Chapter News

What Is "Democratic Socialism?"

Bob (Berto) Rossi
September 1, 2018

Under capitalism—the present system of private ownership of resources and production and distribution—most of us work for wages, bosses take profits, landlords control housing and land, and people compete. Government reflects the wants of the large corporations and banks. Workers are exploited as a condition of employment. The majority of people of color in the U.S. live in what are essentially colonies, and they and women and LGBTQIA+ people experience special oppression. From the local cop to the immigration detention centers, from the school-to-prison pipeline to the U.S.-held colonies, from the local political establishments to the dictatorships around the world there is one capitalist system exploiting and oppressing us for profit.

Socialists have other goals. Socialism is about organizing society on the basis of direct democracy in every area of life, from the most personal to the most political. Human rights include housing, education, immigration, union membership, healthcare, meaningful work under workers’ control, social insurance, the liberation of women and people of color, peace and justice, community self-determination, and ecologically sustainable development. The power to win freedom for all oppressed and exploited peoples comes from people organizing for social change. This means building unity against oppression and exploitation, electing people who are committed to full democracy, and eventually refusing cooperation with capitalism and seizing privately-held wealth and power.

What would democratic socialism look like? The wealth that we create by working would go to the benefit of all. Democratic unions and community institutions would be essential and would hold real political and economic power. Legislatures would lead in economic planning and ensuring that workers and oppressed peoples advance. Society’s wealth would be held under public control, in cooperatives, by workers’ and peoples’ organizations, and by individuals where necessary. Social planning would determine society’s priorities and how production and distribution work. Education, healthcare, housing, credit and development would be under public ownership. Political parties would compete on level fields. Mass parties of workers and oppressed peoples would build social solidarity. All social, economic and political policies, and all foreign and military policies, would be built on the principles of peaceful solidarity and sustainable growth.