Discover more from JoeWrote
The Case for Economic Democracy
Why I'm a Socialist, and why you should be too.
Recently, a friend asked why I call myself a Socialist. I answered: “Because I’m a small-d democrat, and I think you are too.” Allow me to explain my ideology in the hopes it persuades you, and those you interact with, to join me.
The majority of Americans believe in political democracy. Whether realized or subconscious, our inclination to democracy stems from our belief that people should have an equal say in the forces (i.e. local, state, and federal governments) that influence their lives. As the founders put it: “No taxation without representation!”
Ostensibly, the United States is a democracy: every adult citizen gets an equal vote in the government they live under. (I’d argue voter suppression, gerrymandering, and the undemocratic Senate make us a “flawed democracy,” but that’s a conversation for another time.) Most Americans want this system of governance and like the idea of a government for the people, by the people.
I’m a Socialist because I want full political democracy and economic democracy. I believe people should have a say in the governments and the economic institutions (businesses) that tell them how to live. If a boss fires a worker to cut costs, that worker no longer has any income to afford shelter, food, and clothing. In effect, they’ve been forced into desuetude by an unelected economic tyrant (the boss). I see little difference between this and a government sentencing a citizen to starve on the street, as both have the same effect. Or, if the boss drastically changes a worker’s hours, they now have to reorient their life because someone they didn’t elect dictates they be somewhere at a certain place at a certain time.
Piss off your stepdad. Subscribe to JoeWrote.
This may sound like routine life in a Capitalist society, but ask yourself: “What if a government treated you that way?” Imagine if a mayor/governor/president forced you to perform tasks in a warehouse from 9-5 five days a week, and gave you no say in making that decision. You’d probably call that person a tyrant. Now, recognize that is how your workplace operates.
Capitalists respond to this argument by saying: “Silly leftists, we need work to make the economy run. You complain about work, but you still drink Starbucks and eat avocado toast.”
Here’s where I agree with the capitalist. We do need work, as we have yet to reach the Star Trek-style post-scarcity utopia that would allow us to lounge all day while robots farm our fields and stock our shelves. People need to produce goods and services, just as they need to follow the laws of society. BUT (and here’s where we disagree), I believe people should have an equal vote in creating the rules of the economy they live in, just as they have an equal vote in creating the laws of the society they live in.
In essence, Socialists believe individuals should have a democratic say in every institution overseeing their lives, whether that be political or economic. Dictators are wrong, whether they rule countries or workplaces.
If you’d like to learn more about economic democracy, subscribe to JoeWrote and join The Democratic Socialists of America. All the cool kids are doing it.
The JoeWrote FunZone!
I made a Twitter thread on how The Office characters would react to a union drive. It’s good fun!
If you’d like to help people impacted by Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, I suggest donating to Doctors Without Borders. They’re brave, good people, and could use your help.