The Difference Between Socialism and Social Democracy

hello zero book cheaters it's me again Douglas Lane and in this video I'll be considering the difference between socialism and social democracy I think it's an important distinction to make in this political moment when socialism is on everyone's lips and appears to be on the rise and we'll take a look at awesome job AIDS book the writing on the wall in order to clarify our options according to the dictionary social democracy is a socialist system of government achieved by democratic means while socialism is a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production distribution and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole but these dictionary definitions aren't really adequate they leave out the history of social democratic politics and theories they overlook how socialism grew to be associated first with Karl Marx and then with the Soviet Union and they ignore how Social Democrats broke with socialists in Germany and Russia in order to get a better understanding of the difference between a Marxist version of socialism and what's called social democracy let's start with an essay entitled Marxism versus social democracy written by the revolutionary socialists Bela Khan who was for a short time the leader of the first Hungarian People's Republic in 1919 and who managed to take power in Hungary by forming a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party only to later be held responsible for the failure of an attempted revolution in Germany and then in the 30s to be executed as a Trotskyists during the Great Purge Khan wrote the following quote the most dangerous falsification of Marx has not been open revisionism but the defense of Marxism by the Marxian Center under the leadership of that driest of peasants Karl Kautsky Pope of the second international this defense consisted in the abandonment of the most important theoretical positions of Marxism in favor of the revisionists and this was being done primarily on the issue which the revisionists put metaphysically as reform or revolution end quote but what did think Coski it– defenders of Marx were abandoning it's not easy to say cun lists key ideas from Marx without fully explicated them today for the majority who were unfamiliar with Marx's theories the mention of Marx's law of economic motion for example would barely register as a buzzword but for those sectarians who are familiar with Marx's theories on the commodity on value on price on capital accumulation in the rest the likelihood that comes conception of these categories is in accord with their own is minimal say could you tell me what yes comrade nothing nothing never mind the truth is that to interpret Marx today requires wading through a complicated and bloody history however it's not impossible we can for instance come to some understanding by reading what Marx actually wrote and in this case we can try to examine the terms from Marx that were perhaps a point of dispute between socialists and Social Democrats around the time of the failed German and Russian revolutions nothing must stand in the way of the onward march of democracy you have another one of your questions come at real key yeah just what do you mean by democracy miss Kraus well we mean ruled by the people what else rule by all of the people of course well then what uh textbooks mean by dictatorship of the proletariat dictatorship by one class a feint democracy those things would all be clear to anyone with a proper attitude but the truth don't change according to somebody's attitude there's only one kind of truth that is the Communist Party truth as seen by Marx Lenin and Stalin the purpose of the dictatorship of the proletariat once established was to first suppress the Buju estate and then to manage the needs of the proletariat as they took hold of developed and transformed the quote mode of production in quote marks wrote that after labour has become not only a means of life but life's prime want after the productive forces have increased with the all-around development of the individual and all the springs of cooperative wealth flow more abundantly society would be run in accordance to this maxim from each according to his ability to each according to his needs in such a situation the role of the so called dictatorship of the proletariat would cease to be political and become technical the role of the state would be to oversee the shipment of goods to facilitate communication to assist in the organization of production in the Soviet Union no such transformation took place how could Kahn champion Marx's ideas from within that Soviet Union when linen his economists such as prio Burzynski and then Stalin all had to admit that the law of value and with it capitalist production was still in effect how did he manage to side with Marx and his theories when doing so meant risking siding with Mensheviks and other deviation as' who argued that the Soviet Union itself was merely a form of state capitalism and thus Bolshevik Party members were no more revolutionary than the old LaSalle ian's Wood also argued for a slow transition to socialism through the implementation of state policies how could he have watched 10 and then 20 years pass after the Revolution 10 then 20 years when the state was not dismantled as Marxist theories suggested was necessary and not suspect that somewhere along the line the opportunity to obtain socialism had been missed there were some people in the Soviet Union who at least tried to imagine what the transformation of the means of production could lead to in a recent conversation with the working class artist Carrie tap he told me about one of them a composer named arseny Abramoff however Moff wanted to create music with factories and he wrote music that was meant to be performed on industrial instruments and on an industrial scale his symphony was sirens for instance created a great noise that if history had worked out differently might have announced the arrival of socialism and I worried that this idea of a symphony of factories might seem a little abstract in utopian I think about what the revolutionaries from the past those people who really struggled might think about this idea what would linen say if he could hear me now would he call me an infant of course linen vehemently opposed the social democratic tendency that formed around Karl Kautsky after 1914 but what was the basis of this disagreement it was I think mostly a tactical disagreement that is a disagreement about what sort of activity was permissible whether the suspension of bourgeois law was tolerable whether the imperative to maintain democracy and socialist organizations precluded the use of revolutionary violence and so on but both cough Sookie and linens seemed to have lost sight of the need for the workers to transform the mode of production first to take material power up for themselves first they both ended up believing that socialism could be achieved even as labour continued to be exploited even as commodity production dictated the terms of social life and today every Leninists points to the critique of the Gotha program to justify this position but in the Gotha program Marx wrote that socialism would be from the start a cooperative society based on common ownership of the means of production within which the producers would not exchange their products and just as little with labour employed on the products appear there as a value of those products if the goal was to implement a new phase of capitalist production a socialist phase of it why bother with revolution regardless of whether radical socialists take Marx to be advocating for a socialist state he wasn't or whether they think that socialism requires a radical break and change and not only our political institutions but also our material or productive relations it does there is another difference between radical socialists of both types and Social Democrats in today's moment when there is no revolutionary workers movement to speak up when the idea of revolution seems both antiquated and like something out of a fairy tale radical socialists don't have a political project of their own while Social Democrats do have a political project in his book the writing on the wall the zero books author ultram shopay argued that far from the lack of a politics being a problem socialists today need to accept that they don't have a political project and realize that this is what makes their effort radical he said quote faced with this desire to play the game and almost always as a representative of some interest movements and moments of radical opposition that embraced anti politics should be recalled from the historical anarchists the artistic avant-garde and the continuous state of insubordination in Italian factories during the 1970s it seems to me that this desire to escape from the game to develop a passed through anti politics and resistance is no longer really tenable in this age of Trump even if we don't agree with the policies and the platforms of the Social Democrats even if we think the Social Democrats don't go far enough aren't material enough we should remember that the history of Marxism was fought within Social Democratic parties and with the rise of these new Social Democrats we may have a stage on which to fight them again thanks for watching this zero books video if you enjoyed it subscribe to this channel and click on the notification spell so that you'll be alerted whenever we release a new video you should also consider supporting us on patreon our patrons get access to our inside zero books podcast every week and can get access to the zero books Book Club and help us to continue making online content from the left

  1. No such thing as a working class artist. Contradiction of terms. I come from art. I left from art. Zero in on this please. Non art, capitalist pyramid. Dead artist equals capital. Capitalist art equals art context. Fucking correct me. All systems tend toward corruption.

  2. Lenin a "socdem"?


  3. both russia and spain had anarchist, marxist and soc dem movements and i really think we need to have all 3 to spur the masses(working class) into revolution

  4. You missed an important voice in the debate at the time, that of Rosa Luxembourg. Her critique of the social democratic project undertaken then and opposition to Lenin in important aspects of revolution is critically important if we are to understand the debate you discuss here.

    I'm an anarchist. I think Marxist theory has lots to offer in understanding Capitalism. It will be great asset in revolutionary struggle to abolish Capitalism. But when it's come to what comes after that I will be extremely suspicious of Marxist because of the nature of the theory, it's celebration of the individual who first articulated the theory, placing them on pedestals, building the army of followers dedicated to the prophet are all authoritarian tendancies within Marxism and the history of last century certainly shows that at least it's there. No more bullshit about capturing the state, establishing dictatorship of proletariat to facilitate the transformation to socialism. Revolution, doesn't matter it happens by force or democratic means, is not over until we overthrow Capitalism and the State, yes when Capitalism goes State will also go, we don't trust anyone with power of the State, and finally all the decisions making powers and control of any remaining institution capable of violence is transferred to the people at the bottom, to democratic assemblies of communities, not to party leaders and party intellectuals, they can give all the speeches they want and write about their visions of socialism but the decisions will be taken by the people.

    I kind of don't understand this frustration Marxist have about lack of theory on how to transform to socialism and how a socialist society will be formed. The radical left has a political project it is dismantle every form of authority and institutions that are unjust and especially the ones enforced by violence or the threat of violence. When we reach a point where people are able to freely, as equal partners, without any coercion decide what kind of a society they want to build. These decisions will be made in free democratic assemblies in communities not in any constituent assembly. That's real socialism. If you articulate the social organisation after the revolution based on some theory and impose that one people, that's not socialism, that's tyranny. We have to start all this by reclaiming the word democracy, socialism is the purest form of democracy, not this reality show of elections and political drama going on the capitals.

  5. I largely agree with your conclusion. But what kind of socialism do you want to reintroduce? Are you advocating a return to Marxist-Leninism? A re-imagining of socialism a la Zizek? Libertarian socialism? Maoism? You addressed the problem of the dictatorship of the proleteriat, but you did not talk about whether it is valid. And I know you addressed this obliquely with the discussion of the Soviet Union, but the crucial question in my mind is: was 20th century communism a failure? Do we disavow it or not? (I'm partial to yes we do disavow it)

  6. Is it pedantic to say Soviet communism was not even state socialism? I think not. Communism in 20th century praxis has been anti-socialism and anti-communist. The power has always been grabbed by a few = the antithesis of social democracy. State socialism has similarly been corrupted in many countries, from Tito to Castro and Chavez, and even in the Nordic social democracies, the mass of working people wield very little power. We all know why – it is because all of these 20th century versions of (faux) social democracy have been mere thin veneers papering over capitalist production organization – whether state capitalist or private capitalist. We are yet to see any country operating by valid social democratic principles and praxis, and I think when we do it will blow our minds at how peaceful, harmonious and efficient such a political economy can be. And f__k the anti-politicals and anarchists, they are not our best allies, they are as selfish, narrow-minded and greedy as libertarians. I mean, we do not have to hate them, but gaddamn f__k their cynical miserable ideologies!

  7. Trotsky would have argued for a united front against Trump, and against the troubling rise of fascism across Europe. A slap in the face is always better than a kick in the bollocks.

  8. those who never lived under socialism don't know that in the end it was always run by capitalist personal-hopefuls

  9. Is there no distinction between ‘Social-Democrat’ and ‘Democratic-Socialist’?
    You used the ‘DSA’ logo when you referred to Marxism vs SocDem, but from my understanding, DemSoc and SocDem have very specific differences. Isn’t DemSoc based on a Marxist understanding, whereas SocDem is like Scandinavia (i.e. social programmes within a capitalist framework) ???

  10. Is that an acoustic version of that one Vaporwave song playing in the background??? What the heck, man
    Edit: yes. Yes it is.

  11. I subsist as an artist, and I exist far from the academic sphere. I am often confused by these videos yet find the Zero Books channel very interesting nonetheless… Can anyone explain to me the problem with Social Democracy in a more simplistic manner? To me it seems that securing housing, healthcare, a living wage and basic human dignity would be quite a triumph. The Soviet Union scares me. I understand that Social Democracy may reinforce capitalism in the sense that the fundamental dynamics of capitalism would remain at play but with some "niceties" granted to the proletariat (Perhaps merely in order to placate them and maintain some semblance of capitalist status quo) But is bloody revolution really the answer? How can we assure that those atop the revolutionary hierarchy won't reproduce the conditions of capitalism but with new clothes so to speak? Sorry, entire bottle of wine deep at this point and perhaps my English skills are lacking as I live in Africa. I think there should be maximum wage as there is minimum wage. I think workers should own some shares in the company's they work for and have some agency regarding corporate direction. But I am confused regarding the ultimate goal of a "pure" socialist as opposed to a social democrat. I am attempting to acknowledge my ignorance regarding this and hoping someone can assist me. I see a lot of criticism of Bernie Sanders in the comments and I don't quite understand why. Sure, he isn't perfect but is there a better option at this point? I hope someone can help me understand. Cheers

  12. Do people even realize that new deal policies are 100 years old? Why the hell do we have to go back to that?

  13. Well what would you say about communist parties that run candidates in elections. That happens here in Canada, albeit a very small percentage but still. Would you regard say the CPC of Canada to be social democrats?

  14. The Red Flag is still flying throughout East Asia. Only western (social-democratic/anarchist-trotskyite) "anti-revisionist" Marxists claim that actually existing socialism in East Asia isn't actually socialism, since claiming otherwise requires the western-Marxist to "self-flagellate" after coming to the realization that they exist as an exploitative rentier class within the global market-economy.

  15. You briefly mentioned "anti-politics" at the end of the video in reference to Jappe's book. I'm not sure what you/Jappe mean by this. What does "anti-politics" mean here?

  16. There's no evidence that true utopian socialism is achievable. Why not just side with social democrats or left leaning state capitalists? There are so many global problems that must be solved in the near-term, wouldn't it be simpler to put the utopian socialist project on the back burner in order to focus on more concrete goals related to climate change, poverty, a stable international order, some kind of global governance etc.?

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