A national convention of the Democratic Socialists of America took place in Atlanta last weekend. If you listen to the audio alone, you would be forgiven for thinking it’s an episode of South Park. (It was hilariously terrifying.)
The beauty of free speech is that we all have the opportunity to listen in and see how people relate with one another in their natural habitats.
How to Love Socialism
As someone who values individual sovereignty, there’s a part of me that sympathizes with socialism, but in a way that most socialists hate.
I don’t have a problem with socialism per se. Or even democratic socialism. The main grievance I have with any political structure is bigness.
Some form of “democratic socialism,” after all, MIGHT be a great fit for a small community of 300 people who share the same values… goals… and lifestyles.
The nitty-gritty. So here’s what it comes down to:
If it is voluntary, it is A-OK.
If you want to live in an “ecosexual” community that battles climate change by humping moss... you do you. Why would I stop you?
If it is mandated by law… by force… at the point of a gun…
That’s where I start to quiver in paranoid fear at the potential implications. As we all should.
When Socialism Works (ugh)
As for the former, the voluntary form of socialism, there is, indeed, precedent. Take, for example, the Bruderhof community of Christians in the UK. While the UK’s Mirror, in typical mainstream media fashion, paints the small community as “bizarre” and “radical”, The truth is it’s the exact opposite of bizarre and radical. It’s safe, predictable, disciplined, and... well... boring.
“Imagine,” says Sara Wallis, “a place where there is no debt, crime or homelessness. No one worries about money, mortgages or unemployment.”
In a normal day, the families get up at 6am, eat breakfast together at 6:15, then it’s school and work for everyone from 7:30am to 5pm, with a 2-hour communal lunch break. At school, the kids study in the morning, but then “it’s like summer camp” in the afternoon. There are obvious trade-offs however. To be a part of the community, the individual is forced to sacrifice quite a bit of his or her own autonomy.
“It’s a community,” says Wallis, “where you are not always allowed to make decisions about your life, where families can be asked to move house if it’s deemed better for the greater good and where a traditional uniform from a bygone era is worn.”
Their work is not centered just around maintaining the community, however, says Wallis: “The community collectively raises tens of thousands of pounds for charity.” A socialist’s wet dream, right? Wrong.
There’s a problem with this type of socialism. It requires three things absent in our modern day’s idea of the socialist utopia…
1] Personal responsibility and self-ownership
2] Abdication of autonomy.and free choice (rather than “restrictions for thee and none for me”)
3] Adherence to a clearly defined set of values (i.e., a loss of ambiguity and moral relativity)
As a voluntary option, however, where one can leave at any time, there’s no reason why someone couldn’t live a perfectly happy life in that particular case and form of “socialism.”
The Problem With “Big Socialism”
The problem with “Big Socialism,” apart from the aforementioned necessary use of force, coercion, violence, and all that stuff that makes society suck, the advocate for “Big Socialism” wants a fantasyland wherein we can all be (but especially he) shielded from our own weak spots and negligence. Rather than strengthening ourselves in the necessary fire of maturation, civilization is seen as a feather bed, a given, a constant. And the only problem with civilization is not a matter of contribution, but that it has been doled out unfairly. It’s not “open opportunity” for growth that economists mistakenly worry themselves with. It’s the lack of an open reward system. It’s worse than a fairytale. (At least a fairytale has a moral.) And it leads to insanity, such as that which can be experienced if viewing the national convention of the Democratic Socialists of America video as I've done, which is but a microcosm of Big Socialism…
Wherein, you’ll notice, every individual believes the most important thing isn’t to live in harmony with others based on clearly-defined principles and values, (something social justice and socialist crowds in general severely lack, yet act as if they don’t) but to demand that others conform to an ever-shifting and highly ambiguous landscape of “sensitivities”. Nobody is willing to sacrifice their discomfort for the “greater good,” and yet everyone expects everyone else to.
If that’s all Big Socialism has to offer, then NO THANK YOU dear Democratic Socialists of America.
We’ll be fine without you.