Defining social democracy
By Henry Lamb
web posted March 25, 2002
Americans tend to react emotionally to words such as nazi,
communist, and socialist with very little understanding of what
distinguishes one from the other. The term "Social Democracy"
stirs little emotion, because it too, is not well understood.
Democratic socialism is a kinder, gentler, form of Marxism,
which arose throughout Europe after World War II. The
Scandinavian countries, Britain, France, The Netherlands, all
proudly wear the "Democratic Socialist" label. The United States
wears no such label but increasingly it should.
The credo of all forms of Marxism is "from each according to his
ability; to each according to his need" - with the government
being the supreme arbiter and enforcer of the redistribution.
What distinguishes the various brands of Marxism is the means
by which this basic goal is achieved.
From the start, the system of self-governance devised in America
rejected the notion that the government is the supreme anything.
Just the opposite. The U.S. Constitution defines the government
to be the creation of the people, empowered by the people's
consent, and severely limited in the powers it may exercise over
For nearly 200 years, this limited government power unleashed
the unlimited power of free people who built the most
prosperous society the world has ever known. Since the early
1970s however, America has been gradually moving more
toward the Democratic Socialist model, and away from the
limited government created by our founders.
In Europe, people are proud to be called Democratic Socialist.
Not so in America. The word "socialist" still has a negative
connotation politicians work hard to avoid, even while promoting
socialist policies. The Congressional Progressive
Caucus is the label under which the Democratic Socialist agenda
is advanced in America, working closely with the Democratic Socialists of America.
Program after program, the government has consolidated more
and more power, to dictate how people should live, by taking
wealth from those who have ability, and redistributing it to those
who have need - as determined by the government.
Social Democrats in both political parties are transforming
America from a system of limited government, empowered by
the consent of the people, to a social democracy in which the
government is the supreme arbiter and enforcer of the
redistribution of wealth and the dictator of socially acceptable
behavior. This fact is indisputable, as evidenced by the increasing
government control of land and resource use, of education, of
health care, of industry, and even speech and personal behavior.
Socialists welcome this transformation and continue to push for
more government control. The socialists are winning, not
because the people have debated, considered, and voted to
become a social democracy, but because the people have not
resisted the socialist initiatives.
In fact, the very people who would violently oppose changing
our form of government to a social democracy often support
socialist initiatives because they are carefully labeled "Smart
Growth," "Sustainable Development," "comprehensive land use
planning," "School to Work" and "Campaign Reform" and on
and on and on.
Programs, regardless of their labels, which take power away
from individuals, and local and state elected officials, and
increase the power of the federal government - advance the
transformation of America to a Social Democracy.
On the other hand, programs that leave land use decisions to
local elected officials, that leave education curriculum to local
elected school boards, and, perhaps most importantly, leave the
dollars earned by individuals in the individuals' pockets -
advance the principles of freedom and reject the principles of
The American experiment in self-governance has proven to be
among mankind's highest achievements. We who have benefited
from this experiment owe a debt to our forefathers, and have a
responsibility to our posterity, and to the world. We cannot let
this experiment be negated by a revised version of the Marxism
that has crushed the hopes of all who have been victimized by it.
We must recognize this subtle, sinister effort to transform the
American system of self-governance, and, as have previous
generations, rise up at create the means to extinguish the threat.
Our fathers and grandfathers battled with bullets to save our
Ballots are the ammunition for this generation, cast by an army of
Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental
Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty
Enter Stage Right - http://www.enterstageright.com