Polls are showing that we Democrats are in a good, strong position going into the midterms. There are some problem areas, but we’re getting them worked out. By all indicators, we’re on track to retake at least the House of Representatives, something the nation’s future depends on.
In fact, it has become increasingly clear that the future of the nation depends largely on the future of the Democratic Party, since only Democrats seem to care about it. It has become critical for us to ask some questions about ourselves and where we’re going, after the midterms and beyond.
What is the nature of Democratic ideology? What does it mean to be a Democrat? This is something many of us have thought about a lot, especially since 2016. It has changed quite a bit over the years. Experience and study both have taught us to be wary of any ideology that requires a true believer. Thus, although it does not exist as a crystalline and brittle dogma, incapable of change, it does still have a form. And although it is profoundly sickening to dignify Trump’s raving with a well-thought out response,
That form is not called socialism. It has nothing to do with socialism. And it will never have anything to do with socialism, regardless of the slanders of Trump aimed at us that we’re all radicals. We are not.
The time-honored policies we’ve been using since Franklin Roosevelt, like that of nearly everyone in the western world, belong rightly to the tradition of Social Democracy. That is profoundly different from being a socialist, which even the most reputable and intelligent of leftist publications, Jacobin Magazine, is in total agreement with us on this matter; one headline of theirs we came across while researching this read simply, Democratic Socialism Isn’t Social Democracy.
The difference is simple. We want to retain our free market economy, and not hand it all over to bureaucrats. We also wish to see it tempered of its harshness by a social net of citizen relief.
That’s not what everyone wants, and I get that, although it’s hard to accept, especially now, when the stakes are so high. Democratic ideology means having respect for others, which means a certain amount of agreeing to disagree. We cannot try to force it! People must come around on their own. We’ve got to use reason, not ugliness. We don’t want to hurt anyone over the way they think, just the opposite. We need their help to do our share to ensure that our government is healthy and to be sure we remain realistic about its prospects.
Everybody’s got a set of ideologies these days, one sometimes feels, and many are meant to deliberately waylay and mislead. Many seem artificial. Others seem insensitive, and still others downright stupid. While utopian thinkers are thinking about their utopia, the world outside is going right along as it always has, regardless of anyone’s thoughts or ideas. Current events do not suggest it’s the right time to retreat into philosophy and get lost in obscurity.
We need to get out there and fight.
Revolutionary-minded people have their talking points in order. They will not take long in getting around to Robert Owen or the Paris Commune or what have you as examples that things might be otherwise because a few people wanted them to be; a few words about the former seem in order here. In 1825, Owen bought the town of New Harmony, Indiana and established a utopian colony there-or tried to.
New Harmony prospered at first. But it wasn’t long before the residents fell to quarreling about politics and religion. By 1828, it had failed. Sound familiar? If they’d have been short on resources it would have gone the way of the Donner Party. This why Sir Thomas More chose the word Utopia to describe his 1516 vision of a perfect society.
The word “utopia” is the Greek word for “nowhere”.
Socialists do not understand the nature of capitalism. They believe it to be a system of government. It is not. Capitalism is an entity! It is the raw, naked force, the self-governing force, of the free market itself. Economist Adam Smith called it the Invisible Hand, and observed the patterns it arranges society into.
Those patterns are the trouble with socialism, which asserts itself along unrealistic principles that are inconsistent with human behavior, which is not going to change overnight. Humans are heavily pattern-based creatures. We do the same things in every generation. Bees don’t just wake up one day and start building pyramid shaped hives, no matter how talented the beekeeper.
We have got to find a way to bring this realization home to all of our fellow Millennial Democrats before it’s too late. It’s as if some of us have been in a bubble ever since the 2016 primary election and Bernie Sanders, repeating the same slogans to each other left and right. It has led to other generations slandering us and considering us to be unintelligent and unrealistic.
This is incredibly wrong and unfair. Once the dialogue begins, most of us are fair and decent, just as much so as anyone else. We are capable of thinking with reason. How dare we be held accountable for the conduct of the six-hundred-year-old Bernie? We’re going to be fine, thank you very much.
All we have to do is point out some basic things to one another.
We have to understand that socialism means state ownership, which is synonymous with public ownership but doesn’t sound as nice. It means to build an apparatus so huge that people can hardly fill it, and then hand over the keys to completely untested and radical persons. This has not gone well in the past. The entire systemic concept makes socialism, by its very nature, highly subject to despotism. We must come to thoroughly understand this.
Although the two terms sound alike, a massive gulf exists between the socialistic nightmares of Franz Kafka and social democracy, the highly decent governmental system that made the meatpacking industry in Chicago clean its act up after Upton Sinclair wrote The Jungle.
Social democracy, by the way, is the free-market model used by Nordic nations such as Sweden. Another term for it is Nordic capitalism. There is no socialism involved. Period. Bernie’s praise of their system’s accomplishments was just and correct but he didn’t understand what he was praising. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t either, but we believe there’s hope for her. She’s got a good heart. She’s just got to cut out all this nonsense about socialism.
The process of trade and money started up in society right away. It was the reason society was necessary. Capitalism is raw desire, and without society, it walked around in the hearts of cavemen, snatching from the others where it could. It was brutal, but it also allowed us to compete with more powerful forms of life. We realized back then that what makes us great is also what makes us dangerous. The human being is a sword with many edges.
There’s certainly no getting rid of capitalism. It exists and appears to be an integral part of human culture. So what to do with it? This has been the question since before humans wore pants. It came at the cost of two World Wars and a galaxy of other atrocities, but at this point, humans have channeled capitalism and made it work for us, and it has given us everything we have, problems and progress alike.
Every form of social organization, every form of government, is an attempt to give capitalism a saddle and riders. In America, we have the strength of the Roman Republic shoring up the walls of Greek democracy. Six thousand years of societal evolution has combined to give us the advantage we enjoy, as a nation. All we have to do is just take care of it.
And we’re going to give that up for- what, exactly? The half-baked regurgitations of Marx and Lenin that the far left has been shouting for these last few decades? Their “plan” is equivalent to cutting the basket ropes of a hot air balloon you are in because the sun is getting in your eyes. Destructive and ineffective. For all the disasters you cause in the process of cutting those ropes, the sun will still be in your eyes.
In the last analysis, regardless of who tries what, our nations and empires follow the same cycles of death and rebirth that our bodies do. During those cycles, the same things have happened in every generation. Most of them are not very nice.
Howard Zinn’s People’s History of the United States does a great job of illustrating just how ugly those struggles can get. Hundreds and hundreds of pages, and on each a grocery list of vivid atrocities. Yet still, somehow amid the dung-pile, he finds grounds to claim that humans can just unlearn it all, that we can just lay down and retire the entire concept of a State since people in a mob are so obviously capable of being objective and fair.
Most of us can’t even quit drinking caffeine.
Discussions about the nature of government have become much more common and much more critical for millennials than ever before. We must succeed where Bernie failed, and learn to correctly identify not only socialism, but also capitalism and understand its nature as an entity.
I ask you, readers- Have you ever read or seen Dune? The book, by Frank Herbert, the movie by David Lynch? If not, consider the recommendation made. It provides a perfect metaphor for the relationship between government, capitalism, and society.
Society is the Fremen sandriders. Capitalism is the sandworm. The government is the hooks they used to control where the sandworm goes.
The socialists want to act like the sandworm is not there, even while its jaws snap shut around them. They’d like it all to be theories and talk, and they ignore the grim realities behind many of their ideas. They think it’s just people waving hooks around and desert. They are slowing down the rest of us, in our quest to keep from being eaten.
On the other hand, the Republicans think that letting the sandworms go about without the hooks is good, which is so ridiculous and crude as to make a man throw up. In essence, both the right wing and the far left wing, are completely nuts. We need the government to regulate things, and this is why. We just don’t want to give it all the power. We’ll get by all right, we just have to keep moving forward together. Like Hillary Clinton said.
As John Locke said, the goal of government is not to restrict or negate the rights of man. It’s to ensure them. Even the most cursory glance at our sad yet vibrant history is enough to explain why we must have one. So let’s cut out all the nonsense and pining for the hunter-gatherer days and big revolutions and get to work cleaning our backyards. We can argue over terminology after we take back the House of Representatives.
There’s an enormous amount of work to do before a meaningful change will come to America, and most of it will not be done in our lifetimes. We can’t change that, but we can carry our load as best as we’re able, and we can be the change we want to see in the meantime. In a Democrat’s ideology, that is good enough. We don’t need to rise up in revolution; random acts of violence are not the answer. The answer is to look at the world in a spirit of love and kindness and to vote a straight Democratic ticket. In this election, and in every other.