Socialism Misunderstood–It Means More Democracy, Not Less

Socialism is poorly understood in the US. What is crucially missed is that socialism means more democracy and freedom, not less.

Socialism, classically, means submitting the means of production to democratic control. If one wants to avoid the term “socialism,” because of its negative connotations in the US and elsewhere, one can simply refer to a Workers’ Democracy. As a writer in the Lowell “factory girls” publication¬†Voice of Industry (1848) once put it, “They who work in the mills ought to own them” [1].

Nearly a century’s worth of state propaganda regarding socialism emanating from the US and the USSR has intensely distorted the public understanding of the concept. Many associate it with state monopoly, authoritarian central planning, and a police state. If socialism meant any of these things, it should justly be discarded in the waste bin of history.imagine

But outside of state-issued propaganda, socialism has traditionally meant the opposite of these things: it has meant worker freedom and worker democracy. This is in contrast to both state and private authoritarianism, whether it goes under the propaganda labels of “democratic,” “capitalist,” or “socialist.”

For further discussion of this issue, see the interview of the editors of a new book on this matter, Imagine Living in a Socialist USA.


[1] Norman Ware, The Industrial Worker, 1990 (1924), 79.

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