Monday, January 02, 2006

Democratic Socialism – With a Sprinkle of Anarchism

How can we create a functional social democratic government that also leans heavily toward anarchism? It’s not easy to even think about such a party arising in the US today, but I think that if the ideas begin to be emanated from articulate and well-educated activists then in our relatively near future we could have the possibility of seeing this form of government. I believe that democratic socialism is the only humane form of government possible in this technologically driven world. First I should express a little of what I think social democratic anarchism would entail.

Minimal government influence in personal life is a necessity for true freedom (and is what makes the system anarchistic in nature), so basically the government would only have a policing and military presence, as well as being in charge of the redistribution of wealth. However, documents such as the Patriot Act would not be tolerated, nor would any “war on drugs”. People would still be allowed to own their property; just because socialism is involved does not mean it is communism.

Employees would democratically control all business. This idea is similar to the massive growth of cooperatives in Venezuela right now that is being supported by Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Movement. This is absolutely necessary for the equal rights of workers and would alleviate the strongly polarized class division seen in many capitalist societies.

Business profit as well as individual profit needs to be heavily taxed and on a linear scale so that money can be redistributed back to companies to take care of social issues, such as education and healthcare, and domestic infrastructure issues, such housing and energy. Ideally, government would not need to be involved with taxation because class division between rich and poor would not be present and businesses, democratically run, would want to take care of these issues themselves. I do not believe, however, that businesses, even if they are run by the common people, can be trusted to take care of the less fortunate people that for whatever reason are incapable of participating in the societies growth. A skeptic of this ideal might say that people would become apathetic towards their work, or that they wouldn’t even bother working at all because all of their hard work would be taken away by taxation and there would be no reward. This is intrinsically not true, however, because if a business is making a lot of money from whatever it is producing then the employee would be making a lot more money also, albeit also getting taxed more but not so much more that profit for the business would not be seen on the individual level. Also, there is a lot to be said for the reward of successfully completing a task like finishing a project, making a scientific discovery, surgically saving another life, etc. then that person will feel as if they have contributed to the world and with that thought will be gratified by their success.

Of course government would be decentralized, i.e. there would be no president, but there would be committees, voted for by the people – not an electorate college – that would democratically help to set up institutions that were capable of protecting the rights of the people, providing military protection for the people, and redistributing the wealth to business and individuals. Because of the redistribution of wealth the country could be seen as a social welfare state similar to Sweden, with the exception of lack of government involvement in business.

This form of governance (or mostly a lack there of) would, I think, provide people the most freedom that is possible in the world that we live in today and therefore provide people with the highest standard of living.

1 comment:

Katarzyna said...

Interesting idea this democratic socialism Andrew. Sweden and also Denmark are countries that, you right, in a way succeeded. I do not think that all the countries and societies should fallow.In big part achieveing positive reults by mentioned states is becouse of history background, and cultural values of the nation.

Your writing on this subject sounds like utopia which of course is natural for any political/social ideas, but in the real word I wouldn't be so found of decentralization of power (to a high degree).

I'm a little bit confuse with taxation idea (parag. 4) and division of class. I will hold my comment on those.