Socialism is often conflated with authoritarianism. But historically, socialists have been among democracy’s staunchest advocates.
A generation of Americans has been taught that the Cold War was one fought between freedom and tyranny, with the outcome decisively won in favor of democratic capitalism. Socialism, of all stripes, was conflated with the crimes of the Soviet Union and doomed to the trash heap of bad ideas.
Yet many socialists were consistent opponents of authoritarianism of both left and right varieties. Marx himself understood that only by the power of their democratic numbers could workers create a socialist society. To that end, the Communist Manifesto ends with a clarion call for workers to win the battle for democracy against aristocratic and reactionary forces.
Legions of socialists followed this path, ardently defending political and civil rights, while also fighting to democratize control over economic and cultural life through expanded social rights and workplace democracy. Despite the common assertion that “capitalism equals democracy,” capitalists themselves, absent the pressure from an organized working class, have never supported democratic reforms. .............................READ MORE