Socialism: Can the US Learn From Scandinavia?

Learning Democracy - John Dewey

Read this:  At a recent democratic debate Bernie Sanders suggested “America should look to countries like Denmark, like Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they have accomplished for their working people.”  That damned socialism thing again.  And of course Hillary Clinton seemed to dismiss Sanders’ view saying: “What Senator Sanders is saying certainly makes sense in the terms of the inequality that we have. But we are not Denmark. I love Denmark. We are the United States of America.”  I wonder what she means here.

Of course Sanders was emphasizing that he believes in “a society where all people do well. Not just a handful of billionaires.” I hope Hilary believes that as well although she doesn’t clarify.  The attached interview from Moyers and Company discusses these issues while referencing comments by journalist Ann Jones describes in another Moyers interview “After Living in Norway, America Seems Backward“. We must remember that many of our most treasured programs in the USA are very much socialistic.  Things like Social Security, Medicare, the VA, etc., and yet we cringe at the very mention of the word. Moyers article notes that one of the most liked Facebook comments related to this came from Beverly Dancy, who wrote: “Americans have this streak of false pride. We believe we have it better than everyone else, everywhere else and it just isn’t true. Why NOT look at what is working well in other places and apply it here…what is there to lose? Oh right, that false pride that, we are No.1!” As another user cynically said, “Yes, we are number one … Number one in military spending and the percentage of our population that we incarcerate.”  We should be so proud.

The article goes on asking is the USA a “Successful Democratic Experiment or Utopian Fantasy?”  Many agree with Sanders, “that the United States should consider adopting some of Europe’s economic policies. “The laboratory of Europe and Scandinavia has already proven that Democratic socialism works better in providing a better life with less stress, less crime, more financial security and more happiness than other democracy experiments, even the American one… People like Bernie Sanders are America’s only hope and therefore must be vigorously supported.”  You begin to “Feel the Bern”.

It really comes down to what kind of democracy we want, how much effort we are willing to invest and most of all who is to really be in charge – we the people or (as things are currently) the elite.  Sadly, we (and Bernie) must remember that the “US is NOT a social democracy, we have a Republican form of government based on a very unique Constitution focused on the value of the INDIVIDUAL” (often synonymous with the elite).  This is a major part of our difficulty, although many (Paul Ryan and Ayn Rand) are obviously very happy the way things are.

What do we really want?


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