By the time I actually came out as queer, nobody blinked an eye. For my personal circumstances, being non-Christian probably raises more eyebrows than being queer. I am, after all, within driving distance of the world’s largest LGBT-friendly church. But neither of those identities has had a significant negative impact on my social life. The places where those identities would keep me out generally aren’t places I’d want to be anyway.
What I’m about to say here, however, I feel some trepidation about. I suspect there are people in my life who will not take this well and might even stop talking to me. But, as is often the case with these things, I feel like I can no longer stay silent, so here goes.
Hi. I’m Danielle, and I’m a socialist.
What this doesn’t mean
This doesn’t mean I hate America. I want this country and the people in it to prosper. It’s just that I no longer believe capitalism is the system best positioned to make that happen.
This also doesn’t mean that I endorse everything done by a government with “socialist” in its name somewhere. I’m no bigger fan of, say, Joseph Stalin’s worst excesses than the most ardent capitalist is.
Most importantly, this doesn’t mean I have all the answers about every detail of socialist thought, or what a future socialist society might look like. But I’m learning more all the time.
What this does mean
There’s a lot of confusion about what socialism means, so I’d like to clear some of that up. Socialism is simply collective ownership and democratic control of the means of production. We already have this on a smaller scale with things like worker cooperatives, in which the workers own the business and have a say in how the business is run. For a larger example, check out the Mondragon Corporation, which is in Spain’s Basque Country.
By contrast, trickle-down economics is based on the idea that if you place as few restrictions as possible on rich people making money, that money will eventually “trickle down” to less wealthy people. However, a simple glance at income data over the past few decades shows this to be demonstrably false. Although there are more billionaires than ever before, it’s also true that for most working people, wages have stagnated since the 1970s. Even worse, workers’ productivity has steadily increased while their pay hasn’t.
I see the current state of affairs as the logical outcome of a system where the primary goal is maximizing shareholder profit. The ownership classes leverage their power disparity to squeeze more and more out of their employees. Hell, now they’re likely as not to be contractors, i.e., employees without benefits or meaningful job security.
Under a socialist system, since employees are also owners, there’s no need for this adversarial relationship. Businesses are still doing the best thing for those owners, but in this case, the owners have some skin in the game, which is not the case for many companies, and certainly not publicly-traded ones.
Since everybody has a chance to contribute, it doesn’t make any sense to marginalize people based on their race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, etc. Everyone should be accorded a certain basic level of dignity. I’ll expand on this in future posts.
I don’t know yet how we’ll get there, but I’m not going to let that stop me from advocating for what I think is best. Things have gotten to the point where staying silent feels worse than my anxiety at not having all the answers. If you’ve felt like you’re struggling to get ahead and not getting anywhere, maybe the problem isn’t you.
I know this will be a hot button issue, so I want to say at the outset that any disrespectful comments will be deleted. Respectful comments are welcome.