On Democratic Socialism
Interesting that Einstein, like Noam Chomsky and Bernie Sanders, considered himself a “democratic socialist” and sad how there is an absolute refusal by so many who probably share their values to consider the validity of that econo-political perspective because of an automatically negative reaction to the term “socialist”, a concept that crystalizes the principles espoused by “the Christ”.
“Democratic socialism” synthesizes a profound respect for individual rights with responsibility to society, rejecting authoritarian government of all kinds. But to most Americans during the past century and a half just the sound of the word “socialist” has been interpreted as synonymous with undefined and indescribable evil, at best, coupled with naiveté. It has become a mere pejorative used without thought.
I believe the term “democracy” in the phrase is misleading because liberty is not inherent in such term and I believe liberty is what they referenced. Liberty is a concept focused on individual autonomy while democracy is a majoritarian concept that can (and too frequently) does subsume liberty. That is a distortion caused by liberal occidental linguistic laziness which, rather than create a term for a desired fusion of democracy, liberty and pluralism, merely usurped a classic concept. “Libertarian socialism” would seem more descriptive and should be, but the term “libertarian” has also been distorted by linguistic laziness which has expanded it, in popular sentiment, with anachronistic economic theories like the inherent value theories of money (e.g., the gold standard).
Still, it’s the fusion of liberty with collective responsibility that I perceive Einstein, Chomsky and Sanders believe in, and I believe, had he considered it, Einstein might have described it in formula such as: liberty + socialism = individual rights + common welfare.
The phrase “libertarian socialist” exists as a concept but is popularly derided as oxymoronic, primarily be people who do not adequately understand either word
I wonder if things are changing enough so our minds are open to such a fusion?
We could use it now more than ever.
© Guillermo Calvo Mahé; Manizales, 2016; all rights reserved