It’s very interesting living in the United States, where democracy came into its modern existence… but where its expression is also most truncated.
Americans are politically aware of only two political/economic dimensions: Republican or Democrat; Conservative or Liberal; Right or Left; Capitalist or Socialist; Big Government or Small Government; Free-Market or Communist…
We are politically poorer for it and, hence, less respectful of nuanced but significant differences in perspective, less respectful of other alternatives to the current political structure…. and therefore, afford ourselves less opportunity for new solutions to solve our varied and serious problems.
I am almost constantly defending myself against the accusation of being a “Socialist” — an insult in America — when what I am is far from it. But even so, what is wrong with one supporting a socialist perspective? Or a Libertarian perspective? Nothing. Neither is a perspective that I maintain, but they’re certainly valid for anyone else if this is indeed a free society of democratic values and expression.
And, if that is true, why are these other perspectives not proportionally represented in the United States government through our elected branches? And, now we’re back to where we started and where our political expression is truncated.
So, let me shed some light on the nuanced but significant difference between Socialism and Social Democracy…. between a Socialist and a Social Democrat (distinctions and movements quite well understood everywhere outside the United States).
Socialism vs Social Democracy — What’s The Difference?
- One is about collective ownership of the means of production;
- the other about organic social solidarity with private ownership of production.
- One is restrictive;
- the other libertarian.
- One is metaphysical (excessively abstract reasoning);
- the other empirical (demonstrable, verifiable reasoning).
- One is dogmatic;
- the other scientific.
- One is emotional;
- the other reflective.
- One is destructive;
- the other constructive.
- Both are in pursuit of the greatest possible welfare for all.
– One aims to establish happiness for all;
– the other to enable each to be happy in one’s own way.
- The first regards the State as a society “sui generis,” of a unique essence, the product of a right outside of and above all society, with special rights and able to exact special obediences;
- the second considers the State as an association like any other, generally managed no better and no more efficient than others.
- The first proclaims the sovereignty of the State;
- the second recognizes no sort of sovereign.
- One wishes all monopolies to be held by the State;
- the other wishes the abolition of all monopolies.
- One wishes the governed class to become the governing class;
- the other wishes the disappearance of classes.
- Both declare that the existing state of things cannot last.
– The first considers revolutions as the indispensable agent of evolutions;
– the second teaches that repression alone turns political evolutions into revolution.
- The first has faith in a cataclysm;
- the second knows that social progress will result from the free play of individual efforts.
- One wishes that there should be none but proletariats;
- the other wishes that there should be no more proletariats.
- The first wishes to take everything away from everybody;
- the second wishes to leave each in possession of its own.
- The one wishes to expropriate everybody;
- the other wishes everybody to be a proprietor.
- The first says: Do as the government wishes;
- the second says: Do as you wish yourself.
- The former threatens with despotism;
- the latter promises liberty.
- The former makes the citizen the subject of the State;
- the latter makes the State the employee of the citizen.
- One proclaims that labor pains will be necessary to the birth of a new world;
- the other declares that real progress will not cause suffering to any one.
- The first has confidence in social war;
- the other believes only in works of peace.
- One aspires to command, to regulate, to legislate;
- the other wishes to attain the minimum of command, of regulation, of legislation.
- One would be followed by the most atrocious of reactions;
- the other opens unlimited horizons to progress.
- The first will fail;
- the other will succeed.
- One desires equality; the other seeks equity.
– The first by lowering heads that are too high;
– the other by raising heads that are too low.
- One sees equality under a common yoke;
- the other will secure equity in complete liberty.
- One is intolerant;
- the other tolerant.
- One frightens;
- the other reassures.
- The first wishes to instruct everybody;
- the second wishes to enable everybody to instruct one’s self.
- The first wishes to support everybody;
- the second wishes to enable everybody to support one’s self.
- One says:
– The land to the State
– The mine to the State
– The tool to the State
– The product to the State
- The other says:
– The land to the cultivator.
– The mine to the miner.
– The tool to the laborer.
– The product to the producer.
- One is the infancy of Socialism;
- the other is its manhood.
- One is already the past;
- the other is the future.
- One will give way to the other…
Based upon the writing of ~ Ernest Lesigne – Liberty V, 10 (December 17, 1887), No. 114, p. 5.