I thought that I’d written about this before. But maybe it was elsewhere. In any case, this article turned me on to the noncommutativity of the two concepts. Further, this paper helped me clarify why I’m more inclined to qualify democracy with socialism, rather than qualifying socialism with democracy.
While Liu contrasts democratic socialism against state/authoritarian socialism, he doesn’t go far enough toward Gintis’ implication that democracy is (what I’ll call) a government’s interaction with reality. Gintis’ claim is more specific, that democracy is how the polity holds the politician accountable. But as we’ve seen with Obama’s detritus (well identified by Liu) and the election of Trump, the relationship between the polity’s plaintive noise and what happens to the politicians that fail them is not at all clear or direct. Obama won’t be held accountable for his wimpy, COMPROMISED attempts. And while you might say the Democratic Party was held accountable, I still don’t buy it, even with vagaries added.
But I do believe that democracy is what allowed our polity to moan and complain loud enough, and vote a weirdo incompetent Trump into power. The election of Trump clearly demonstrates the disconnect between our previous politicians and the reality they’re attempting to govern. How/if/what they learn from their new knowledge of how decoupled they are is an open question.
But back to the point. I believe any fossilized socialism, whether it’s fossilized into laws, or bureaucracy, or party in power, or whatever, will always tend towards a decoupling from the reality it tries to govern. Liu relies on some democratic spice, sprinkled on top of the socialism to keep it in touch with reality. But I think we’ll see analogous failures in democratic socialism (DS) that we’ve seen in social democracy (SD). If the capitalists retain their elite status in SD, then the statists will retain their elite status in DS.
And, for myself, having (recently) matured out of neoliberalism, I’m much more comfortable with the noisy and chaotic (perhaps Schumpeterian) ecology of VCs, indie programmers, banksters, “entrepreneurs”, the gig economy, and multi-national corporations than I am with relying on fossilized infrastructure with a peppering of democratic spice.