What would a Socialist (Socialist Party, USA) America be like?

I’ve already started threads on:

What would a Libertarian America be like?

What would a Green America be like?

What would an America First America be like? (Pat Buchanan’s paleoconservative America First Party)

What would a Constitution Party (religious-right) America be like?

As you will see, I’m trying to box the whole compass of American third-party politics.

Next: Socialism. Some background is necessary here. The United States is unique in being the only modern industrialized state where no socialist, social-democratic or labor-based party has ever emerged as a major player in national politics. The reasons why are analyzed in It Didn’t Happen Here, by Seymour Martin Lipset and Gary Marks (discussed here.) The result being, Americans in general are much less sophisticated than other industrial nations’ peoples about socialist politics. What’s more, our history of socialist politics is rather different than any other country’s anyway.

Thumbnail summary: The Socialist Party of America was founded in 1901 by a merger of the Social Democratic Party with the Socialist Labor Party of America. When the Bolsheviks came to power in Russia in 1917, there was an internal split in the Socialist Party of America. The pro-Bolsheviks were expelled and formed, eventually, the Communist Party, USA. The remaining Socialist Party of America remained anti-Soviet throughout its existence, holding the Bolsheviks had perverted socialism by taking power by force and by abandoning electoral democracy. (The Trotskyists, who had their own grudges against the Soviet Union, later formed a different party in the U.S. – several, actually.) Finally, in 1972, the Socialist Party of America broke up over the issue of whether to oppose or support the U.S. in the Vietnam War (i.e., necessary element of the fight against the Soviet Union, or just another instance of capitalist imperialism?). The pro-war faction went on to form the Social Democrats, USA. The much larger antiwar faction, led by Michael Harrington, formed the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee, which later became the Democratic Socialists of America;* and the Socialist Party, USA.* The principal differences between the DSA and the SPUSA are (1) the DSA has a much larger number of active members; (2) the SPUSA actually runs candidates for office, while the DSA eschews this and functions purely as an “educational” organization; (3) the Socialist International includes both the DSA and the Social Democrats, USA, as full member parties.

With that introduction I pose the question: What would America be like if the Socialist Party, USA, were to win the presidency, a majority in both houses of Congress and of all state legislatures, etc? (IOW, I’m not proposing to debate here what America would be like under any particular ideal conception of socialism or communism, but only what it would be like under the leadership of that particular political party.)

Here are the party’s principles and platform. As you will see, what they envision for America is something more radical than what you’ll find anywhere in Europe, but OTOH bears little resemblance to anything you’ll find in Cuba or North Korea.

*I’m a member of both the DSA and the SPUSA. At least we’re not a bunch of fucking splitters!

Well those principles sure do sound like nice things and I’m sure no good-hearted person would ever disagree with them. However, if we do get a Socialist USA, I’m afraid that, all good intentions aside, it would devolve into something very similar to Cuba or North Korea.

Of course, it’s a matter of degree and time. If the Socialists wanted to be moderate about it, it might not be that awful or go downhill that quickly. And there would be regional diffferences anyway.

But we could surely say goodby to the economic engine that has produced millions of jobs and done an amazing job of reducing poverty, not only in the US but also worldwide.

For info on recent stats on US economic growth and how it helps the poor click below:

BTW, I recent your snippy comment about how us Americans are not as sophisticated as Europeans. I know plenty about Socialists. I used to be one. I live in a sea of them. The main difference between me and them is that for them history started in 1965 and learning ended in 1970.

And this unsophisticated American is smart enough to cut back on production at my business if there’s nothing in it for me to produce more. The less people work, the less there is to dish out. And that hurts everyone, but it hurts poor people most of all.

Only about socialist politics, and it wasn’t meant to be snippy, merely an important and relevant historical fact. I don’t think most Americans, nor even most Dopers, are already familiar with the basic story outlined in the OP.

This one doesn’t have to be quite as speculative as the others, because socialist governments have come to power in other places and we can gauge their performance.

Basically, the way I see it is that you’d see a stock market crash almost immediately, and a ton of capital flight out of the control. Industries would be nationalized, new government agencies started, and things would slowly start going to hell. Taxes would be increased dramatically, further slowing growth. Unions would gain more power, and eventually begin striking for better pay and working conditions. People would clamor for more restrictions on business, and for more benefits for workers.

The result might look something like Germany or France, except on a much bigger scale. 10%+ unemployment, economic stagnation, more government corruption, lower productivity as people demand shorter work weeks and more vacations, etc. The economic would be less dynamic, with less choice for consumers. There would eventually be shortages and gluts of product in whatever industries the government tried to micro-manage.

The real disaster would be worse than if a smaller country like Germany went socialist, because the U.S. economy has been there to prop up the smaller ones by providing markets and cash. The U.S. drug industry still does lots of research when drug industries in more regulated countries have collapsed. But if the U.S. goes down economically, it’ll take the world with it, and we’ll be in a worldwide recession.

Socialism doesn’t work. The degree to which the economy would take a serious hit depends on how much socialism you really try to implement. The more control the government takes, the worse the effects will be.

The country will become more authoritarian, as well. Because black markets will spring up and have to be policed. Regulations will have to be enforced. More inspections required. More government paperwork. Etc.

Your best outcome is you end up like us civilized Canadians, with socialized health care and whatnot.

Canada is nowhere near to being a socialist country. Most of our social programs, tax structure, and regulation of business is very, very similar to the U.S. Public health care being the major exception.

Couldn’t the government subsidize drug research? I don’t think innovation is neccesarily going to stagnate under socialism.

Why do I feel like I am reading a wiki at wikipedia when I read the OP?

I think the other countries would first mock us, then invade for the sheer ease and novelty of it. “Hey! I just took over the USA after they shut down their military and confiscated all civilian weapons! And it was easy. You wanna go at it?”

Exactly. It’s the best result the Americans (or anyone on Earth, really) could hope for. :smiley:

It’s not just about money. It’s about competition forcing innovation. You can set up the biggest state bureau you want, and it won’t be as innovative as a market full of companies working hard to claw away market share from each other.

It’s interesting how people complain about the greedy for-profit drug companies, they only produce drugs to make a profit, not to help people. And yet just about every European country has universal health care. If public funding of drug research was such a good idea, why don’t European countries routinely come out with more effective drugs?

Innovation always stagnates under socialism. It’s not that any individual state-owned factory or state owned industry must be less effective than a private factory. Almost everyone who has worked for private companies has seen staggering incompetance and waste, just like in government work. It’s just that state owned industries aren’t allowed to fail. Really poorly run companies eventually fail, effectively run companies prevail.

Publicly owned industries are often immune from criticism, because they can always shift their arguments for why they should exist. They don’t have to make a profit, because they aren’t supposed to make a profit. But since government-owned facilities don’t exist to make a profit, there’s usually no method of determining whether they are doing a good job or not. Are they supposed to provide jobs? Provide goods/services at a low or subsidized price? Guarantee that some good or service is always available, not under the control of foreigners or profiteers, no matter what it costs the public? Provide a source of patronage that can be handed out by the party? Create a system for siphoning public money into bank accounts in the Cayman Islands? Provide bread and circuses to the masses to prevent riots?

Could we have "Sewer Socialism?’ That’s what Milwaukee had for most of the first half of the 20th C. Probably the best era in the city’s history.

I consider the USA to be socialist-but less so than Sweden. In my visits to sweden, it seems that Sweden has entrepreneurs and millionaires-in spite of high taxes and stifling regulations. The USA, despite high taxes and very visible regulation, still has massive poverty. My guess is; if the USA stopped being policeman to the world, we could have most of what Sweden has now-clean streets, less poverty, and lower taxation. I would LOVE to see some of the $500 billion (that we blow annually in Iraq), get spent here-we might find that modern streets and clean paks are worthwhile.

Do you always vote one or the other of these parties, or do you ever vote Democratic as a stand against the even more rightist party?

How did it end? Sewer-cide?
:smiley:

:confused: Could you please name a country that isn’t, by your standards? AFAIK, this is the most capitalistic, free-market, economic-libertarian industrialized country on Earth (except maybe for post-Invasion Iraq following Paul Bremer’s neocon shock therapy).

I always vote Democrat, even on the rare occasions where there’s a Socialist on the ballot. For obvious reasons. Don’t want to waste my vote. We need electoral laws more favorable to a multiparty system, but you’ve got to vote based on how things are now. (By the way, you can’t “vote for” the DSA, which is not a “party” and does not run candidates; the SPUSA does.)

Only on the Stalinist model. The viability of any form democratic socialism has yet to be field-tested. (Watch for forthcoming developments in Latin America, where elected socialist or social-democratic parties are on the rise.)

What’s wrong with that?

No, that would be Green America.