Socialism, specifically Democratic Socialism, has been rapidly rising in popularity in recent times. When I took my intro to Poli-Sci class we discussed it on the very first day. I specifically asked my professor what the difference between socialism and democratic socialism is and he didn’t really have much of an answer. So, the next day, I went to the Democratic Socialists of America website, the very organization of which Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a member. I started dissecting their website and still couldn’t figure out a concrete definition of what democratic socialism is.
Their website is full of contradictions as well, some even on the same page. They’ll say in one sentence that Socialism doesn’t seek to eliminate capitalism all together, but then a few paragraphs down say something to the extent of “we’ll eventually dismantle capitalism completely.” On the homepage of the website you’re shown a video entitled “Thanks Capitalism,” which sarcastically thanks capitalism for all of these horrible things in the world, and that could be debunked by a middle schooler. Seriously. I showed it to my middle school sister and even she didn’t buy it. Since the website didn’t do me much good in figuring this out, I decided to turn to some of the prominent Democratic Socialists and find a definition from them. All I could find was a video of Bernie Sanders explaining it, except he didn’t actually give a definition, he just played on emotions and danced around the question. I’m starting to notice a trend.
I watched some other videos, one done by Mashable that was particularly infuriating, but fortunately most people saw straight through it. So I went back to the DSA website and I found that they have a branch, the Young Democratic Socialists of America, that has chapters at colleges all over the country. They didn’t have one at my university but had one at Georgia Tech which is only an hour away. So me, being the overly curious troll that I am, decided to go. I found a friend to go with me and I messaged them on facebook (after changing my profile picture to one of me not firing a rifle) to find out dates, times, and location.
At this point I was crazy excited but also pretty nervous. I had seen so many videos of leftists just losing it (look up SJW cringe on Youtube, never fails to entertain) that I was intrigued as to how a socialist meeting would go down. Are they actually like that in real life? I honestly had no idea what to expect.
The day finally came and my friend and I get there and it seems pretty normal. A couple of the people seem a little quirky but nothing too out of the ordinary. So, when the meeting actually starts, the first thing we do is go around to room and introduce ourselves… including our preferred pronouns. So, already I’m like, “yikes, this is different.” Then, the officers give a run down of what we’re going to do for that session: basically, we would watch a movie and then discuss how it is a reflection of modern day capitalism. It’s not what I expected but I’m actually pretty keen on the idea. The movie we watched was “Son of Man” and it was actually a pretty good film, if you want to check it out (be warned, there’s some language and brief female nudity). Here’s the thing though, the movie had nothing to do with capitalism. You’ll rarely find a person more passionate about capitalism, or who sees it in everything, than me, and this movie wasn’t about capitalism. In fact, most of the problems in the movie I could attribute to a lack of a free market or to an overreaching government. And then, when the movie was over, I made a comment like, “yikes that was an intense movie,” and the officer responded with, “well, that’s capitalism for you”… it’s literally not.. but okay my dude. We then moved our chairs to all face each other and discuss the movie, and some other issues that came up, and the gist of it is basically that capitalism is the source of all of their problems. It reminded me of feminists blaming all of their problems, even them being cold at work, on the patriarchy. When, in reality, there’s no causation there.
As much as the meeting was pretty anticlimactic – there was no Ben Shapiro owning the libs moment or huge SJW meltdown – I still have some takeaways from the whole experience. First, these people aren’t all the crazies that we see online, and they truly have good intentions. Inasmuch as I firmly believe that socialism is evil, I don’t think that the people who advocate for it come from a place of evil intentions. They see poverty and suffering and then contrast that with the rich elites, and then try to create a utopia out of that in which everyone is equal. What they fail to realize is that what they are doing is inherently rooted in envy, and because it tries to change human nature to fit an ideal, it is doomed to fail. Democratic socialists argue that we’ve never seen 100% socialism, particularly Democratic socialism, and thus we can’t know for sure that it wont work. Which is true that we’ve never seen 100% socialism, however, almost socialism has killed over 100 million people, while almost capitalism has dropped the poverty rate from 94% to 17% from 1820-2011 (Martin Roeser), a point made by Mark Antro, a semi-well-known Classical Liberal in the twitterverse (@markantro). Secondly, and following this train of thought, comes the hard pill to swallow that there really isn’t a perfect solution to the world’s problems. There are always going to be people who are worse off than others and that’s just a sad reality of life on earth. The thing is, that’s easy to say, but hard to truly come to terms with when faced with the often tragic state of affairs in the world. It can be very easy to see that and then see the rich and say to redistribute. It can be hard to be the one to say “that doesn’t work,” because it seems uncompassionate and cruel. The thing to remember is that stealing from the rich to give to the poor is still stealing. It’s not your job to be compassionate for other people because to take away one right to chose is one of the first steps on the road to tyranny and poverty.