Q: Let’s start with the big question. In an ideal world, who would control the means of production?
“Our ultimate goal is for working people to run our society and run our workplaces and our economies,” said Maria Svart, the national director of the D.S.A. “It’s a vision of actually, truly democratizing the economy, not just taking a lot of public services away from the profit-seeking private marketplace.”
Democratic socialists do believe that a small number of industries, including energy and steel, would be best administered by the government. But generally speaking, they want a decentralized economy. They explicitly oppose authoritarian communism as seen in the Soviet Union; instead, they favor arrangements like workers’ cooperatives.
Q: In a capitalist system, do you believe government regulations are helpful or harmful?
You agree with democratic socialists. They believe that as long as private corporations exist — and they freely acknowledge that that will be the case for the foreseeable future — the government should regulate them in order to, in their view, mitigate the harms of capitalism and push companies to act in the best interests of workers and society as a whole. For example, a democratic socialist might support strengthening labor laws, raising the minimum wage, mandating parental leave, barring companies from outsourcing jobs to low-wage countries and banning environmentally harmful activities.
Q: Do you believe that everyone is entitled to a certain minimum standard of living?
“A democratic community committed to the equal moral worth of each citizen will socially provide the cultural and economic necessities — food, housing, quality education, health care, child care — for the development of human individuality,” Joseph Schwartz and Jason Schulman wrote in a D.S.A. paper outlining the principles of democratic socialism.
Q: Do you believe labor unions are a positive force?
Q: Which of these best matches your views on health care?
A: The whole health care industry should be socialized. Health care would be funded through a single-payer government system, and doctors would be public employees, like in Britain.
Q: Ideally, how should major social or political changes be achieved?
A: Through grass-roots organizing.