These are good policy ideas and I support them, but are a pretty thin, uninspiring version of…

Michael Nau on 2017-02-12

These are good policy ideas and I support them, but are a pretty thin, uninspiring version of socialism. If socialism means public ownership, then these proposals don’t really get the job done — our economy would continue to produce IPO billionaires. Socialist economies shouldn’t do that.

But in any case, mere public ownership or “collective ownership” under government supervision is also not good enough. The USSR did a lot of great things, but a central problem was that its system was defined in terms of public ownership rather than industrial democracy. This was the case with Sweden too: the Meidner plan was about wealth redistribution and did not really challenge hierarchies within organizations. Under both systems, the bosses remained the bosses. A 21st century vision of socialism needs to have radical democracy at its core.

So while I like the article and support these policies, we shouldn’t sell socialism short by characterizing it as attainable through a few center-left policy tweaks. Building socialism will be messy and require a mass movement for radical democracy that directly challenges the bosses. Policies that appropriate private wealth are of course necessary but not sufficient.