The Rise of Socialism
The concept of socialism has grown and evolved in the U.S. over recent years
In the past few years, the American left has grown significantly with the Democratic Socialists of America, an American socialist organization, seeing a 1000% increase in membership in the past 18 years. In addition, Bernie Sanders, an openly socialist candidate for president, received over 13 million votes in the 2016 Democratic primaries. So, what is Socialism and why has it gained popularity among some of the younger generation?
Socialism is defined by Merriam-Webster as,
“any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.”
In Layman’s terms, The ownership of workplaces by the workers. This may be accomplished by government ownership, or through direct democratic worker ownership of workplaces or companies. Socialism is an umbrella term, a very vague term that applies to many different ideologies.
One kind of socialism in the modern day is Democratic Socialism. Democratic Socialism is again, an umbrella term, but for American politics, it generally involves a free market, but with workplace democracy, and large social safety nets. So a Democratic Socialist would support things like Universal Health Care, Universal Basic Income, and Strong Welfare policies. Democratic Socialists often support more governmental reforms as well, things like Ranked Choice Voting which fixes the spoiler effect, and Proportional Representation, which would give congress seats by popular vote, so if the Republicans won 54% of the vote, they would gain 54% of the seats in congress.
The rise of Democratic Socialism in the United States can be easily explained. Since 1970, Productivity has increased by 70%, but wages have increased by only 11% adjusted for inflation. Combine that with the median home price, adjusted for inflation, has increased by over 100% and that over 75% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. In addition, where Baby boomers had 21% of the nation’s wealth at the time they were the age of Millennials, Millennials only have 3% of the national wealth. Piling on the evidence even more, just 3 people, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffet, own as much wealth as 50% of americans. That’s a lot of numbers, so in summary, workers are not getting paid fairly, homes cost double what they did in 1970, 75% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, younger people on average have very little wealth, and wealth inequality is at an all time high. It is no surprise that Democratic Socialism is also at an all time high.
The rise of democratic socialism in America is evident, with congress people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, and Bernie Sanders, the latter almost winning the democratic primary in 2016. But Democratic Socialists aren’t done, in fact this new movement has just begun, a new party, the People’s Party is forming. Endorsed by many on the left, and planning to run congressional candidates in 2022 and for president in 2024. Including a truly progressive platform, whether this new party will be successful is still a question.
Along with the rise in Leftist politicians, leftist media has exploded in the past 5 years. Thriving especially on Youtube, where channels like Vaush, Hbomberguy, and Innuendo Studios are exploding. Podcasts are also a medium where leftists are thriving, podcasts like Know Your Enemy and the Socialist Rifle Association Podcast are doing very well.
There are many arguments against the new movement of Democratic Socialism, but the primary argument is that of the other failed socialist experiments in the 20th century. Citing the Totalitarian nightmares of the Soviet Union, Mao’s China, and Castro’s Cuba. But as Michael Harrington, the founder of the Democratic Socialists of America, said,
“It is an intolerable irony that societies that are anything but socialist should thus define what socialism is in the eyes of so many. It is an irony that has to be undone ...Socialism, I want to propose, is the hope for human freedom and justice under the unprecedented conditions of life that humanity will face in the twenty-first century.”
Democratic Socialism does not seek to establish anything near to a Soviet style planned economy, Democratic Socialists wish to democratize the means of production. Democratic Socialism is fundamentally opposed to Communist nations, as all democratic ideologies should be. The real enemy of freedom and democracy, is not socialism, but is Authoritarianism. Authoritarianism has caused hundreds of millions of deaths, no matter which kind of authoritarianism it is. The enemy of all mankind should be and is, authoritarianism.