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Über dieses Buch

This book discusses socialism and democracy. It approaches socialism not as a label but as an ideology. Based on a careful examination of what socialism is, traced back to Karl Marx, this book explains the tense relationship between socialism and democracy and how it has influenced political thought and practice in both Europe and America. This book carefully avoids conventional wisdom, seeking instead to originate its definition and analysis of socialism in its political theory and practice. Building on the relationship between socialism and democracy, the book explores how this uneasy roommate agreement may affect America’s future.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Defining Socialism

Abstract
Socialism can be defined in two ways: as an ideology based on property-rights infringements or as an ideology based on economic redistribution. History has labeled the former version “communism” and the latter “democratic socialism,” less often “the welfare state.” These two definitions of socialism share one common ideological end goal, namely the elimination of economic differences between individual citizens. Rather than being separate, the two definitions represent different political methodologies for reaching the socialist ideological end goal. The property-rights definition, a.k.a., communism, cannot coexist with a democratic government; the redistributive definition, a.k.a., democratic socialism, is at least theoretically compatible with parliamentary democracy.
Sven R. Larson

Economics of Socialism 1: Prices vs. Labor Value

Abstract
Socialism cannot be properly understood without a foundation in Marxist economic theory. This theory differs fundamentally from mainstream economic theory in its definition of economic value. In practice, the difference between the two theories is a difference between a centrally planned economy and its free-market alternative, a difference that is determined by Marxism using labor hours, not market prices, as the definition of value. By necessity, this value definition requires a very different model for the allocation of economic resources than what is the case under a price-based value theory. To function, Marxist economics requires central economic planning and motivates the termination of private property as part of its political method.
Sven R. Larson

Economics of Socialism 2: Planning vs. The Market

Abstract
The property-rights-based, Leninist definition of socialism operates based on an orthodox application of Marxist economic theory. Its labor-value theory excludes economic exchange under market prices, and therefore any form of government promoting such. By contrast, the redistributive, democratic definition of socialism has been economically more successful. It retains free-market prices for microeconomic allocation of resources. There is, however, a tension between microeconomic, free-market resource allocation, and macroeconomic redistribution. The challenge for democratic socialism is to apply their political method while maintaining an economic advantage over the Leninist socialist method and its teleological central planning.
Sven R. Larson

From Strife to Spring

Abstract
One of the most conspicuous applications of socialism took place in the Soviet Union and its satellite states in Eastern Europe. It was a period during the twentieth century characterized by conflict and tensions; on at least three occasions, reactions to the Leninist form of government led to widespread debates over socialism in both theory and practice. The first was the Prague Spring, the duration of which was an experiment in how to milden the application of Leninist socialism; the second was the account of Soviet oppression in The Gulag Archipelago; the third was the Charta 77 human rights movement in Czechoslovakia. However, even the democratic form of socialism has seen its tense moments, as exemplified by Sweden in the 1980s.
Sven R. Larson

The American Welfare State Today

Abstract
It is often said that America is not a socialist country. However, socialist policies have been practiced here since the 1930s and are perhaps more prevalent today than ever before. They do not come in the form that most opponents to socialism would suggest, namely efforts by government to seize control over private enterprises. Instead, socialism in America exhibits its presence in mundane government spending programs such as Social Security, Medicaid and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Notably, there is widespread ideological consensus around the practice of socialism under the redistributive definition.
Sven R. Larson

The American Welfare State Tomorrow

Abstract
Based on a détente, even alliance, between apparently rivaling ideologies over the welfare state, it is imperative to ask what America’s future will look like. Our government is defined by its commitment to the practice of democratic socialism, a.k.a., the welfare state. Therefore, America’s future is subject to the economic stagnation that the welfare state slowly brings about. Since the welfare state is a system of fiscal institutions, the question of America’s future has to center on the economy and the ability of government to fund its welfare state. Its continued expansion will require extraordinary funding methods, the risks of which have not made any inroads yet into the American political discourse.
Sven R. Larson

Backmatter

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