When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child (1 Corinthians 13:11). Today, I write to inform me in the future of my present day life, how I was shaped and reshaped by socialist thoughts and practices. This letter intends to advance my opinion that to reject the relevance of Socialism and its ideals is to suggest that equality, social democracy, the role of the state and the sustenance of the economy by socialist principles, are no longer legitimate. “Socialism stands to communalism as capitalism stands to slavery” (Nkrumah, 1967). For this reason, the closest ideology to me is Socialism. Many have argued that individuals must be rewarded based on their efforts. Due to this assertion, critics fiercely reject the socialist belief in social justice and equality, saying that promoting welfare state creates a ‘culture of dependency. This argument moved Charles Murray to advance that, as welfare relieves women of dependency on ‘breadwinning’ men, it is a major cause of family break-down, creating an under- class largely composed of single mothers and fatherless children (Heywood, 1992). Well, as far as I know, my admiration and respect for social democracy will answer these challenges.
To make clear what attracts me to socialism, I will first define Socialism.
“Socialism can be, and is, the defense of the principles of communalism in a modern setting; it is a form of social organization that, guided by the principles underlying communalism, adopts procedures and measures made necessary by demographic and technological developments” (Nkrumah, 1967).
To this end, one may wonder how such a society can be achieved. To me, it is through evolutionary means, as Beatrice Webb, Sidney Webb and Kwame Nkrumah saw the wisdom in accepting the liberal theory of the state as an arbiter, rather than the Marxist belief that it is an agent of class oppression (Heywood, 1992). I am highly convinced that social democracy can be achieved through this process of nonviolence, as exemplified by Nkrumah and Gandhi.
How then do I view equality? I am bent on building a society defined by strong belief in equality of outcome. Why is this necessary? I believe that social equality upholds justice. Unlike liberals, I hold that the prevalent inequalities in societies are a result of unequal treatment by the society. This assertion opposes the idea that such inequalities are due to unequal endowment by nature. For this reason, I demand that people are treated equally by the societal structures in which they live. With equality, I believe that one develops a strong and unfailing spirit of community and cooperation, rather than competition. Assume people live in equal social circumstances; it is likely to be identified with one another and work closely together for common benefit. This theory upholds social solidarity- the very virtue which every economic bloc seeks to strengthen. Interestingly, the opposite of social inequality is the rise of conflicts and instability, and I hate this. With equality, everyone survives and thrives with satisfaction and fulfillment. Do we save the economy by allowing the poor to die? I have believed that the despised and disadvantaged in society must be catered for by urgent measures, as expressed by John M. Keynes. Social democracy, to me, is the healthy basis for human survival.
With democracy, I believe in developing and taming my socialist ideals naturally and peacefully through a combination of political action and education. Political action can be championed by the process of forming Socialist Parties, which would be competing for power against other parties. Socialists will run the state employing politicians from other parties, civil servants, scientists and academics. For example, Nana Opoku Agyemang, current Minister for Education, is an academician who is serving under a Social democratic government in Ghana. This is the inspiration! As a Social democrat, I believe in social reform that is enforced by a benign state. I believe in competitive free, fair, transparent and regular elections. This kind of democracy will allow a degree of responsible and productive press freedom and a vibrant civil society, as experienced in Ghana under the National Democratic Congress government, so that the ruled can be informed of government programs and policies. Invariably, social democracy will commit itself to humanizing capitalism, not abolishing it, so as to ensure a strong private-public partnership that can benefit all persons in the society.
So then, what will be the role of the state? The state will advance a society built under the ideals of Social democracy, which include transparency, accountability, and justice. The leader will set goals aimed at journeying to an egalitarian society. The state will formulate theories that are geared toward ensuring a vibrant and healthy society, theories that will seek to protect and promote human dignity, and theories that will stabilize and solidify the environment in which we live. That means that policies formulated by the state are environmentally friendly. Therefore, as a social democrat, I regard the state as an embodiment of the common good. As opposed to liberalism, the state will not perform least. This major role of the state stands to oppose the ideals of Anarchism, where Anarchists believe that the state constitutes a united force of oppression, control, exploitation, destruction, coercion, and unchallengeable authority. I strongly reject Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s assertion that “to be governed is to be watched over… censored, and commanded; all by creatures that have neither the right, nor the wisdom, nor the virtue (Heywood, 1992). I appreciate a strong charismatic leader who is inclined towards socializing resources for the common good. The state will be redefined, and its purpose will be broadly renewed so that greater satisfaction will be achieved.
Speculations about the economy remain a critical issue under social democracy. The economy under Social democracy is summarized as, “Socialism introduces a new social synthesis in which modern technology is reconciled with human values, in which the advanced technical society is realized without the staggering social malefactions and deep schisms of capitalist industrial society. For true economic and social development cannot be promoted without the real socialisation of productive and distributive processes”(Nkrumah, 1967). As a child, I have realized that it is only under socialism that we can reliably gather the capital we need for our development and also ensure that the gains of investment are applied for the general good. The state will garner the resources of all to champion egalitarian goals. That means, capitalism will be humanized so as to reduce its inhuman features of marginalizing the poor. We shall recognize the private sector as the engine for growth and development. A perfect example of this practice is where in Ghana, the N.D.C is closely partnering Roland Agambire to develop the technical knowledge base of the people. Indeed, it is so beautiful a practice that the N.D.C is undertaking. Mahama, the N.D.C leader is exemplary to me (Mahama, 2012).
Social democracy largely differs from Classical liberalism. The latter believes in a minimal state, as they view the state as a necessary evil. Thomas Paine asserts that “the state is necessary in that it lays down the conditions for orderly existence, and it is evil in that it brings on a collective will on the ruled, thus restricting the freedom and duties of the individual” (Heywood, 1992). But I think otherwise; I believe in collectivization of power and resources for the common good. Whereas Individualist anarchists believe that state intervention distorts the competitive market and this has the potential of creating economies dominated by both private and public monopolies (Heywood, 1992), I see state intervention as the machinery through which resources can be socialized for the common good. The state works towards giving capitalism a human face. To avoid Proudhon’s assertion that “Property is theft”, Social democracy seeks to equalize outcome, at least to some extent in order to avoid the exploitation of the masses by the privileged few. This will be achieved through meticulous and diligent measures pursued by the state.
However tangible the differences, there are profound similarities. Both socialism and anarchism are deeply threatened by globalization. Globalization, induced by the spread of liberal thoughts and practices, has woefully affected the strength of socialists and anarchists’ arguments. Again, liberals and socialists are both economically inclined: they are both primarily concerned with economic issues and modules. Furthermore, modern liberals and social democrats believe in economic management, where the state intervenes in the market to solve economic inefficiencies. They both reject classical theory of pure free market economy.
Shedrach, is there anything that interests you about anarchism and capitalism? Well, there is. To me, anarchism is not evil; anarchists seek justice in society. They appear bored with the perpetration of injustice in the world. And I deeply respect capitalism, because I am in college because of Master card Foundation, a U.S firm. So, there are thousands of lessons to learn from anarchists and capitalists. I will not endorse any socialist state that tends to repeat the mistakes of the past. No! As anarchists direct the path if governance, capitalists like giant enterprises make investments in poor children like me. This is true because I was awarded scholarship to go to Senior High School by another US citizen, Kathryn Roe, and that tells me of the importance of humanizing capitalism for the common good.
In conclusion, Social democracy is the economic key to the general wellbeing of this troubled world. If there is any society, it must be structured by the principles of social democracy. I, therefore, endorse Nkrumah’s assertion that “Any meaningful humanism must begin from egalitarianism and must lead to objectively chosen policies for safeguarding and sustaining egalitarianism”. Yet, these thoughts are subject to change, as I am too young to perfectly decide the future with clear and precise directions. That is to say that I am evolving; my thoughts get refined each passing day, and new developments dawn on me. But I sense it will be very interesting to have an egalitarian society, where individuals get fulfillment through co-operation.