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Tags Democratic Socialism , DSA

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Old 8th January 2019, 08:58 PM   #1
Puppycow
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Democratic Socialism and the Democratic Party

I thought it would be a good idea to have a thread about Democratic Socialism, and the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). What is their long-term vision, and how do they intend to achieve their goals?

Here is where they lay this out in their own words:

Toward Freedom: Democratic Socialist Theory and Practice

It's a bit longish -- too long to quote more than a small excerpt -- but if you read it, you should be able to understand where they are coming from and what they hope to achieve. It lays out their vision of how the institutions of society would be organized if they achieve their goals, and also some discussion about how they intend to work towards those goals.

Instead of forming a third party like the Green Party, they see the Democratic Party as the only realistic political vehicle by which they could achieve them, given the nature of the American political system. Third parties tend to fail in the US.

I think, for example, that the Tea Party on the right recognized this. If the Tea Party had organized itself as an actual third party and ran its own separate candidates against Democrats and Republicans in three-way races, it would have had much less success than it did by working from within the Republican party. Instead, Tea Party candidates ran in Republican primaries against more moderate "establishment" Republicans. This was a more successful political model than any independent third party has ever achieved (at least since the latter half of the 20th century). So you can sort of see the DSA as a kind of "Tea Party of the left".

But anyway, what is Democratic Socialism anyway? One thing it is not, is the Nordic Model. The Nordic Model is not socialism. It is a kind of hybrid model that includes capitalism and private property rights. It would be an error to mistake Democratic Socialism for the welfare states of Sweden, Denmark and Norway. If you carefully read the link above (from the DSA), this should be pretty clear.

From the perspective of a mainstream liberal democrat such as myself, this is a little concerning. Because while I support the Nordic Model, and would like the see the United States move in that direction, I don't support the far-left goals of Democratic Socialism, such as the abolishment of Capitalism. I believe a well-regulated capitalism is important to the economy. I see the Nordic Model as a real-world example of these policies actually working in practice, whereas there appears to be no functioning, succesful real-world example of Democratic Socialism. The closest examples of how Democratic Socialism actually works in the real world appear to be in Latin America.

Here is a critique of Democratic Socialism from the perspective of another mainstream Democrat:

Democratic Socialism is a Scam

Quote:
In a classic bait-and-switch scam, democratic socialist politicians and their allies in the media are hoping that Americans confuse them for Nordic social democrats. While the terms are phonetically similar, those of us who have worked and spent time in Latin America understand that this is more than a misnomer. The ideology and policies of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which include an end to profits and “democratizing” the means of production, are much more like those of Havana and Caracas than Helsinki and Copenhagen.
In short, I think that mainstream liberal Democrats need to be wary of this political movement for the same reason that traditional Republicans need to be wary of movements like the Tea Party or Trump-style populism. If this movement is allowed to take over and dominate the Democratic party, it could become a different kind of party from what it was in the past.
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Old 8th January 2019, 09:51 PM   #2
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Wow, thank you for this. Before reading that I also though they wanted to push the nordic model.

Instead these guys are far left communist types. Marx is quoted heavily here. Lenin is even mentioned! WTF. Total nutbars.
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Old 8th January 2019, 09:56 PM   #3
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I don't think that they really are that big an issue, yes I can see what they are trying to do in running on the coat tails of Social Democrats such as Bernie Sanders and AOC, but I don't think they have the numbers or names to really do anything. Unlike the Tea Party where there was no competition when they formed, those that are Social Democrats aren't going to switch to Democratic Socialism just because they get someone on the ballot, and currently is seems that they have little more power than giving support to Social Democrats on the ticket anyways. Perhaps in a few years we might come back and I'll be wrong, but currently, I don't see them having any chance of changing things even if the Democrats do move towards Social Democracy.

The biggest issue I see is with Conservatives who likely have zero understanding of the difference, or more likely, simply don't care because they can tar Social Democracy with the brush of Democratic Socialism.
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Old 8th January 2019, 09:59 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by NewtonTrino View Post
Wow, thank you for this. Before reading that I also though they wanted to push the nordic model.

Instead these guys are far left communist types. Marx is quoted heavily here. Lenin is even mentioned! WTF. Total nutbars.
Yes, the Democratic Socialism Party of America is basically the US Communist Party in disguise. They should not be confused with Social Democracy which is a different Kettle of fish, even if they often share apparent goals.
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Old 8th January 2019, 10:01 PM   #5
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To be fair, I think Lenin is not mentioned in favorable terms, but as a cautionary tale of how socialist projects can go wrong, but they openly admit to being heavily influenced by Marx and other thinkers that came out of that tradition.

They want socialism, meaning Marxism, but through peaceful democratic means, rather than armed struggle such as Lenin.
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Old 8th January 2019, 10:08 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by PhantomWolf View Post
yes I can see what they are trying to do in running on the coat tails of Social Democrats such as Bernie Sanders and AOC,
Just so you know:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez

Quote:
Ocasio-Cortez is a self-described democratic socialist.[106] She is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.[10]
So she is not a Social Democrat, but rather a Democratic Socialist and a member of the DSA.
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Old 8th January 2019, 10:14 PM   #7
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As far as Bernie Sanders goes, he has called himself a Democratic Socialist, but as far as I know, he is not a member of the DSA.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bernie_Sanders

Quote:
Sanders is a self-described democratic socialist,[236] and progressive who admires the Nordic model of social democracy and has been a proponent of workplace democracy.[237][233][238] In November 2015, Sanders gave a speech at Georgetown University about his view of democratic socialism, including its place in the policies of presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson.[239][240] In defining what democratic socialism means to him, Sanders said: "I don't believe government should take over the grocery store down the street or own the means of production, but I do believe that the middle class and the working families who produce the wealth of America deserve a decent standard of living and that their incomes should go up, not down. I do believe in private companies that thrive and invest and grow in America, companies that create jobs here, rather than companies that are shutting down in America and increasing their profits by exploiting low-wage labor abroad."[239] Based on Sanders's positions and votes throughout his political career, Noam Chomsky and Thomas Frank have described Sanders as "a New Dealer".[b][241]
So, although Sanders does use the term "democratic socialist" it seems he is not a full-blown Marxist.
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Old 8th January 2019, 10:16 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by PhantomWolf View Post
I don't think that they really are that big an issue, yes I can see what they are trying to do in running on the coat tails of Social Democrats such as Bernie Sanders and AOC, but I don't think they have the numbers or names to really do anything. Unlike the Tea Party where there was no competition when they formed, those that are Social Democrats aren't going to switch to Democratic Socialism just because they get someone on the ballot, and currently is seems that they have little more power than giving support to Social Democrats on the ticket anyways. Perhaps in a few years we might come back and I'll be wrong, but currently, I don't see them having any chance of changing things even if the Democrats do move towards Social Democracy.

The biggest issue I see is with Conservatives who likely have zero understanding of the difference, or more likely, simply don't care because they can tar Social Democracy with the brush of Democratic Socialism.
Ocasio-Cortez is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist so someone ought to let her know she's wrong. I'm not convinced she's wrong.

First search result of many, from a Meet The Press Interview:
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/...-cortez-689647
Quote:
Democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday she embraces the “Democratic Socialist” label but doesn’t want to force other Democrats to do the same.

It’s part of what I am; it’s not all of what I am,” Ocasio-Cortez said on “Meet the Press” on NBC. “And I think that’s a very important distinction.”
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Old 8th January 2019, 10:21 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Just so you know:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez



So she is not a Social Democrat, but rather a Democratic Socialist and a member of the DSA.
Okay, fair enough, but one person does not make that much difference, especially one who's a freshman house member. And especially one that says this....

“I'm not trying to impose an ideology on all several hundred members of Congress,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “But I do think that, once again, it's not about selling an ‘-ism‘ or an ideology or a label or a color. This is about selling our values.”
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Old 8th January 2019, 10:23 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by mgidm86 View Post
Ocasio-Cortez is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist so someone ought to let her know she's wrong. I'm not convinced she's wrong.

First search result of many, from a Meet The Press Interview:
https://www.politico.com/story/2018/...-cortez-689647
Yeah, see my post #6 above. She not only describes herself as a Democratic Socialist, she is in fact a member of the DSA.

Another source for that:
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic Socialists of America member. Here’s what that means. (Vox)
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Old 9th January 2019, 12:27 AM   #11
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AOC and Sanders have called themselves "Democratic Socialists", and AOC is a member of the DSA, but they are both still social democrats. Even the DSA admits it:

Quote:
The thing about DSA is we’re what is called a big-tent organization. So we have some people who would be satisfied with Scandinavian social democracy.

Are those the moderates within your organization?

Yes. That’s the idea that nobody should be starving in the streets, but we could have a mixed economy, and that’s a way to tame capitalism.

...

If Ocasio-Cortez is articulating that version, which is a more moderate version of what you stand for, how good is that for you guys?

It’s incredibly important. It’s like Bernie Sanders running for president and getting millions of votes.

They are the most moderate versions of what you are. They’re not actually the exemplars of your philosophy. Is that a problem?

They’re the most moderate version of what we as an organization think of as democratic socialism, but compared to the American political system, they are super far-left. One of the roles of democratic socialists is to pull the political debate back to where it needs to be, because the Republicans—and they’ve been aided and abetted by the Democrats over the years—have pulled and pulled and pulled the debate to the far right, to the point where even basic social-democratic ideas were beyond the pale.

Ocasio-Cortez confronting, much like how Bernie Sanders confronted, this neoliberal capitalist consensus that the market was a solution to all problems is incredibly important. It shows that another world is possible. She speaks with a visionary language that resonates with millions of people in the same way that Bernie Sanders did. That is, in a country where we are, as I said, fed along with mother’s milk, this idea that endless competition with each other is the only way that we can live, endless isolation from each other, and loneliness. There is no alternative. That is incredibly important.

There are probably people listening to this show who are big fans of Bernie or Ocasio-Cortez. One of the things they say is that that’s what the Democratic Party should be. These people probably get quite offended when they’re painted with charges like, “Oh, Bernie wants to nationalize the means of production. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t believe in private ownership.” However, you’re telling me that DSA means a whole lot of stuff way to the left, if you will, of that.

What’s the problem with that?

That people who are backers of those two candidates either aren’t on board or it would give them pause to know there is legitimacy in the criticism of those two candidates as being adherent of a philosophy that is way to the left of where their fans are or where even those two politicians are.

We really believe in people, and we actually believe that many people in this country are much more dissatisfied with the status quo than you might think from the way the mainstream media, even liberals and progressives, talk about it. We are not concerned, because they actually believe that most people know that something is terribly wrong. They know that we’re going off the climate cliff. They know that there are a few winners and a whole lot of losers in our economy.

If they are introduced to a set of political ideas that help crystallize why this is happening, then that’s fine, and that’s actually a good thing, and that is the role of a socialist organization—to introduce ideas that have been squeezed out of the mainstream debate.
Linky.

I've always been critical of Sanders and the DSA for the confusion around "Democratic Socialism" and social democracy. To Sanders, AOC, and many in the DSA, Democratic Socialism does in fact mean Denmark (social democracy, welfare capitalism). My theory has always been that it is a surrender to the conservative propaganda that government intervention and worker's organization is socialism. The NHS and trade unions are socialism? Okay, we like socialism now.

If you look at what socialists say about it, it is not very complimentary. Examples pulled from r/socialism:

https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/c...ke_alexandria/

https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/c...ocasiocortezs/

https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/c...hy_alexandria/

https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/c...cies_are_more/ (This one is about AOC making the Norway vs. Venezuela comparison herself.)

https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/c...ocratic_party/

TL;DR AOC or Sanders are social democrats, who LARP as "Democratic Socialists".

I don't see any real risk of socialist influence. It's almost laughable. If anything, the risk is for the socialists within the "big tent". The very term for their ideology is being co-opted to support left of center Democrats. They are just further marginalizing themselves.

The more cynical view is that, as with the previous decades the DSA has been active, they merely act to shepherd the radicals back to the Democratic Party. Historically it isn't unprecedented. Democrats and labor leaders formed the Labor's Non-Partisan League and co-opted the American Labor Party to stifle socialist would be Labor Party movements and funnel radicals back to FDR. (I do think there are true believers at the DSA, and not a Democratic conspiracy, but in function they are achieving the same result.)
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Old 9th January 2019, 12:57 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Tsukasa Buddha View Post
If you look at what socialists say about it, it is not very complimentary. Examples pulled from r/socialism:

https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/c...ke_alexandria/

https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/c...ocasiocortezs/

https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/c...hy_alexandria/

https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/c...cies_are_more/ (This one is about AOC making the Norway vs. Venezuela comparison herself.)

https://www.reddit.com/r/socialism/c...ocratic_party/

TL;DR AOC or Sanders are social democrats, who LARP as "Democratic Socialists".
Thanks. That was edifying. That subreddit reminds me of The Judean People's Front. Do Socialists spend most of their time criticizing other Socialists with a slightly different point of view? Splitter!!!
Sample quote:
Quote:
That socdem you're willing to take over a neoliberal would gladly turn you in for execution if said revolution actually happened today. She's bourgeois to the core, she's no different than Obama.
Originally Posted by Tsukasa Buddha View Post
I don't see any real risk of socialist influence. It's almost laughable. If anything, the risk is for the socialists within the "big tent". The very term for their ideology is being co-opted to support left of center Democrats. They are just further marginalizing themselves.

The more cynical view is that, as with the previous decades the DSA has been active, they merely act to shepherd the radicals back to the Democratic Party. Historically it isn't unprecedented. Democrats and labor leaders formed the Labor's Non-Partisan League and co-opted the American Labor Party to stifle socialist labor movements and funnel radicals back to FDR.
Perhaps you are right. We'll see. But this merits further consideration.

https://twitter.com/AOC/status/1030551017383809024

Here's where she claims "my actual policies are more reminiscent of Norway than Caracas". So maybe the label isn't the actual thing in this case.
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Old 9th January 2019, 01:49 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
Thanks. That was edifying. That subreddit reminds me of The Judean People's Front. Do Socialists spend most of their time criticizing other Socialists with a slightly different point of view? Splitter!!!
I've been banned . Socialists are famously sectarian. It started when Marx was alive:

Quote:
Marx made his famous remark that, if their politics represented Marxism, “ce qu'il y a de certain c'est que moi, je ne suis pas Marxiste” (“what is certain is that I myself am not a Marxist”).
Linky.
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Old 9th January 2019, 06:23 AM   #14
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Ehh, you're maybe three or four years late to raise any outrage in me. The thing about the Overton Window is if you ever want it to cover your point of view, you've gotta have people on the near side trying to pull it past you. The Tea Party taught me that. They've brought their extremist views closer to reality than a rant on an organization page (wonder what their rants say, hm?), but so far have only been effective at making politics much more conservative than before their rise to power.
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Old 9th January 2019, 01:00 PM   #15
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Nice OP by Puppycow.

From the DSA vision statement:
Quote:
Democratic socialists believe that the individuality of each human being can only be developed in a society embodying the values of liberty, equality, and solidarity. These beliefs do not entail a crude conception of equality that conceives of human beings as equal in all respects. Rather, if human beings are to develop their distinct capacities they must be accorded equal respect and opportunities denied them by the inequalities of capitalist society, in which the life opportunities of a child born in the inner city are starkly less than that of a child born in an affluent suburb.
This is what Warren Buffet often refers to as the Ovarian Lottery, and they are trying to contract our society from behind Rawls' Veil of Ignorance. So far, so good. I think this is what attracts many to socialism in the first place.

Then they discuss repeating a bunch of social experiments that have failed horribly in the past.
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Old 9th January 2019, 06:09 PM   #16
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Yeah, these guys sound like old-fashioned socialists to me:

Quote:
While the exact details of a socialist economy are open to debate, it will most likely be a mixture of democratic planning of major investments (e.g., expenditure on infrastructure, investment in natural monopolies such as telecommunications, utilities, transport) and market exchange of consumer goods. Large, concentrated industries such as energy and steel would be publicly owned and managed by worker and consumer representatives. Many consumer-goods industries would be run as cooperatives. Workers would design the division of labor within their workplaces and thus overcome the authoritarianism of the traditional capitalist firm. Economic planning would set a guiding strategy by means of fiscal and monetary policy, with the daily coordination of supply and demand left to the market. But this market would be socialized by rendering it transparent. Enterprises would be obliged to divulge information about the design, production processes, price formation, wage conditions, and environmental consequences of the goods that they make. Publicly supported collectives—consumers’ unions—would analyze this data and propose norms to govern various aspects of these practices.
They give lip service to the market, and there's all this touchy-feely stuff about workers running the show, but it's not hard to see that there will have to be a firm authoritarian hand in order to force economic society to bend to its will.
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Old 9th January 2019, 06:11 PM   #17
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Social Democracy, as PhantomWolf said.

That's also what the Nordic model is.
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Old 9th January 2019, 07:35 PM   #18
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Economic Freedom Index of a select few countries:
Denmark 76.6
United States 75.7
Venezuela 25.2

Denmark is arguably more capitalist than the United States. It is the engine of voluntary exchange of goods and services in their private sector economy that is the engine that provides the bounty needed for their substantial social spending on health care and education and so on.
Conservatives and Liberals alike love to conflate social spending with socialISM, but they are not the same and nothing could be more different than the Nordic model vs. the Venezuelan model.
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Old 9th January 2019, 08:12 PM   #19
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A thought: Socialism isn't the solution to insufficient social spending.
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Old 9th January 2019, 11:17 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by portlandatheist View Post
Economic Freedom Index of a select few countries:
Denmark 76.6
United States 75.7
Venezuela 25.2

Denmark is arguably more capitalist than the United States. It is the engine of voluntary exchange of goods and services in their private sector economy that is the engine that provides the bounty needed for their substantial social spending on health care and education and so on.
Conservatives and Liberals alike love to conflate social spending with socialISM, but they are not the same and nothing could be more different than the Nordic model vs. the Venezuelan model.
You seem to have missed the point that the Democratic Socialists of America are not proposing the Nordic model.
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Old 9th January 2019, 11:43 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
You seem to have missed the point that the Democratic Socialists of America are not proposing the Nordic model.
I do understand that. They use Marxist language and I think it is important, as others have noted, that they should be differentiated from those that talk about social spending like the Nordic model. The Democratic Socialists are nuts.
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Old 10th January 2019, 12:16 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by portlandatheist View Post
The Democratic Socialists are nuts.
no more so than the Tea Party.

Just for re-balancing the US ideological system it is healthy to have some nuts on either side of the spectrum.
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Old 10th January 2019, 08:13 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
no more so than the Tea Party.

Just for re-balancing the US ideological system it is healthy to have some nuts on either side of the spectrum.
I agree with you, and yet It is a bit scary when you see the nuts on your own side.
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Old 10th January 2019, 03:31 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
You seem to have missed the point that the Democratic Socialists of America are not proposing the Nordic model.
But self-labelled "Democratic Socialists" in the DSA and outside it, like AOC and Bernie, are proposing the Nordic mode.
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Old 10th January 2019, 06:33 PM   #25
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Bernie and AOC basically just want a rehash of the social safety philosophies of TR, FDR, JFK, LBJ, Nixon, etc. maybe modified a bit to fit the current landscape, with emerging issues of healthcare and climate change.

That's not democratic socialism as I understand it, even if AOC or her supporters call themselves that.
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Old 10th January 2019, 09:55 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Dr. Keith View Post
I agree with you, and yet It is a bit scary when you see the nuts on your own side.
Which is why they aren't a problem. The difference on the other side is that they are not scared of the nuts on their own side.
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Old 11th January 2019, 05:53 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Roger Ramjets View Post
Which is why they aren't a problem. The difference on the other side is that they are not scared of the nuts on their own side.
Quite true.

The Left looks at its nuts and quietly ushers them into a corner where they can paint their signs and practice their slogans, but do very little damage.

The Right looked at their nuts and after welcoming them on in, they gave them the car keys!
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Old 11th January 2019, 12:11 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Tsukasa Buddha View Post
But self-labelled "Democratic Socialists" in the DSA and outside it, like AOC and Bernie, are proposing the Nordic mode.
At some point it would be nice if they clarified that.

I mean, If I called myself a "National Socialist" but I said, "But wait! My actual policies differ from the Nazis!" would that be useful?
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Old 11th January 2019, 12:16 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by Puppycow View Post
I mean, If I called myself a "National Socialist" but I said, "But wait! My actual policies differ from the Nazis!" would that be useful?
It may take you off the punchables list, but I'm not sure.
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