Saturday, February 20, 2016

Navel gazing

With all the talk about "democratic socialism", these days, including attempts to define the term that make it essentially indistinguishable from "New Deal Democrat", I've spent some time thinking about how I would describe my own political/philosophical leanings to an interested stranger. Every day is different, but today I am thinking "radical democratic socialist" because I do NOT think that capitalism with a human face is sufficient. Private ownership of capital is essentially incompatible with democracy (which is why I've sometimes argued that "democratic socialism" is a tautology). Further, paying people, let alone paying them generously, just for owning stuff, let alone just because they already own a lot more stuff than anybody else, is morally indefensible.

On the other hand, I need to add something like "pragmatic radical", because I know that wishing don't make it so, and I do not believe in letting the best be the enemy of the good (or even of the "better than now"). Morally, it is better to do something to make things better, for at least some people, than to do nothing. Pretending to a high moral stance from "keeping your hands clean" is not actually better, morally, than being "compromised" by accepting, and working for, limited reforms. Life is short and (to quote a prominent liberal), in the long run we are all dead.

This leaves out a lot. Feminism, anti-racism... or, better, pro-POC... "embracing" LGBTQ (a phrase I learned recently from a friend, and like so much better than "ally"). I like to think of socialism as not limited to the economic realm. Socialism is democracy, taken to its ultimate conclusion. Socialism is the end of all exploitation, all preferential advantage or privilege of one group over another, for whatever reason, from whatever source.