Monday, September 24, 2018

Are you a democratic socialist?

Good quick quiz that reveals if you are one, as well as what that phrase means. I of course answered every question that reflects that description. Here is my Q&A:

Q: Let’s start with the big question. In an ideal world, who would control the means of production?
A: Workers

You agree with democratic socialists. They believe that wherever possible, industries should be controlled by the workers who operate them and the consumers who depend on them — not by corporations, and not by the government either. Essentially, they believe that the more control that is directly in workers’ hands, the better.

“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?
A: Helpful
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: Yes

You agree with democratic socialists. They believe that no one should lack basic necessities because of the “accident,” as Ms. Svart put it, of where or to whom they were born.
“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?
A: Yes

You agree with democratic socialists. They believe unions are essential on two fronts: to hold companies accountable to their workers and, in the long term, to empower workers to challenge capitalism as a whole. Making it easier for workers to unionize “changes the power dynamic between workers and bosses,” Ms. Svart said. Strikes “demonstrate that our society can’t function without the work of millions of people,” she added. “They can’t run the economy without us.” Ultimately, democratic socialists want workers to control the means of production. In the meantime, they see unions as a way to give workers more power under capitalism.

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.

You agree with democratic socialists. They believe health care — along with necessities like food, housing, education and child care — is a basic right that should be guaranteed to everyone. They also believe that doctors and medical facilities should be publicly employed and run, as is the case in Britain’s National Health Service. This system would be a step beyond “Medicare for all,” in which the government would cover the cost of care but personnel would remain privately employed, and medical facilities privately operated. However, democratic socialists acknowledge that a fully socialized system isn’t politically achievable right now, so they support “Medicare for all” in the meantime.

Q: Ideally, how should major social or political changes be achieved?
A: Through grass-roots organizing.

You agree with democratic socialists. While they support and participate in the electoral process (as evidenced by the many D.S.A. candidates this year), they believe the ideal way to make change is through mass mobilization and organizing. “We would prefer, for example, for us to win universal rent control in New York through organizing millions of New Yorkers,” Ms. Svart said. “We believe that it’s through the process of pushing for these changes that people empower themselves.”

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