rigged against working people. Reform politicians like Obama or Bill Clinton have no real convictions and always sale out to Wall Street. While things worsen for the rest of us , both parties are totally held captive by the Wall Street interests. Sanders, a social democrat, ,has no chance of winning the Democratic nomination but will do what Dennis Kucincich did and throw in the towel and endorse the corporate controlled Democratic nominee, this time, likely Hillary Clinton. Kucinich then balked at Obama’s phony healthcare reform without a public option and then voted for corporate subsidized healthcare anyway. But he had led his supporters to support Obama and that was his limited role. The same will happen with Sen. Sanders!

      So please explain to me why we do not need a socialist revolution. Liberals always perplex me more than people willing to engage in a meaningful discussion of Karl Marx’s ideas and their continued relevancy. Liberals (or progressives) seem to always support the lesser evil and never to achieve what they had wished for. So why should we not study Marx, Rosa Luxembourg, Daniel DeLeon, Eugene Debs or even Albert Einstein (yes, Einstein was a socialist!)?

      There was a time in America when the Socialist Party was popular and did command votes and people read socialist newspapers. Why can working people and even the small businesspeople not do that again instead of listening to corporate-owned media that is against working people and believing the overpaid millionaire news pundits who are paid to be against socialism in any form?

      • Buckman21 says:

        I would think the main reason self-proclaimed liberals don’t go as far as they dream, is because they deep down know it doesn’t work. Take the very first settlers of our country. They did try the socialist/commune idea of everyone gets an equal share, shares the rewards and labor of everyone else. At first it did work. But just as then as it is today, you forget the human element of “why do the work when someone else can do it for me?” Soon, groups of people didn’t do as much, or any at all work as the others yet still got the same benefits. Only after people were given their own parcels of land to reap what the sowed, did the colony flourish. The same can be seen today. The less regulations and red tape a business, individual, or group of people have, the more productive they are.

        Unions for example were there for a need in a certain time and place. But they are not needed anymore today. Do you really think if certain regulations, the minimum wage taken away for example, that people would be forced to work for $!/hr again? I don’t think so. In this age of information and the power of the media bias, no company would ever dare to do such a thing again. Plus, if you don’t want the job, don’t work there. If anything, it would just be funny to watch these types of businesses pretty much commit suicide.

        Is capitalism bad in some ways? Of course. When in anything the human element is injected to the equation, things like self-satisfaction and greed to come to be, but not rampantly. Compared to the other alternatives, it is the best option we have. As long as you have people with a sense of entitlement, resentment, and demand for equality by robbing others that are willing to put the work forth, you are never going to achieve the utopia of socialism that is desired. Jealousy: the mane fuel for leftist ideals.

      • Larry Liu says:

        Buckman21, thank you for your thoughtful reply, and I will take your comment as a basis for a new post, which should benefit all readers.

      • Ronald says:

        Total BS on many levels and no need to respond to such nonsense. I would only suggest we do not live in a society of scarcity. Those earlier societies did not have our productive capabilities., As to unions, they existed then and we need them back again. The minimum wage was a reform and if it were done away with then watch what happens. These capitalists are greedy and have always been such and people will work to live because they have always done so. You, sir, know nothing of history. Go back and learn some history!

      • Buckman21 says:

        Here is plenty of point blank reasons that being a capitalist and a conservative is “all about the money: is a pure false narrative.

  5. WoodpeckerFromMars says:

    All that you said seems etherial and distant to me — without a firm grasp in reality. The simple reason being that, although I am very far from being rich, I am a middle class person earning something that puts me on the top 10~20% (considering my income tax payments). So, the way I see is simple, the government don’t generate wealth directly, it takes money from us and finances the social programs. So, I pay around 20~25% of consolidated taxes form my earnings, which is ok, given the amount of services I get back from the state. However, when I went through the crisis and had my wages lowered to half for about two to three years, I decided to become an entrepreneur, and started to put 90+ hours of work per week, and started to see it grow and took pride on it. Now, if the government increases the taxes, there ought to be a good reason, because the government would be taking part of my effort, part of the hours that I spent away from my family, and give to people that must probably works less than 90 hours per week, or people that does not share my work ethic. There are good reasons for taxes that I would not question, like universal education, a well funded universal retirement system, the space program, basic research, etc. But simple hand out… I don’t think I would. So, you are saying that because I want the taxes to be the minimum and very well explained I am a reactionary? I don’t think so. It’s true that I am no tycoon, very far from the very rich, but if I am successful, I would like to be. I don’t know in Europe but in America Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and many many other were born poor — the wealth is not just passed down from generation to generation to the same old families. These people all started as middle class. I would strongly oppose any system that advocated that I’m bad because I’m successful, that I’m bad because I refuse to give out my gains. If I lived in a society were I could not be creative, than I would simply move to another place were I could. And if I could not find it, then I would simply not be very creative at all, would find an easy boring job in some public office and enjoy a lazy life on the back of the state.

    • Larry Liu says:

      Unfortunately, it is very easy to confuse the very wealthy oligarchs with the small entrepreneurs, which are people like you. I absolutely admire your entrepreneurship and the goods and services you provide to the community, but the small businesspeople are not the cause of this huge increase in inequality, but the big oligarchs of which you named a few names. It is unconscionable to me why middle class and small business people have to ally themselves with the oligarchs, when in fact this oligarchy (the top 1%) absorbs virtually the entire gains of the economy without properly paying off the small workers who have made this wealth creation possible in the first place. But I should also say that we live in a country which already has much abundance, and I would find it fair if people do not orient themselves based on competition, gaining market share and getting rich, but based on solidarity, mutual help, neighborliness, family and the preserving the environment. How we can ever radically transform our value system given the so-called “rational” incentives of our current political economy, I am not certain of that myself.

      • Ronald Sims says:


      • buckman21 says:

        “It is unconscionable to me why middle class and small business people have to ally themselves with the oligarchs, when in fact this oligarchy (the top 1%) absorbs virtually the entire gains of the economy without properly paying off the small workers who have made this wealth creation possible in the first place.”

        Since when is anything in life fair? Do you desire everything equal? No two humans think the same, so a country of millions will never adhere to this thinking.

        Do you think there should be some cap of what constitutes “enough is enough” in terms of wealth? Why? Then you kill incentive to get more money. Why would you care if someone owned 8 jets for the sake of having 8 jets? It isn’t your money, and thinking it just to do a Robin Hood style redistribution is even more unfair. Fairness will never make everyone happy. Just make far more miserable.

  6. doctom2010 says:

    Reblogged this on PROGRESSIVE ACTIVISTS VOICE and commented:
    “In this post, I want to explain why I have shifted my allegiance from social democracy to democratic socialism. Before that I will define these two ideas in order to be able to distinguish these two. By making a distinction between these terms, I will emphasize the incompatibility between these two ideas, even though in final goal or in particular policies there might be significant overlap.”

  7. jonsnyder599 says:

    Brilliant analysis. I’m not sure I completely agree with your conclusion, since Social Democracy seems to still be thriving in Scandinavian and some Northern European countries. I’d be interested in your take on this (perhaps my assumptions are incorrect). This distinction will only become more important if the Sanders’ campaign continues to gain support. I noticed that Sanders labels himself as a Democratic Socialist which seems odd given his speeches and record. Do you think this is just a semantic error on his part?

    • Larry Liu says:

      Hard to say. Bernie sympathizes with socialist philosophy, but he is a political realist, and his program is more social democratic than democratic socialist. When journalists press him on what he means by democratic socialism, he usually refers to the experiences of Scandinavian Social Democratic regimes.

    • buckman21 says:

      The reason it works in those countries I see is this:

      The unemployment rate is very low. So even though taxes are higher, everyone contributes. There isn’t 47% of the country not paying money, while even the richest pay over 70% of the total income taxes already. Even so, making those with more, pay more just for making more, makes no sense to me. It to me takes away the desire for more. Why get rid of my subsidies to make more, when I’m just going to have to pay more in taxes on top of losing my fred stuff? Look for A Tale of Three Brothers on youtube by Prager University, can show what I mean.

      • asher27 says:

        your numbers are entirely wrong. 47% of the population doesn’t pay FEDERAL income tax because they do not meet the threshold to pay it (roughly $50k a year). that does not mean they do not work. if you work as a school teacher putting in 60 hours of work per week but you only make $40k, you’re not a lazy bum as the right wing would like to paint you, you just don’t make enough money to meet the threshold to pay the tax. who gives a damn if the richest pay 70% of the income tax? obviously, more money made = more tax revenue. simple math. the percentage taxed at (35%) remains the same. theres an argument that one should make more brackets and raise the taxes accordingly, since the highest bracket includes people who are really just middle class but live in expensive areas (such as NYC metro area) and aren’t the oligarchs that were trying to target. and don’t even get me started about marginal tax rates, or how the truly wealthy make most of their money from UNEARNED capital gains, not EARNED income, and how it is only taxed at a maximum of 20%. why do you think so many CEOs take $1 in salary and millions in stock options? it lowers their marginal tax rate. warren buffet explained this quite nicely – he, a billionaire – pays a lower marginal tax rate than his secretary. his secretary pays income tax (likely around 30-33%). he pays capital gains tax (likely around 15%). then on top of that, he can claim deductions for his yacht, deductions for his 7th home, etc. by the time you’re done with deductions, the 1% pays far less in percentage than even the lowest wage earners, in terms of marginal tax rate. and thats the money that they have in the US, not hidden in the cayman islands or switzerland – who knows how much is hidden in tax havens.

        in the 1950s the marginal tax rate on the most wealthy was NINETY PERCENT. we did just fine. under reagan, of all presidents, the most wealthy had a marginal tax rate of SEVENTY PERCENT! today, if one is paying the highest capital gains rate, and has a shitty accountant who forgets to work financial magic and take out a bunch of ridiculous, only beneficial to the most wealthy reductions, the marginal tax rate is closer to TWENTY PERCENT.

        and don’t even get me started on all of the corporations who have paid zero taxes, or worse, gotten money back. or the ones who hide their money in tax havens – did you know apple is actually registered in ireland and pays barely any taxes? how can that be, considering their headquarters are in california? its called gaming the system.

        TL;DR: you’re being screwed and you don’t even know it. stop watching stupid youtube videos full of slant and start looking at the cold hard facts: the numbers. stop shooting at crabs in a barrel that look just like you.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        You are so right, asher27. My wife and I do not have a large income but pay a lot in property taxes because I inherited a home in a suburban school district. Then our tax cutting Republican politicians are always finding new ways to reduce taxes but the district always has to make-up for their reductions from the state and ask for more property taxes. The latest gimmick was Governor Kasich taking from the wealthy districts to increase funding for poor school districts. Soon, though, the rich districts will ask for more money. Can not allow those poor kids to have the same goodies as the rich. In the meantime, we pay and pay and pay more. And they even persuade our neighbors that property values will decline if they vote against ever higher taxes.

      • asher27 says:

        ugh, i wish i could edit my comment. that original 47%, while they don’t pay federal income taxes, they do pay state, city, and local income taxes; plus property taxes, sales taxes, usage taxes, etc. even the unemployed pay taxes. hell even the homeless pay taxes – they buy a necessity in a store with what little money they have, and they’re paying sales tax on that item unless they live in a state without it (such as new hampshire).

        they concept that half this country doesn’t pay taxes is a joke, i can’t believe people even buy such a concept. the definition of low info voters.

    • Ronald says:

      1. The Bolsheviks were a splinter from the Russian Social Democratic Party. 2. Rosa Luxembourg, an opponent of reformism and Karl Bernstein, was nevertheless, a member of the German Social Democratic Party. 3. European Social Democrats frequently refer to democratic socialism. 4. In the US, the DSA is clearly social democratic.

      So yes, it may be semantics!

      • Larry Liu says:

        We as intellectuals take our freedom to define terms, while of course in the real world people take terms and do whatever they like with it. If you take any material object, say “telephone”, everybody in command of the English language should know what that means. It might come in different varieties (cell phone, house phone etc.), but we know what the essential features should be. If you take an ideology like “capitalism”, “socialism”, “nationalism” and the like, suddenly people disagree about the meaning of it, because everybody has studied something else, and they have their own interpretation of it. I am giving you mine, and you don’t have to agree with it. Democratic socialists and social democrats come from the same family (Marx being the grandfather), but they have different viewpoints, and I tried to make that clear to the readers.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        The real problem with this distinction is that I do not know of anyone using it. Where are “democratic socialist” nations as distinct from many “social democratic” nations? Many people use “social democrat” as a short form for “democratic socialist” but I can not recall anyone suggesting they are different. I generally agreed with your view of contemporary social democracy. Anyway, I was replying to one of your correspondents who was asking about Bernie Sanders.

        If you wish to argue FOR a democratic society based on socialist principles but not with the all too obvious shortcomings of “social democracy,” then a new term has to be devised that is neutral of not only “social democracy” but of “socialist republic,” “workers’ state” and a lot of other utter non-sense.

        It also seems that I owe you an apology. I read that MS. Sawant of Seattle, Washington is supporting Bernie Sanders.

  8. Ronald Sims says:

    In reply to JohnSnyder, I understand from the US Trotskyist press that there have been some reductions in benefits and so on in the Scandinavian countries. They are very critical of those nations’ social democratic parties. However, they are, unfortunately, admirers of Cuba, even as Cuba lurches towards capitalism, much like China. So if you want consistency—–well!

    One thing I do firmly believe is that Sanders will not be the Democratic nominee. He can not win over voters if they have never heard of him. And even if he won the primaries, the Democratic Party will not select him. Teddy Roosevelt won the Republican Primaries in 1912 but was forced to run an independent campaign because the party establishment were set on William H. Taft. The same thing will happen again with the Dems because they simply want to CORONATE Hillary Clinton.

    In my view, the left in the US lost a real opportunity when people like Sanders did not come out for Ralph Nader.

    But it is also very obvious that the left must put aside their many differences and work together if we are to be taken seriously. Some Trotskyists seem wilingl to do this, even if there are blatant inconsistententcies in their ideas and programs and they endorse authoritarian regimes. Also, the Socialist Party has engaged in fusion politics with the Green Party but has not especially cooperated with other socialist groups. I think this may be because many of the other socialist groups are Trotskyist. I am critical of the Green Party because of the utterly reactionary role the Greens have played in Europe. But the Green Party in the US does have positions similar to what one may call social democratic.

    I would prefer that the unions in the US start a labor party but that is a huge job .And even if we had a labor party like the New Democrats in Canada then what is to prevent it from becoming like the sickening British Labour Party. This is already happening in Canada.

    This is where I fault Sanders! He should promote independent socialist (or Social Democratic) politics. But at the very least, maybe more people will come to understand something about socialist or social democratic ideas. Moving the discussion to the left may be his only lasting contribution but we have to start somewhere.

  9. Pingback: Response to Critics of Socialism | Mr Liu's Opinions

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  11. Bob Armstrong says:

    Mr. Liu: Please explain to me, in your Socialist ideology, the following: I have a very dear friend who has been working on an idea for over four years now. He finally got all his drawings done, made wooden models and finally got a finished product done. He finally got the patents for his invention. He has spent untold hours and most of his hard earned money (Social Security and part time bus driver). It will probably be another year or two of complicated dealings, financing, etc. He has spent many sleepless nights worrying about design problems, patent problems, finances, etc. He now has parts manufacturers lined up and sources for advertising and distribution. He is at the very start now of mass manufacture of this product which has a world wide market, potentially in the hundreds of millions of dollars and maybe in the billions.. So now, if I am getting this right, when he starts his company, the workers will take it over and tell him how much money he can make. They will also negotiate the contracts, consult with distributors, etc. etc. Where do these workers get their business acumen? Who actually runs the company? Are there shareholders? Who is answerable to the shareholders if anyone? Why in the world should someone who has worked so hard, had sleepless nights and spent nearly every penny he has to create a business which will hire people and give most of them middle class earnings and some even more, be deprived of much, if not all of his hard work and labor? What then is the incentive for others to work that hard and go through the myriad of trials and tribulations of bringing a product to market, if only to turn it over to the “people.” In Socialism, if one person is working his butt off and his neighbor is sitting home and watching TV, are they both entitled to the same financial benefits? I am trying desperately to see how Socialism can possibly provide the incentive to become a doctor, lawyer, engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, business person etc. Don’t we have “people” running our government? Who would be running the government in a Socialist system? Would it not be “people.” In the business world? So the workers who are running the company get together and vote on every thing that springs forth in a business and especially a large corporation every day? Reward is an incredible incentive and used as a great technique for training animals. Humans are animals. Reduce incentive and what happens? Socialists have to explain to me how a society exists where everyone is equal. That certainly is not a human trait at all. We are not all equal. We should be under the law, but we do not have the same talents and capabilities. Some of us are even lazy and content to sit around and let the others pull the load. Am I wrong in equating leftist philosophy with Socialism. ie: legalize drugs, prostitution, pornography, etc. etc? If for example a person is addicted to heroin, they obviously cannot do many jobs if they can work at all. As you are probably aware, most drugs require larger and more frequent doses to keep the euphoria. So society is expected to care for this individual and his family including all the necessities of life? I am asking these questions in a very serious vein as I want to understand how a Socialist government and enterprise would run. Simply saying the workers would run the corporation isn’t much of an answer for me. How would they run it? I will tell you that I am a big believer that businesses and Corporations should share the wealth. There was a company down South somewhere that I saw on one of the cable TV stations, where no employee in the company made less than $150,000 a year. From the most menial laborer on up. There were practically no sick days taken, turn over was non-existent, production was through the roof and several of the employees were interviewed and described it as like one big family. But as crazy as it may sound to you, I want that to be done morally and ethically, not dictated by the government. I never want the government to be able to tell me how much I can make. My skills, drive, intelligence and work ethic should dictate that.

    • Larry Liu says:

      Your criticism of democratic socialism is fair, though I should remind you that for Marxists and socialists it can never be true that the entrepreneur has created the wealth on his own account, but wealth creation is always a common enterprise, and to the extent that a few tech and Wall Street billionaires make out like bandits without providing much value to society, we can not presume that the current system produces the fair outcomes that would be necessary for ordinary people to support the current political economy.
      In the ideal case, workers play a greater role in the economy and society, but in practice not all workers are equally knowledgeable, so of course you still need corporate leaders, but they should feel the accountability to their workers and not to shareholders.
      I am very sceptical of the continuation of the capitalist economy, because of the ecological constraints of capitalism, the endless use of fossil fuels is warming our planet, and we should do quickly to develop a society without the profit motive as a primary driver of human life.
      Your debate about big and small government is pointless, because in practice the government will need to be big, even under advanced capitalist economies. The real relevant question is whether the government sides with rich people or with everyone else. And I am sorry, but for me the popular interest trumps the interest of the wealthy.

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        Thank you for your reply, Mr. Lou. I would have appreciated the reply even more had you addressed more of the questions I posed. Are you aware sir, that the earth has not warmed by even 1/2 a degree in the past 18 years? Are you aware that volcanic eruptions have increased rather significantly over the past 50 years? I am one of those People who believe that the “global warming” group are using this as a way of bringing about the Socialist system you so admire. It is why, when global warming could not be shown, the term was switched to ” global climate change.” It is a much better term as ANY changes in weather or climate could then be said to be caused by humans. It is simply a way for the Left to gain control of our industries. What good does it do for the U.S. to destroy its economy by reducing carbon emissions by nearly impossible amounts when so many other countries continue to burn fossil fuels and grow their economies. Their carbon emissions don’t remain in just their country. Neither do the volcanic eruptions that flood the atmosphere with billions of tons of toxic chemicals and yes, carbons.

        But enough of that. Please explain to me how in your system where there is incentive to achieve, to produce, to invent and discover? Can we all truly be equal? Do you really believe that nature or God intended that we all be equal, except under the law?

        Don’t people run the government and institutions of learning and businesses today? If there are injustices in the Capitalist system, why not form a movement to fix those problems instead of switching to an entirely new system of government?

        I can never see your system working for any length of time as it goes against the nature of mankind. Man needs competition, to achieve, to strive for bigger and better things. Going back as far as you want in history, there were leaders and followers, there were the weak and the strong. If you watch children at play you will see it in action amongst them. I don’t think mankind could truly be happy being like everyone else. The “1984” idea of existence. I think that Socialism is simply the stepping stone to Communism. It is the next to last step before arriving ar the Communist doorway. Just my opinion.

      • asher27 says:

        @bob armstrong

        oh so because *you* don’t see how the corporate oligarchs are stealing from the workers, because everyone in your neighborhood has nice homes and you did ok in life, it doesn’t exist? how about some cold hard facts. lets talk about WAGE THEFT. the 6 waltons own more wealth than the bottom 40% of this country! a country of ~330 million people – SIX people own more wealth than 132 million people! you do not earn that. you steal that, in the form of wage theft, and forcing suppliers to sell products for below market wholesale value, which in term makes them pay their workers minimum wage. and of course, strong arming mom and pop shops out of business, and thus decimating rural downtowns. the average sales associate in walmart stores makes $8.81 an hour. if they were to work full time, which they likely wouldn’t since walmart doesn’t want to pay the benefits that a full time worker would receive (and give them erratic schedules that make it harder to work a second or third job), they would make $18,324. thats a few thousand dollars above the poverty line, which is woefully low, and likely closer to the supplemental poverty measurement (unfortunately, the only numbers for that in dollar amount are for 2 adult, 2 child families, and I’m looking at single persons with no kids). what they lose in wage theft they make up for in government assistance – walmart workers are encouraged (!) to apply for food stamps. I’m sorry, but if you’re working full time, you should not be on food stamps. you should be paid appropriately. WE pay for that. WE subsidize walmarts profits. we have socialism for the rich, and dog-eat-dog capitalism for the poor in this country.

        take your blinders off, and leave your comfy suburbia every once in a while to see how the other half – the working poor – lives. if you work full time in this country, you should be earning a living wage out of it. the minimum wage is not a living wage by any stretch of the imagination – if wages kept up with inflation since the 1970s, minimum wage would be over $18 today.

        you’re being screwed. but you don’t see it, because it doesn’t affect you, or so you think (ignorant of the fact your tax money subsidizes their profits). you’re just a temporarily embarrassed millionaire, who votes against your own interests because you truly believe these thieves have “earned” their wealth. they haven’t. also, i see from another post you’re 77 years old or so. guess what, you’ve been collecting retirement for 12+ years now, and likely have a pension on top of that. YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT ITS LIKE FOR THE REST OF US. you lived during the greatest economic boom ever, under DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST systems! i was born in 1989, all i have ever known was failed neoliberal “trickle down economics” policy. back in your day, you could go to college for free, or so damn cheap you could easily work a minimum wage job and have no debt upon graduation. since then, college has gone up 1200% in cost, and the real minimum wage has fallen drastically. one would have to work half the year full time at minimum wage JUST to pay for college, not even living expenses or food or transportation. comparatively speaking, you only had to work 2 weeks full time to afford the same. just writing that makes me seethe with anger and look for my pitchfork. my generation resents yours, for good reason. you’re clueless to our struggle. we will either elect a democratic socialist for president, or we will be bringing out the pitchforks and guillotines within the next decade or two. and speaking of college – i have $24,000 worth of student debt at 6% interest (why, i don’t know, its a federal loan – they’re profiteering off of me), and when i had a job in my field it paid me a laughable amount of money that i couldn’t even move out of my mothers apartment on – what the minimum wage should be, if it kept up with inflation. I’m now underemployed, and when i start my job next month in another state with a more reasonable cost of living, i will be working again at minimum wage. at least you can live in the comfort that you’ll likely be dead by the time my generation grabs their pitchforks and comes after the heads of the 1%.

        reference to the college stats –

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        Asher: You are full of crap to think that my generation had it so easy. What a crock of self indulgent crap. Everything is relative my friend. In those days we didn’t make $8.00 an hour or $15.00 an hour. My first job paid $30.00 a month. My second job paid 75 cents an hour and most of the jobs I held after that paid around 85 cents an hour. When I went into the military, I was paid $90.00 a month. Luckily my wife was a secretary and made $250.00 a month before taxes. Our rent was $110. a month. I started working as a paper boy when I was 9 years old and worked my entire life until I retired. I worked hard and many, many hours. I put my life on the line many times. I was spit on, vomited on, kicked, bit, hit, called every name in the book. I had bags of urine thrown at me while working riots, golf balls with nails in them, flattened beer cans, rocks and bottles.

        When I went on the police department, I started at $409.00 a month before taxes. I had to buy my gun an other equipment. I had to pay 11% of my pay into a retirement account. That continued throughout my career.

        The major difference between my retirement and a person in private industry, is that my money went into a fund that could only be used for my retirement. It could not be used for any other purpose, except a couple of extremely emergent situations. That money was invested in a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds. Thus, my retirement grew considerably. The government was constantly trying to get into the system so they could spend the money, but they gave up after several court decisions absolutely forbid it.

        Social Security recipients, on the other hand, send their money to the SS Administration, who sends there money to the general fund. The treasury sends back an IOU to the SS Administration and the government spends the money. A major Ponzi scheme that depends upon other workers paying into the system to pay those who are retired.

        I spent a whole lot of my career in poor neighborhoods. I worked in them and knew many of the folks who resided there. I probably have a better knowledge of conditions and the things that led to a lot of them being there than you do, dealing with them as I did on a daily basis.

        The trouble we are having now is not because there are some filthy rich people. The problem is we have a government full of bureaucrats who don’t know sh-t about running a business and especially a corporation than flying to the moon, passing regulations to stifle those businesses and corporations. They are the ones who succumb to the wealth. They take bribes, gifts, etc. from wealthy contributors. They don’t honor their oath to protect and defend the Constitution and to faithfully execute their office. A government official who takes a bribe is much worse to me than the corporate executive who offers it. The Corporate Executive doesn’t take any oath. The politician does and his duty is to the citizens.

        I see government as much more of an enemy than do you. Colleges are run by Liberals, yet the Liberals constantly complain about the costs of tuition. Fire the Administrators and get rid of tenure and other perks for the elitist intelligentsia class! Imagine if you would, that lobbying was a felony. That offering a bribe to a politician was punishable by 10 years in prison and taking a bribe by a politician was punishable by 20 years in prison. Do you think we would be in the shape we are in now. How about if we had a tax code that says everyone making over _________? amount has to pay 15% of their net gross in taxes with no deductions and this applies to ALL corporations as well. Do you think we would be in the same state we are in now?

        No, there are lots of things I would change in our government if I could. But I don’t want to live in a world where a Bureaucrat has the discretion to tell me how much money I can make, what size soft drink I am allowed to buy, what kind of food I have to buy or eat, what words I can or cannot say, what kind of car I can own, how far I can drive, where certain individuals are booed and threatened and chased off of college campuses because they are conservative. I don’t want to live in a society where the government is so damn big that when it institutes a program, it forgets it is there and keeps funding it over and over even though it doesn’t work. So many people are so angry with corporations but have no concern over the billions and billions of dollars that are wasted every year by bureaucrats. It is bureaucrats that make corporate welfare possible. It would never happen if the people we elected to run our government were honest, ethical and trustworthy. Where they stuck to the oath of office they take.

        Anyway, Asher, I do not think that our system is perfect. I just think it has worked amazingly well for us in the past and it can in the future if we fix some things that are wrong with it. The idea of tossing out the entire system because some people abuse it, is nuts as far as I am concerned.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        I share your concern for corporate welfare and executives bribing our elected officials. But I do think that this happens everywhere but is a natural consequence of any society where a few people own everything and everyone else will work for them. The corporate class will bribe their way because they do not really believe in a democracy and wish to preserve every advantage, every unethical opportunity, every loophole in the laws or tax codes, etc that they can find. This crap also happens in Communist China, where the bureaucrats do not actually think they should share anything equally with the much touted “people.” And it happens in all of the former Soviet Republics, where after the collapse of the Soviet government, everything the gangster class of former officials could “privatize” they did.

        As to Social Security, raise the so-called “cap” on payments. Better yet, NO CAP! Test-means recipients (a conservative idea ) so the rich do not collect. And I agree they should not raid Social Security for any reason and it should only be to fund retirees. Social Security should actually be increased so that it is a more adequate income for struggling seniors. What we should never do is “privatize” SSI so that it is “managed” by the Wall Street crowd and the seniors will never see a dime.

        And I do not share your concerns for the struggling wealthy paying into Social Security. They have benefited from the social investments that all of us taxpayers have made in funding infrastructure, the military, etc. And they have greatly benefited from this nation. Even Bill Gates has previously said he benefited from access to government funding and research. So please, no tears for the rich.

        And if you think corruption is bad in the USA, then you should see the levels of corruption that exist in other nations. Corrupt police, corrupt officials and even corrupt utility company employees constantly prey on homeowners and businesspeople alike. I have heard these stories first hand when I lived abroad.

        I think our American business community should show some gratitude for living in a society of laws and stop trying to game the system for their advantage and screw their employees or demanding that we shred to peices “the social safety net” because they think they should not pay for it. They even avoid paying their employees the minimum wage or paying overtime. They will connive, ignore and evade whatever laws they can but seek legal protection if they feel wronged. These are some of the reasons, though not all, for poverty.

        And if we had no regulations, then how long would it be before we too have open sewers of toxiic waste and even our public sidewalks become a place of danger because businesses use them? Again, I have seen such things with my own eyes and do not wish to deregulate America so that it becomes a third-world nation.

      • buckman21 says:

        This isn’t 1910 West Virginia or California 1990’s. This is 2015, the information age. There are necessary regulations. For obvious safety and health reasons. But not needed ones like increasing a drought in the farmland of California for the sake of a fish. You really think the media or social networks would let such exaggerated non-regulation hypotheticals happen?

      • Ronald Sims says:

        The last people in the world I trust are our corporate owned media. They would not report the truth if; like a snake, it bit them on the ass. If all regs are abolished then watch the corruption that shall follow and the corporate controlled prostitutes who will “follow the money.” Sorry to prick your capitalist balloon but it is the truth.

    • Ronald Sims says:

      Have you ever heard of a running and disconnected paragraph?

      I do know in answer to your question, not all the great inventions of history were “compensated.” Many were not.

      And we would all be better off without the kind of crony capitalism that exists that jacks up a drug price by 5,000 percent for a drug that is life-sustaining. They do not dare to that to life-style drugs like Viagra.

      I am not worried about your friend being compensated if it is a useful invention. In this century he will receive a large financial reward.

      I am far more concerned about the devastation that capitalism is causing and the return to the society that Charles Dickens had protested.

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        Sorry for the grammatical errors. I got so used to writing on sites where if you pressed the “return” it would end whatever you were writing and send an incomplete message.

        I’M not worried about my friend being compensated in our present system either. I am definitely concerned about him being compensated in a Socialist system.

        I’m sorry but I cannot relate at all to your evaluation that Capitalism is causing devastation. I have lived, worked and retired in this Capitalist society for 77 years and never felt victimized by it.

        I have found on the contrary, that if I worked hard, studied and got an education, I could do reasonably well and live reasonably well. I’m certainly not wealthy but I can take a vacation once in awhile. I have even bought a new car several times.

        I think Capitalism has grown the largest middle class of any country that has ever existed. We were in just over two hundred years, able to grow the strongest economy and achieve more in terms of progress in developing products, medical breakthroughs, etc. Than countries who had been in existence for many more hundreds of years than us.

        I know that many in our society are jealous that other people have more talent, work harder and strive to achieve more than some other people. This means that they make more and have more in terms of material things. However, many of those complaining the loudest, simply do not want to put forth the effort that financial success requires. They feel that since they were born on this planet it is up to others to take care of their needs.

        The tern “fairness” is used a lot by some of the people who feel that they have a right to another man’s labor and the fruits of that labor. They consider that as “fair.” I believe in helping those in our society who are truly handicapped in some way. That a combination of taxes and charity should be available to provide for their needs.

        I believe that when people are deprived by sudden disasters, etc. that there should likewise be systems in place to get them back on their feet. I believe that people should be encouraged to go as high and far as their ability, hard work, and innovative skills will take them.

        I believe that a man/woman should be paid on the basis of the amount of skill and effort his/her job requires and the amount of hours they must work. Yep, I believe that movie stars, TV personalities, athletes and CEO’s should be happy earning say five or ten million instead of fifty million or more. But I do not want a government to tell them how much they can make. I want it to come from a moral desire to say to themselves that enough is enough.

        This might not make sense to you, but I don’t want a government that can dictate what I am worth. I want a free market to determine that and not some bureaucrat.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        Whoever said we have a “free market?” The market is usually rigged.

        And my understanding is that Socialists do wish to compensate the inventors and geniuses of society. I suggest for a fuller understanding of socialism that you read “Why Socialism” on the internet. Albert Einstein wrote it just a few years before his death.

      • Larry Liu says:

        There is an assumption that the free market has worked anywhere, and I can not agree with that. Somebody who has received millions of dollars in compensation has stolen it from hardworking people. It is the government property laws which allow capitalists to reap their profits, and pay their workers as little as possible. But the same government is now not permitted, following your logic, to take back the money which the wealthy have clawed from their workers. Free markets are not free, and even if they are, there are far too many losers.
        You claim that there are more intelligent and less intelligent people, and that the intelligent people always end up on top. I don’t principally disagree with that, but I shall ask whether those at the top should make billions of dollars, while those at the bottom struggle to survive, yet that is the reality of our economic system today.
        Your voluntary self-restraint argument is nice, and Bill Gates and others certainly love to hear that. But it won’t work. It can’t work because of the self-interest and- quite frankly- the greed of very wealthy people, and if that were not the case we should no longer see any homeless people, because no one is prohibiting the rich from helping the poor today.
        I will not debate this issue of climate change, and I suggest you skim the report provided by the IPCC. It is getting visibly more uncomfortable to live on the planet, and the poor people in the global South are worse affected by it than we in the North, even though much of the warming was caused here. You are certainly right that the less developed countries are quickly developing because they are using fossil fuels, but that is why we need the developed countries to quickly adopt renewable energy and share it with the poorer countries, so we can have a fighting chance for survival.

      • buckman21 says:

        Why does it always have to be about fairness? It seems more like jealousy on your part to me. It isn’t your money, why do you care so much? Is there some wage cap that should be in place? Some cap on wealth? I’ve asked these questions to you before in another blog post of yours you based off one of my responses, but didn’t respond.

        By the way, man-made climate change isn’t real. Climate change has always occurred, and will always occur. But on a global scale, we have no say in the matter. If you think the earth shall end up like urban China, get back to me when the whole planet is a metropolis then you can say I told you so.

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        Have you noticed that Mr. Liu feels that only the workers are hard working? I have been a “grunt” and I have been in mid and administrative positions. They higher I went up the chain, the more work I had, the more responsibility, the more knowledge I had to have, the more headaches along with longer hours. The more I had to take time away from my family. I sure get tired of hearing about “the working man.” It’s as if a businessman or a corporate executive doesn’t have to do anything. They just sit back and make millions of dollars.

        I seldom ever hear the left complain about the money movie stars, singers, athletes and TV personalities make. It is always just those evil CEOs. It is perfectly o.k. for Oprah, Celine Dionne, Anderson Cooper, Tom Brady and a myriad of basketball, football, tennis players, baseball players etc. to make millions. But the man who creates a business that hires thousands of people and gives them good paying jobs, is evil. How many jobs does Anderson Cooper create? How many people does Celine Dionne hire?

        Anyway, I liked your post and completely agree with you. They can’t point to anything about climate change except to refer you to some article written by a leftist. They never respond to the fact that volcanic eruptions have increased dramatically over the past 50 years or so. One eruption puts more pollutants, toxins, gasses, carbon and smoke in the air than man can in 100 years of hair spray, cars, trucks, wood burning stoves, factories, etc. etc. etc. Also, the earth has not heated even a half of a degree in the past 18 years. That is why they changed their mantra from “global warming” to “climate change.” Now any changes at all in the weather or climate can automatically be attributed to “climate change.” And it is all man’s fault. Wow! What arrogance to think that man can out produce the earths own cycles of cooling and warming, or that the sun may not have something to do with our climate.

        Anyway, a long winded way of saying I liked and agree with your post. Thanks.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        DITTO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Agree with everything you just said.

        Now could we agree with (yes, some Trotskyists) that America must begin to create a bonafide Labor party, or as I call it, a mass social-democratic party, if we are to ever move the pendulum left..

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        Mr. Liu: Until I read your last post, I could understand your positions, but disagreed with them. This last post, however, turned me completely off. The rich have stolen their wealth from the “working class.” This is typical Communist BS. Not just Democratic Socialism. The wealthy have “clawed” the income away from the working class. What a bunch of total bull puckey! I lived in a middle class neighborhood most all of my life and still do to this day. My mom was a waitress and my dad a truc driver. We certainly weren’t rich, but, we were not poor either. I am surrounded by people who have nice homes, newer cars and all the amenities a good wage provides. Have you ever driven through the suburbs, Mr. Liu? Are you telling me that these people have been poorly treated and mistreated? There are thousands of these neighborhoods all over the U.S. wherein live millions of people who are paid a good livable wage. Where do the millions of college students come from? Dirt farms? Hovels? No, they come from middle class families. There are many hundreds of thousands of people in this country who are making $100,000.00 a year or more. Many others $50,000.00 or more. They work for all types of businesses and corporations. They work hard and have been rewarded with advancement not only in pay but in position. And please don’t ask me if I have seen the inner cities. I worked in them for over thirty years of my life.

        I have worked as a paper boy, bus boy, dish washer, box boy, in a table pad company, a paint company, an office supply company and in a florist shop as a delivery person. I spent four years in the military. I went to school for 16 years part time while working full time as a law enforcement officer, eventually obtaining my law degree. In each job I learned that if I worked hard, I got raises or other perks. It taught me responsibility and many different skills. I quit practicing law after seven years as I didn’t like the lack of ethics and honesty I saw in the profession. But that’s another story.

        What has made the poor, poor in this country, is leftist regulations on business, increased taxation, making the starting of a new business nearly impossible, unrealistic OSHA regulations and many others. And forcing Obamacare down the throats of the American people even though they overwhelmingly rejected it and still do among other things. Now the left is using “climate change” to bring about more regulations on business which will put thousands more out of work. All the while selling the story that we can easily convert to non-fossil fuels for our energy. You show me how wind and solar are going to replace 50% of the energy this country produces from coal in any short term scenario. Yet the left wants immediate action on a complex problem, because they want to take over the industries of this nation and use climate change as a method of ultimately scaring the American people into the necessity of a take over.

        The other thing that keeps the poor, poor in this country is giving money to people who do not work and expecting nothing in return for the gift of other peoples money. There is a vast difference between those who, because of some disability are unable to work and those who just don’t want to or are encouraged not to. But the left wants to keep people dependent on the government and keep the votes coming, so the government gives them just enough to encourage them to stay at home and stay on the dole. They do all they can to keep them dependent upon good ‘ol Big Brother. When Bill Clinton signed the “Work Fair” law, unemployment dropped dramatically. When people saw that they would have to do some form of labor to receive their welfare checks, they went back to work. In the last three years, disability benefits have increased dramatically. Has the work place suddenly become more dangerous than ever? Maybe people found out that all they had to do was claim they have a backache or a headache and they could stay at home and draw a pretty nice pay check. I know several people personally who are doing that very thing. One of them even jokes about it.

        Do I think ALL corporate executives are honest, decent, God fearing folks? Nope! Nor do I think they ALL are evil. I think many of them have incredible responsibilities and work very long days and often on the weekends as well. I think some of them are greedy and some of them give enormous amounts to charities and scholarship funds.

        You only consider a man who is a laborer as a working man. In literally every single job I had, I saw managers and owners working much harder and longer than I. They had a myriad of problems that I only came to know about as I was shown. Hiring and firing practices and laws, inventory, distribution and delivery problems, schedules, books and record keeping, on time problems. The list went on and on. All I had to do was wash some dishes or mop a floor, etc. They left long after I had gone home and with a number of worries and problems that had to be addressed. But not by me. I just showed up the next day and delivered some flowers and went home at 5pm. But you somehow seem to think that these people don’t work for a living. Except to claw money from their employees. The old divide and conquer tactic. Pit class against class, race against race, gender against gender, young against old. It is the oldest tactic know to mankind. Unfortunately with our leftist run education system, our young people are too indoctrinated to realize they are being duped by leftist propaganda. You may win in the end, Mr. Liu. That’s the pity. People will give up their freedoms for the “good of the state.” One nice thing about it, we will all be miserable together, except perhaps for the elitists at the top of the heap. And trust me, there will be elitists even in your perfect society.

        You sir, I think, belong to the “jealous class.” The people who constantly claim that a person of wealth was spoon fed and done nothing to deserve their wealth. Yet, as I have said before, I never hear a single word from Leftists about actors, TV personalities, Athletes, recording artists, etc. The only conclusion I can come to about that is that the majority of these people, with the possible exception of a lot of Country artists, are Leftists.

        There will never be a society on the face of this planet that will not have a privileged class. EVERY SINGLE society ever created by man has either a few or many who, for whatever reasons are given more privileges than others. From the most dictatorial to the most open and free. There will be in your society too! Do you think there might be complainers in the country of your world view? Jealous people who will want what the privileged have? Of course there will be.

      • buckman21 says:

        Exactly thank you! I understand mr. Liu I’d smart and educated. But his strong ideological standpoint masks it and pulls him away from reality. This orwellian notion that it’s all rich and poor and capitalism never works and too many loses is such bs. Educated does not always equal intelligence.

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        Buckman: You are so right. So many of the college professors I had in college had great book learning, but many had never held a job in their life. The went to grade school, high school, college, grad school and post grad. Got their Phd and began teaching. They are incredibly elitist. Many of them were practically absent of good ‘ol common horse sense. They live in a world of books and their fantasies of what the world should look like. Many of them were Communist or had very definite Communist leanings. I got into so many arguments in class with some of these professors and their spewing of what an evil country America is. Not one of them ever gave a thought as to how this “evil” country provided the means for them to be professors and draw their large salaries and enjoy all the benefits of tenure. Not one of them mentioned how this country where they live allowed them to spew hatred for the very country that provided the means for them to become a professor. No. All you heard was how terrible this country was. How its Founders were all evil people. How we stole this country from the Indians.

        So many of these professors never brought forth to their students, that nearly every country on the planet has at some point in their history, done much the same thing. They invaded other countries, took slaves, murdered masses of people, etc. That was never discussed. It was only as if the United States is the only country on the earth that has this negative past. I’ll tell you what we are though. We are the only country that has tried to make up for our past. We have made millions of dollars in payments to a number of Indian tribes, we passed the Civil Rights Act. We began Affirmative Action and reached a point where quotas were being used in many cases. Many, many white workers were not promoted in order that a person of color would be. Name another country that has done more to make up for past injustices than the United States.

        When it comes to charity and the sharing of wealth what Socialist country gives more than the United States? When there is a major disaster in Indonesia, France or any other place on the planet, who is the first to arrive with food, water, blankets, field hospitals, rescue workers, etc.? The world knows the answer. It is the United States.

        We are not hated for what we do, we are hated for what we have. Just like children of parents who have spoiled them, they have no respect for their parents. So many countries when they need us suddenly become our best friends. Until they no longer need us. What has enabled us to help so many countries in distress? Capitalism! Why did we become the most powerful nation on the planet in just two hundred years? Capitalism. What got us to the moon and back? Capitalism. Why do so many seem to hate us? Jealousy! Why have the Chinese borrowed Capitalism to run their industries instead of using the Socialist model? They found it works and their economy grew enormously. Even in spite of all the evidence around them, idealists like Mr. Liu, just will not accept the fact that Capitalism works. It produces goods and services like no other system in the world. It creates a huge middle class. Even the poorest of our poor, do not come anywhere near the poor in other countries. Survey after survey have shown that our poor have a roof over their head, a car, a TV set, cell phones and many other amenities. Some people would have us believe that they are dying in the streets. If they are, it is their own fault because there are a myriad of government and private charities to help them. Is Capitalism perfect? Hell NO! But it is the best system out there. It provides the most opportunity and creates the most goods and services.

        So, the Mr. Liu’s of this world will go on with what a terrible, rotten country this is and how Capitalism is the scourge of mankind—-But their books just keep telling them that. So they believe it. Proof to the contrary be damned. Instead of fixing those things in the Capitalist system that may be wrong, they want to create a whole new system that is more fair. That is a system that brings everyone down to a more common level. It doesn’t raise everyone up to a higher level. A system where the “people” run everything. You can’t get 10 people to agree on anything, how in the world would we get 300 million people to agree.

        Well, anyway, I’ll stick to good ‘ol American know how and Capitalism for as long as I can. Hopefully, at my age, I will not have to see the world that will come when the Mr. Liu’s of the world get their New World Order. I told my Grandson 10 years ago that he would live in a totalitarian U.S. before he died. I am more convinced than ever that that is true. A man once said that Democracy ends when people find they can vote themselves money from their treasury. A collapsed Democracy always produces a totalitarian government from Democracy’s ashes.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        This is just the kind of utter non-sense I would expect from “Climate change deniers.” Mr. Liu was posting about “democratic socialism” and the pervasive term “social democracy” and some folks on the Right took it as an opportunity to jump in with ignorant comments to somehow defend the system they so ardently believe in. How would they like it if somehow Mr. Liu could take over their National Review or National Review Online?

        This blog started as an internal debate on the left and should remain so. If you feel like defending capitalism then there are millions of sources you can do that in. Why do you need to capture one of the few sources of open debate on the left just so you can repeat all the old charges against socialism in any form?

      • buckman21 says:

        If you don’t like free speech on publicly posted blogs, then do something about it. Such a leftist. No wonder free speech is now guarding against things they don’t like. I’m sure you would just love a free speech zone for the internet… The point of debating is hearing from both sides, not bias from only one.

        Btw, we aren’t deniers. We acknowledge and agree there is climate change. Just not global man made climate change. When the whole planet becomes a metropolis like Beijing, then you can say I told you so. To think that we have the power to control the weather or temperature on a global scale, is arrogant at best and fool hearty at worst.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        You sound like a climate change denier to me. And no one wishes to take away your speech just find one of a trillion other places for it instead of clutter this site which was clearly not intended for you.

      • buckman21 says:

        You can keep saying that if you wish and ignore my point of what is climate change and man’s involvement (or lack thereof).

        You claimed this was a site of debate. It doesn’t matter if it was “intended” for only one side. If you are to see the faults (and there are many) of your utopian dream, then they must be pointed out. I don’t claim capitalism to be perfect, only the best option. Socialism does work in some areas of the world, like Scandinavian countries. But there are reasons for this. Namely population levels. You can get a majority of support for such ideals with a couple millions, rather than 300 million. Half of which are on some form of government aid already.

        Anyways, I see plenty of left leaning (very rude and crude I might add) internet posters on many conservative blog sites. No one is immune to opinions from the other side. At least we are being polite about it, not being almost demanded to leave just because you don’t like to hear reality.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        Classic—always complaining about the left and then trying to limit our speech. Since I do not look at Right-wing blogs I do not know what you are complaining about. I do know a loud reactionary when I see one. You are not polite but simply obnoxious. And your reality is only of your own making and not everyone else’s experience. No one has the time to debate you on history, anthropology, sociology, economics, philosophy, etc. Please do not bother to reply as I am not interested in your opinions.

      • buckman21 says:

        I didn’t say I was limiting anyone. Only that those on the left that do comment on right leaning sites are rude. They have just as much right to post there as I do. You on the other hand think this site is for left eyes and voices only. That is limiting. You only think it’s obnoxious because it’s difficult reading the truth and exposure of your fantasies.

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        Hey Buckman, leave them to their ideology. They have to be able to share with each other to keep their lies about the U.S. And Capitalism alive. The truth annoys the hell out of them. Leave them to their ignorance. They hate this country but won’t go live in a Socialist country. They just want to destroy this one. I can tell you for sure that if my hatred of this country were as strong as most of theirs and saw a Socialist utopia just across the ocean, I’d be on the next boat or plane. This post is also directed to you Ronald. It was Mr. Lou who brought up climate change.

        I have also noticed that about half the posts here are from people not of the left. But here again Leftists are all for free speech, as long as the speech agrees with them. Who started Political Correctness? No conservative I know of. Who assaults Conservative speakers on college campuses? Who is it that wants to limit the size of soft drinks sold? Who is it that wants to dictate what foods should be served and eaten? Who is it that throws a five year old out of school for kissing a girl on the cheek? The list goes on and on. These are just examples of what a Socialist society will look like.

        Is it any wonder that you find such resistance to your ideology, Ronald? In your world we will be robots who think alike, act alike and speak alike or face ostracism or worse. If the left, which has limited power right now, we’re to gain control, the things I mentioned above and many others that I did not list would become a reality. Freedom would be drastically curtailed. I have risked my life for this country and feel I have a right to speak freely on this site or any other. What have you done?

      • Larry Liu says:

        Let me first say that freedom of speech is absolutely essential to me, and part of the joy of writing a blog is to elicit the views of friends and ideological opponents alike. Martin Luther King once said that the greatness of character is revealed not in times of comfort and convenience (debating with people who are on your side), but in times of conflict and controversy (debating with your opponents). How can I craft good arguments for my position if nobody puts them into question?

        Your basic statement is that CEO’s and managers have worked hard for their money, and that it is not right to elevate the working man above that of the managers that direct him, and have much more responsibility for success and failure of the company than the average 9 to 5. I should say that I would never venture to say that a modern economy can live without CEOs or managers. We live in a complex economic and political system, and we, therefore, need some leaders at the very top that can make this society work. In order to attract capable people to the important leadership positions, they need to be paid more than your average street cleaner or food service worker. But notice how I am arguing in principles, and our views are not very far apart here.

        Now let us speak in numbers. In the 1970s, the average CEO made 30 times of what their workers earned. Today it is more than 300 times. The richest one per cent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90%, and earns 58% of all new income since 2008. Now, people like you will take the basic theorem which I outlined in the previous paragraph and extend it to fit the outcome of the current situation. In other words, if the CEOs today are a lot richer today, it must mean that they have worked ten times harder than the average worker. That is, indeed, one argument made by a world-renowned economics professor, former advisor to the Bush administration, and textbook writer of Introductory economics- one of these self-absorbed and naive Ivory tower college professors that you have so dearly criticized! His name is Greg Mankiw, and you can search his article “Defending the One Percent”.

        Let me just reply that I think Mankiw’s views are complete bullshit, for lack of a better word. Within the last 40 years, CEO work might have become more stressful, but so has the work of most workers, because of labor deregulation, fewer unions, less protection for most workers. Many workers are increasingly feeling this injustice of putting in so many hours, while they are stuck at minimum wage jobs, while their managers are stuffing their pockets with more of their hard-earned income. Your counter-argument is that my argument is filled with jealousy of what the rich have accomplished, but jealousy assumes that they deserve the wealth, and I have clearly torpedoed the notion of merit for the rich. If their wealth is not merit, then clawing it back for society via high taxes on the rich is not an act of ‘jealousy’ but of restoring ‘justice’.

        When I read your story of the son of working class parents making it into the middle class, I felt even more disturbed by your defense of the rich. You accuse me of divide and conquer, but it is precisely the fact that when the rich have convinced working and middle class people that the rich have deserved their wealth, that their divide and conquer strategy has succeeded. Hard working middle class people buy into the narrative that the current distribution of income is fair, which in turn perpetuates the system of entrenched and growing inequality, because without middle class protest, there won’t be a change of policy. (The rise of Bernie Sanders today tells me otherwise, and if he wins the elections, it tells me that people want to see real change.)

        But let me assume for one moment that you are right, and that income inequality is an intrinsic part of a capitalist economy to create allocative efficiency. We then need to ask whether inequality proliferates economic growth. We know that we need some inequality to provide the incentives for the creation of new products. This is the Schumpeter story of capitalist innovation, and I hereby accept such argument. But we also know that too much inequality restricts economic growth. That is the simple insight which the right-wing usually always ignores. People like you argue that inequality in general will stimulate growth, when in fact this is not true. More inequality restricts the buying power of the masses, which diminishes growth. Even a rich guy does not buy millions of Ferraris, but middle class people as a whole do buy millions of Fords. Secondly, there is a problem with political legitimacy. Let’s face it: the people who argue that too much inequality is no problem for us are in the minority. If you take a survey of Americans and ask them to draw an ideal income and wealth distribution picture, they would draw Scandinavia and not the United States distribution. Once people see there is too much inequality, it will be a drag on incentives. Why should the average Joe work hard if the rich skim off from the top?

        I don’t need such arguments to be convinced about the badness of extreme wealth inequality, because I think solidarity and community are high intrinsic values in themselves, but for the political right that does not believe in such values, I have to use utilitarian arguments. Basically, even if you accept inequality it makes the situation worse.

        Again, I don’t see any point in debating climate change. We have rising sea levels, ocean acidification, species disappearance, one degree celsius warming over the last 100 years, and many more to come, more chaotic weather events, climate refugees etc. Debating climate science is a waste of time, and delays needed political intervention. Fortunately, neither of us are in direct positions of power, but for humanity’s sake we gotta do something.

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        Mr. Liu. Thank you again for your reply. If a Republican becomes president in the next election and the House and Senate remain the same, I think you will see a boom in this economy that will shock you. What is holding our economy down, is not that the wealthy are earning more money, it is that business has been way over regulated. It has been over taxed. Something that is hard to take out of the equation is climate change. So many business regulations involve the concept of climate change. It is hard not to discuss the economy and leave climate change out.

        We do not exploit our own natural resources on public lands. We have the largest supply of natural gas and coal in the world. We have tremendous oil reserves in and out of the ground. All of these things are being repressed as a result of the climate change “theory.” They would be a boon to our economy. But we are severely limited in our ability to use them or sell them. This is why it is difficult to talk about our economy and leave climate change out like it is having no effect on our economy at all.

        I will only say this about climate change and then you can do whatever you like about it. Weather reports based on computer models are wrong probably more than they are right. I know here in Oregon where I live, forecasters are wrong much more than they are right. We cannot predict the weather accurately in many, many cases a day a head and certainly not a week or more. One might as well be throwing darts at a forecast dart board. How, pray tell me, can these same folks predict what our weather and climate are going to be 100 years from now? It makes no sense. So many notable scientists say that our climate is a cyclical process. We have periods of warming and cooling and it has been since the beginning of time. I watched a program on one of the science channels (Discovery, A&E, Nat’l Geo) I don’t remember which it was, where core samples going back some 3 million years were taken and there was more Co2 in the atmosphere then than there is now. There certainly was no industry in those days. No cars, trucks, buses, etc. O.K., I know that Leftists don’t want to discuss the subject so I’ll let it go. But scientists have been wrong over and over again throughout history, to think they are 100% right now, is naïve as far as I’m concerned.

        Anyway, Mr. Liu, Is there a stock market in your ideal government? I just want to understand how your system would work. If there is a stock market, is there any one responsible to the shareholders? Can someone be removed from their position if they are not making a profit for the shareholders? How do the “people” in these companies manage the companies? Do they vote on contracts, production quotas? Who sits in on sales meetings, research and development meetings, etc.? Do they vote on who should be hired and fired? I am trying to understand how the “people” run the company that is different from a company in a Capitalist system. Or is it that the only difference is the employees are paid more?

        I hope you understand that I am not trying to be facetious, I am trying to understand what your government would look like. Is there a private sector? If so, what kinds of controls does the government have over business? (I am speaking of all business, whether large or small). Is the only difference between your idea of Socialism and Capitalism that there is just a better spread of the wealth or are there other differences? What controls would your government have over individuals? Would prostitution, gambling, drug use all be legal? Would tobacco be legal? Would there be restrictions on the food that could be purchased? (ie: saturated fats, foods containing sugar, etc.) Would gun ownership be legal? If so what kinds of restrictions would be placed on the kinds of guns one could own? What would the make up of your government be? A president? A Congress? A Senate? Some form of parliamentary system as in Britain? What would your educational system look like.

        I know I am asking so many questions, Mr. Liu, but I hope you can see that many, if not most Americans would want answers to these kinds of questions before ever considering a entirely new form of government. There are many more questions I have, but I know I have presented so many that it would probably be necessary for you to write a book to answer them. But every single question I have asked you, is very important to me. I simply could not or would not accept a change in our Capitalist system until I had very specific answers to everyone of these questions and others that I have not asked.

        It seems to me that people are buying into whatever form of Socialism on the basis that it would be more fair. But that really doesn’t explain anything. It sounds wonderful, but I want to know specifically how it would work and who would run it, other than “the people.” People run a Capitalist system.

        A few more questions and I’ll set you free to ponder all of this. Do you believe that a Bureaucrat or a Politician is more honest and trustworthy than a businessman? If power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely, why should we fear the businessman more than the Politician or Bureaucrat? Do you believe that any form of bureaucracy, whether a business or government tends to want to grow ever larger and garner more power?

        Now that I have worn you out, I would appreciate your answering these questions even if you only were to take one or two at a time and over a period of time. The reason I am asking all of this of you is that I truly want to see whether your ideal system would be superior in every way to what I have enjoyed for the past 77 years of life here in the United States.

        I have told you that I would like to see things in our system fixed. I don’t by any means, believe it to be perfect. I would like to see a more moral, just and ethical society. I would like to see the wealthy, including movie stars, entertainers and athletes all take less, so that the average joe could afford to go to a game or buy an album or have more in their pocket. I quit practicing law because what I saw over and over again in both the criminal justice and civil system was not justice and not even really a pursuit of justice. It really boiled down to who could play the game the best or to what law school you went, or how much you spent on the judges daughter’s wedding. It is one of the systems in our system that drastically needs overhauling. But I have a natural fear of government. Ours has grown way too big so that programs are instituted but no follow up to see whether it is working or not. The waste is absolutely astronomical. I could tell you story after story of even in the small portion of government in which I was involved, the waste was extreme. I think welfare without work leads to a subclass of folks dependent upon government for their subsistence. If a person is physically and mentally able to work, they should have to do at least some labor in order to receive money from “the working class.” In my opinion, it is more damaging to the individual to award them money for doing nothing than to give them a sense of having “earned” what they may receive.

        I believe that the vast majority of government should be at the city, country and state levels rather than a huge federal government, where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing. Big powerful government worries me more than does Microsoft, Apple or IBM. A government can take my freedom, my possessions and my life. Microsoft can’t. We have bureaucrats and politicians making rules and regulations about business that they know nothing about. Some 80% of our politicians are attorneys. That is something else that needs to be fixed!

        Thanks, Mr. Liu for the courtesy of your replies! If this is all too much, I understand. I have put an awfully lot of “stuff” forward. But I want you to understand that I am a person of strong moral and ethical values. I believe in hard work and that hard work should be rewarded. I believe that a man should be able to go as high and far as his talents, abilities, perseverance and dedication take him. But I expect him to be a moral and ethical person at the same time. I expect him to be fair and honest in all of his dealings with others. I expect him to give to charity as I do. The more I make, the more I give to charity. I just don’t want government stifling him or discouraging him from striving to raise himself up. I really don’t like the idea of government telling someone how much money they can make. I am a strong believer in individual freedom but not freedom from responsibility.

        I hope all of this helps you to realize that as a Conservative, I am not an evil person all out for himself nor caring for the welfare of others. I think the difference between Liberals and Conservatives is not in the things they want in society, but in the means used to achieve those ideals. I just believe that Capitalism can be fixed and can achieve great things as it has in our history.

        I just see Liberalism (Socialism and its several forms) seeking a better society by placing more controls over individuals and the means of production and in effect forcing the individual to go along with the herd. I think Political Correctness is a good example of Liberal thinking and why Liberalism worries me. We see Conservatives being chased off of college campuses because they feel differently about how society or some of its institutions should be run. We see Liberal government officials trying to control the size of a soft drink a person can buy, or what kinds of foods can be bought or sold, because some elitist feels he/she knows what is best for the masses.

        We see children not being allowed to play dodge ball and other games, outcome based education, patriotism being discouraged, religion being repressed, bringing people down to the lowest common denominator instead of raising people up, children being thrown out of school for chewing a piece of bread into the shape of a gun, the list goes on and on.

        Is it any wonder that people fear the kind of government that would be brought about if the Liberals (Socialists) were to take over the government? It is a conformed society that scares the hell out of me. We all must think and act alike, otherwise we are to be made outcasts and shunned. Some Bureaucrat will decide what is best based upon his/her individual tastes or ideology. These things are not imagined by me, they occur every day. Liberals brought about a society of fear. We must control any activity where there is absolutely any risk of an injury or illness. We put warning labels on irons saying, “Warning, this iron may get hot, do not touch.” Attorneys advertising on a daily basis, “has Zytron given you warts, headaches or increased the size of your belly button, you may be entitled to compensation.” It is a wonder that any drug manufacturer would risk making any drug for fear that one in 20 million users might have a wart from using the product? But when they are driven out of business, do we go back to chewing leaves and eating bark off of trees? Have they not produced miracle cures and extended the lives of Americans? Dow chemical was bankrupted! Billions of dollars were paid out in jury awards and fines for breast implant materials that supposedly caused cancer. Ten years after they went bankrupt. Oh gee we were wrong. That stuff didn’t cause cancer. Oh well. So hundreds of people lost their jobs and an entire industry closed down. Some scientists you seem to trust on climate change, found that the material used in the breast implants caused cancer, but it was later PROVED that the material did not cause cancer. One of your contributors was mad because there were people who disagreed with his ideology posting here. These are the things that worry me so much about a Leftist system. The conformity and some bureaucrat telling people what they can eat, drink, or say. It smacks of Orwell’s “1984.” Thanks again, Mr. Liu for putting up with me.

  12. Danilo says:

    Brilliant text, Mr. Liu. I agree with you that Democratic Socialism is better than Social Democracy because we need an entirely new socioeconomic (and ethic) structure; something that Social Democracy does not provide. In its present stage – some people call it Inverted Totalitarianism – Capitalism has reached such a predatory level that it is destroying not only poor people’s lives through inequality, unemployment, underemployment, etc., but the whole biosphere. Today I read on the media that for the first time 1% richest are owning 50% of the world’s wealth, while the 50% poorest have only 1% of the world’s wealth to share between them. Such a situation is unsustainable. The system will eventually collapse. And I think it will happen relatively soon.

    • Ronald Sims says:

      Agree with you 100% Especially agree we need a whole new sociatal system. In my view capitalism is so disgustingly sick–just look at the recent television event on the so-called “Blood Lions” in Africa. If the rulers do not care about innocent endangered animals then can we expect them to care about the poor or working people? I think not!

  13. Bob Armstrong says:

    Please, I am not trying to facetious, I truly want to understand. You folks claim that there is a Socialist utopia just across the ocean from us. I am speaking of Scandinavia. Why is it that you don’t move there? You obviously hate this country and all that it stands for, why in the world would you want to stay here? I truly want to know the answer. I can tell you for sure, that I would sell all I own and move if I were in a country that I hated and that was so disgustingly sick. It is truly a mystery to me. Why put up with all this greed and avarice? Having to live among the sick and dying in the streets in this evil Capitalistic system? GEEZ!

    • Ronald Sims says:

      One important comment and I’ll leave this discussion to you and Mr Liu to argue.

      Mr Liu pointed to the work of economist Greg Mankiw. Some years ago, I read his Economics textbook for an Economics 100 course. He urged that because Japan could more efficiantly produce automobiles, then Americans should abandon making automobiles. A year later, my step-daughter was dating a young man who would certainly share most of your beliefes. It so happens that his parents had supported him on their income working for General Motors in Indiana and were UAW members. When I mentioned what Mankiw has to say about the American auto industry, he had no reply.

      This is the utterly insane part of the “free-market” ideology taken to its absolute extreme. If we followed Mankiw’s advice, there would be no Auto jobs or steel jobs and those middle-class jobs you want would not exist. And who with the wages of an Indian or average Chinese could sustain a middle-class life-style or even afford one of those Japanese cars? Despite all the talk of great wealth in China these days, most Chinese still live very far below our standards and do not have cars. I suppose the Japanese would be very well-off selling to a much smaller market (the very opposite of Mankiw’s intention) but the rest of the world would resemble India.

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        Ronald: I appreciate your reply, but you did not answer my question. Why do you want to live in a country whose system you hate? Truly, if Scandinavia is a Socialist utopia, why do you not go there to live. I sincerely am asking this question. I am not saying, “Get the hell out” as some would say. I am trying to understand why there are so many people like you who hate this country, who find it disgusting, want to live here. I tell you honestly and sincerely, if I felt as you do, I would have left long ago.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        This is my country! I can only understand a little German and no Swedish or Finnish or Danish. I do think we can do better than what we have now. And do you know how difficult immigrating in Europe is? And I will not be told I hate America or shut up. This is why I told you before I do not consider you polite. You always wish to engage in personal attacks–must be a habit for lawyers.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        Oh, just one more thing. I never said Scandinavia is a socialist utopia. Those are your words–not mine. There are no utopias–only nations with different political and social systems.

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        Wow: Ronald, Where is the personal attack? You immediately jump on the defensive and assume that I am telling you to shut up or leave. I have said no such thing. I truly wanted to know why someone who seems to hate this system so much, wants to stay part of it. You have said that this Capitalistic system is disgusting. By your past posts, you are certainly not a lover of your country. I was and am being sincere by asking why someone who seemingly hates this country wants to stay. I want to know why someone feels like they want to stay when there are other alternatives available. I actually would like someone like you to stay and help change our own system, rather than to bring our system down. You cannot deny that this has been a great country. The most charitable, among the very most free, that has produced more goods and services, brought more technology and medical breakthroughs and scientific breakthroughs than any other.

        You point out that these other countries have very difficult immigration policies. I agree. It is one very good reason they don’t have the problems we do. As to the language barrier, once you live in a country for any time, the language is picked up pretty quickly.

        My son-in-law is from New Zealand. Try moving there if you cannot prove that you are absolutely not able to show that you can and will support yourself. We let people just walk across our border and immediately are provided many services from the taxpayer.

        Have you read any of my posts where I felt this country was anything close to perfect? I don’t think so. If you read some of my posts to Mr. Liu, you know there are many things I would change in this country if I could. But I still love my country. It has done much for me and everyone around me that I know. We have thousands of suburbs in every state and county in this nation. These suburbs consist of millions of middle class folks who live in homes, drive decent cars and have many, many amenities. It is these suburbs from which come the majority of our college students. These suburbs are also comprised of people making decent incomes that are provided by businesses and corporations.

        It is a different country and system than some others, but my guess is there are problems in all the various governmental systems. We do have some segments of Socialism in this country. The military, police, fire, highway systems, FDA, etc. And I agree with these “Socialized” systems. I just don’t want a huge government that controls too much of our lives and that is so big, it doesn’t even know how many bureaus, or departments it has. Where in essence, the right hand doesn’t know what the left is doing. It is too wieldy and inefficient. I would like a much smaller centralized government and more power to cities, counties and states.

        Anyway, Ronald. Don’t take things so personally. My only difference with you is that I love my country very much and have been willing to and have put my life on the line for it. Is it everything I want or wish it could be? Absolutely not. But I try to do those things I can to change it.

        Oh, and I agree with you about attorneys. I quit practicing law after seven years because I could not stand a system that was supposed to be about justice but clearly isn’t. I wrote a letter to the California Bar Association enclosing my license and told them when they cleaned up the profession I might think about rejoining. I have been getting dues notices since 1985 and have not as yet sent them one dollar. I now owe them thousands of dollars in past due dues!

        In 33 years of a law enforcement career, I received one personnel complaint. It was for striking an armed robber in the head with the butt of my gun. I had every legal right to shoot him, but I didn’t. The complaint was dismissed.

        I’ll close this out Ronald, with this thought. I think that most of the governmental systems would probably work pretty well if man was more moral, ethical and honest and believed in a power greater than themselves. My best wishes to you. Bob

      • Ronald Sims says:

        It is not the nation that is the problem but a corrupt capitalist system that I doubt even Theodore Roosevelt would like. And I do not share your enthusiasam for small government. Who is to say it is any less corrupt or compassionate when it all comes down to the state or counties? Many of our federal programs are FEDERAL because the state and local governments did NOTHING.

        Some years ago they turned what had been a federal program for children’s healthcare over to the states and the states took the federal dollars and used it for other things. This is why strong federal guidelines have to be in place.

      • Bob Armstrong says:

        I will never understand how some people trust the government so much but Corporations are evil. Sorry, we will never agree that a huge government that spends money like there is no end to it, is better than a smaller government whose excesses can be more easily identified. I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one Ronald.

      • Ronald Sims says:

        My own view is not that far off from Republican President Teddy Roosevelt, who by the way hated, yes hated Thomas Jefferson.

  14. asher27 says:

    of course bob works in law enforcement. what a shock, someone who supports inverted totalitarianism/corporate fascism disguised as “capitalism” was in charge of enforcing it!

    • buckman21 says:

      With all your rants, sounds like my explanation of those that hate America and the way it is running as jealous, seems spot on. And yes I stand by my 47% don’t pay taxes (though in hindsight I should have been more thorough in explaining income taxes and getting all that money back at the end of the year). Welfare isn’t taxed, wages are.

      Tell me asher. What do you desire? A wage cap? A cap on what is acceptable in terms of wealth and property? Are we not allowed to invest anymore? Are we not allowed to rent our property to others?

      If you confiscated the entire salaries of all the officers of every corporation in the country and redistributed the proceeds “fairly” to every employee of those corporations, each of those employees would get a raise of about 1 percent. As ridiculous as executive salaries have gotten, the number of people being paid them, as a percentage of the population, is close to trivial.

      Take Oracle Corporation. Its CEO, Larry Ellison gets paid $78 million per year. Oracle has 122 thousand employees. If you divided Ellison’s annual salary equally among all 122 thousand employees, each would get a whole $639 per year raise. That’s an additional 32 cents per hour, a 1.5 percent pay raise.

      But let’s play with the numbers some more. The average annual wage in the US is about $44 thousand. Including income taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, payroll taxes, etc, the average American pays about 13 thousand dollars per year, about 30 percent, in taxes to governments. If you want more money to go to “the average hard working American,” corporations and CEOs are very much the wrong target. If you want a real pay raise, the right target is government taxation. Since most of the wealthy do not get most of their wealth from income, but investments, real estate, stocks, etc. then you are really not going to get your money that you THINK you deserve even if you took 99% of their salaries away with taxes.

    • Bob Armstrong says:

      Hey Asher. I no longer work in law enforcement, I retired. So your thought is that burglary, petty theft, armed robbery, rape, extortion, arson, assault and battery, public fighting, kidnapping, drunk driving, lost children, family disturbances, etc. etc. are all crimes or incidents that corporations have put into effect and they then hire the police to enforce or handle these situations is that your brilliant deduction? No, my job was to protect people and their property including folks just like you. I am damn proud of my service both in the military and law enforcement. I saved several lives and arrested and took off the streets some pretty mean a–h—s! I didn’t just sit back and second guess and BS like some folks. The message I leave you is: Don’t call me some lackey for corporations or loving and wanting some totalitarian government. On the contrary, my idea of a great government is one that has the least amount of power. If our society were more moral, honest and ethical, it would reflect itself in all our people.

      Hey Asher: What do you think of George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, etc. Making huge sums for a single movie? How about these RAP stars, Hollywood producers, Directors, Recording artists? How about professional athletes? Why are they not evil for making the huge sums they make? I never hear of anyone on the Left complain about these folks who really don’t hire many at all except maybe a couple of body guards on a sporadic basis, or perhaps a maid (who may be one of those illegals we hear about). How about Oprah and some of the TV personalities? Just asking.

  15. Pingback: Redefining the Political Spectrum – Luke Lindsley

  16. I’m surprised you didn’t mention the Scandinavian countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark & Iceland) as the role-model for Social Democracy; where it’s been ruling and working for more than half a century. Coming from Finland, most of our presidents have come from one of our biggest political parties, the Social Democratic Party, and has made the amazingly successful welfare system to what it is today.

    • Ronald Sims says:

      Frankly, I seriously doubt we could in America emulate the Nordic countries because our working class, Marx’s “motive force of history,” is so very backward and we have no mass social democratic party. Even the Canadian New Democrats only came in a distant third in the October national election and the party has existed in Canada for many decades and is responsible for Universal healthcare in Canada. Sanders is competing for US President in a party that is wholly owned by Wall Street. I do not see him winning.

      But anyway, appreciate your comments on the Scandinavian nations, for whom most of us have admired.

  17. Pingback: Why Bernie Sanders Isn’t a Democratic Socialist | Notes from a Boy @ The Window

  18. Pingback: Explaining Social Democracy Versus Democratic Socialism | Barbados Underground

  19. Carl says:

    The Democratic Socialism is what got America into this mess. Massive taxation and regulation scared all our business to countries lightning up on Socialism. Free markets, freedom and hard work is what makes great societies. The welfare state is what put the first hole in the Titanic, (figuratively speaking). Allowing ppl a living for nothing just starts a chain reaction. Capitalism is the best system however it’s not perfect. Allowing business to operate while labor has a place at the table is the best system we could have. Unions did well but only got greedy and while stealing from the membership for no return investment has proven once again that greed exist no matter what.

    • Larry Liu says:

      High taxes and regulation is what naturally happens in advanced capitalist economies. The contradiction is that we need a big state to continue servicing the needs of companies, while the big state can also undermine the profits of businesses. However, the lack of profit cannot be the problem in today’s economy, because many big companies are more profitable than ever, and the Panama paper leak shows that there is a lot of untaxed overseas wealth. The lack of economic growth results from a slowdown in technology and productivity growth and the lack of aggregate demand (i.e. working people not getting sufficient wages to finance more consumption other than by accumulating debt) which results from more of the national wealth being concentrated in the hands of the wealthy few. We are told that Walmart is a great job creator, but the Panama leaks show that they were hiding 76 billion dollars in overseas accounts from their more than a million employees who are continuing to toil away at starvation wages. No unions in sight here. What the free market crowd does not recognize is the tendency of contemporary capitalism toward the concentration of capital in the hands of the few, the monopolization of big business, the weakening of labor rights (Uberization of work), the stagnation of the economy, the financialization and growth of asset bubbles stemming from a lack of regulation, low interest rate central bank policy (and the functional need to keep the growth engine going with debt), and the self-undermining effects of a growth-driven economy given climate change and our impending ecological catastrophe.

    • Ronald Sims says:

      Just what planet are you living on????

  20. Kirk Fowler says:

    Would it be a fair assessment to say Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign is about restoring the American social democracy? I am referring to the period between late 1930s and the 1970s when the United States economy was experiencing high growth, relatively steady wage increases and strong working-class bargaining power while maintaining suitable corporate profit. I may be disillusioned but I believe this period to be the height of quality nearly free public education, substantial upward mobility, wide stable healthcare coverage and pensions for the working class,

    In contrast, would it be fair to view the Carter/Reagan years as the ushering in of the post social democracy period of slowing to negative growth and the decimation of working-class bargaining power and rapid growth of concentrated capital and power? I view this period as one of dwindling quality and rising costs of public education, little upward mobility, volatile healthcare coverage, little to no job stability, stagnate wages and the disappearing promise of pensions. Not to mention skyrocketing housing costs which help produce considerable working-class wealth of the previous generation.

    If I am assessing these periods correctly, would it be fair to identify Trump’s main talking points of one-sided trade policy, the exportation of production and importation of exploitable labor (legal and illegal) as the primary catalysts for the changes?

    If we agree America was at its greatest as a social democracy and the working-class has lost its equilibrium bargaining power, then wouldn’t renegotiating trade and restricting the exportation and importation of exploitable labor be the first step to democratic socialism? I would add the reinstatement of the Homestead Act as a necessary component to democratic socialism since the hundreds of millions of acres of federally owned property and resource rights are reserved almost exclusively for the use of the capitalists who control policy. The Land Ordinances of 1785 and 1787 as well as the Homestead Acts may be the ultimate example of social democracy.

    Bernie Sanders seems to use democratic socialism and social democracy interchangeably but in reality he seems to be speaking of authoritarian socialism where the capitalists retain control over policy thereby shifting the cost onto the working-class while maintaining a low growth, concentrated capital economy where exportable and importable exploitable labor remains a constant barrier to working-class bargaining power. To me, this produces simply produces a non-violent revolution in favor of the capitalists under the guise of democracy.

    If democratic socialism invokes a fundamental change in the economy and the ultimate goal is social democracy, then the first step in democratic socialism would be to force a state of equilibrium. You cannot ever create a state of equilibrium if the capitalists control policy. You can only create equilibrium if you can create high growth and control access to exploitable labor.

    Certainly, climate change offers opportunity for growth but it does not create equilibrium if the capitalists retain control of policy and property as well as access to exploitable labor. Think transcontinental railroad.

    It seems to me democratic socialism is simply a catalyst to restoring social democracy but it requires the working class to gain control of growth (production and trade), labor (immigration and outsourcing), and property rights.


    • Larry Liu says:

      My question to you is why you would think that Donald Trump will get us there? His ideas have nothing to do with restoring the working class to power, but with scoring high with the voters without having any investment policy to benefit the working class. I think that open trade has harmed segments of the working class, but creating the tariff walls will not save many more jobs. You are right to characterize Sanders policy as social democratic, which is about benefiting both the capitalist and the working class, but in the current moment his ideas are the most likely to have good outcomes among all the candidates. The weakness of social democracy is that you can at most buy yourself some more time before the capitalist eats up the gains of the workers because of lower profitability, which the capitalist uses as excuse to punish the workers with lower wages. But who is the vanguard to create the world socialist revolution that we all desire?

  21. Dr. Bryan k Hicoman says:

    Whole article is very interesting in fact it was so interesting. I kept on falling asleep while I was reading it. It it was full of hyperbole and conjecture. Now I can go to sleep.

  22. Bill Kowalczyk says:

    This well written essay is followed by a McDonalds commercial. Clearly the prospects for socialist ideology has challenges in our way. I’m very excited to have read this clear synopsis and appreciate your biography. Sign me up, you have a place to stay when you visit Portland, OR.

  23. Pingback: On the noncommutativity of Social[ist] & Democra[t|cy] | Eternal Query

  24. Hal says:

    We have the ideals of a good system, but we have lost control over individual greed. Short term profit taking over investing in the long-term health of corporations, individuals, society, and the earth cannot succeed in the long term. We have used up the majority of our natural resources in a mad dash for continual growth and profit, but what we will do when they are gone? One function of government is to regulate against and constrain individual greed. Reasonable levels of reward for leadership, entrepreneurship, management, and hard work are fine. Absurd concentrations of wealth that are not used to help our society function at levels that maintain and improve infrastructure, education, health care, and the environment are not. Trickle-down economics has never worked. Corporations are not persons, and should not be writing our legislation a la ALEC. Persons co-opted by industry and inimicable to the long-term wellbeing of us all should not be in legislative positions. These do not seem to me to be leftist ideas. I am ex-military, with training in electronics, computer science, and business. Our levels of incarceration, military adventuring, and the impoverishment of children and the elderly are obscene. We have lost our values as a society, as witnessed by our glorification of athletic and entertainment figures, and our denigration of teachers, librarians, scientists, and skilled workers. If these sorts of ideas are to be labeled as socialism, then I’m all for it. Caring for others, and especially for those less fortunate, does not equate to socialism, communism or anti-Americanism. This country stands for freedom, equality, opportunity, and justice, but these are the very things that have become in such short supply. Irrational hatred and denial of reality are rampant. Somehow we have got to get back to learning and living our ideals as Americans. However, this will take much more awareness and involvement of all of us as citizens, and I despair.

    • buckman21 says:

      If all the thing you listed were to be done by individuals and private, secular, and religious organizations and not government regulation and intervention, then I agree. Except the military and incarceration parts. I’m much more hawkish when it comes to that.

  25. Rob Whitehead says:

    Fascinating argument for democratic socialism, but it appears to ignore the weakest link which is democracy itself.

    A successful democracy presupposes an educated electorate. We already know that the electorate is barely capable of electing good politicians and often does not due to the ease of manipulating the poorly educated and praying on their fears and bias. So minimizing their management of a complex economic system by an electorate unqualified to make technical decisions should be the goal, thus negating the possibility for a truly democratic socialist approach to the economic system. Capable but unbiased experts (or experts whose bias is known but also compensated for to balance out their bias) will make much better decisions for a society than the malleable masses. Leave the masses to make the YAY or NAY votes, but not to make the technical decisions beyond their abilities.

    This makes inherently more sense than expecting voters to essentially successfully run industries and businesses they understand little to nothing about. Not unlike a Council Manager form of municipal government.


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