The Differences Between Democratic-Socialism & Socialism, & Benefits of Both


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Contrary to popular leftist propositions, there is no difference between socialism and so-called “democratic socialism.”

Actually, there is one difference: semantics. Fundamentally? Zero difference. Nevertheless, it’s in its proponent’s best interests to convince people otherwise and, sadly, they have.

A quote from one of history’s most celebrated economists, Dr. Thomas Sowell, encapsulates perfectly the reason that socialists, like Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), attempt to convince people of distinctions: “Socialism in general has a record of failure so blatant that only an intellectual could ignore or evade it.”

One cannot blame them. With an undeniable record of consistent, catastrophic failures that socialism has and its notoriously high death count, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to persuade people to advocate for it.

The fact socialism is presently being advocated for, despite its rich and vivid history of failure, is one of today’s most significant problems. Taking a brief look at the history of the 20th century will reveal a plethora of reasons not to embrace socialism.

However, countries around the world are viewing socialist practices positively, and a resurgence is happening here in the United States, especially among millennials. Even worse, the vast majority of millennial supporters don’t even know what they support.

The famous saying, “Those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it,” is especially relevant here.

So, What is Socialism?

Socialism is an economic and political system in which the means of production are collectively owned by the public, i.e. the State. Resources are allocated (incompetently) via a government-run, top-down, central planning committee, which regulates the what, where, when, price, and production volumes. In a socialist country, individuals depend on the government for their livelihood. With how terrible government-run anything is, it’s not shocking to find out that it does a terrible job of fulfilling citizens’ livelihoods.

Socialism is the opposite of freedom— an American principle.

What is “Democratic-Socialism?”

According to the Democratic-Socialists of America’s (DSA) website, “…[W]e share a vision… on democratic planning and market mechanisms to achieve equitable distribution of resources…” Further, “… [W]e are committed to ensuring that any market is the servant of the public good and not its master… not only democratic control over economic life… Free markets or private charity cannot provide adequate public goods and services.”

Ignoring the economic illiteracy of the DSA, their “preamble” affirms the previous assertion involving semantics. Nonetheless, both ideas remain fundamentally identical. They both want to:

  1.    Replace private property rights with state (public) ownership;
  2.    Abolish capitalism and the free market;
  3.    Seize and redistribute wealth and resources;
  4.    Have state-controlled means of production;
  5.    Take away self-determination and individual freedoms.

These are not exhaustive but are sufficient for the discussion.

As if putting “democratic” before “socialism” makes it any less socialist, advocates claim democracy will play a vital role. Willfully or not, advocates ignore the fact that socialist countries elected their leaders democratically, who then consolidated power. Venezuela elected Hugo Chavez in 1998, and Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party won a plurality of seats in the Reichstag of 1933. Both then proceeded to install dictatorships. As history has shown, socialist countries are anything but democratic.


Socialism is destructive and immoral. To achieve its ends, it uses coercion and enacts fallacious thinking – because a majority votes for something, the act is moral. Theft is still theft, regardless if the majority votes for it.

Socialism takes away individual freedoms by abolishing private property rights and redistributing wealth, which effectively discourages production and results in lower economic outputs. Within centrally planned economies, there are no competitors, which lowers product quality and stifles innovation.

Due to the government owning and allocating resources, there is no standard for failing industries, and there is no need to be useful or efficient. This results in the inefficient allocation of scarce resources and waste.

In a free-market economy, prices allocate resources to where they will be used efficiently. If no one is buying a product, a company has two decisions, improve or go bankrupt. If they advance, the resources will be used more efficiently, and if they go bankrupt, the funds will move to alternative uses. This cycle repeats itself.

For comparison, using Venezuela and the United States, one can see the detriments of socialism. In 2016 and 2017, despite being one of the most resource-rich countries in the world, Venezuela’s economy shrank by 16.50% and 14%, respectively. In 2017, the US economy grew more in dollar amounts than the entire economy of Venezuela is worth.

Adding “democratic” in front of socialism doesn’t make it moral or practical. Socialism, no matter how it is labeled, will always fail.

Mackenzie Bettle graduated from Arizona State's W.P. Carey School of Business with a Bachelor's in business law, summa cum laude, and is currently pursuing his Juris Doctorate at Seton Hall University. He loves business, politics, economics, law, football, and his two fluffy Havanese dogs, Jack and Kobe.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.

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About Mackenzie Bettle

Arizona State University

Mackenzie Bettle graduated from Arizona State's W.P. Carey School of Business with a Bachelor's in business law, summa cum laude, and is currently pursuing his Juris Doctorate at Seton Hall University. He loves business, politics, economics, law, football, and his two fluffy Havanese dogs, Jack and Kobe.

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