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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 its citizens.

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 social democracy.

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 great nation.

Ballots are the ammunition for this generation, cast by an army of awakened patriots.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization, and chairman of Sovereignty International.

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