By Matthew Rothschild on May 20, 2009

Some in the Republican Party are trying to re-dub the Democratic Party as the Democrat Socialist Party.

Nothing like getting out the old encrusted red paintbrush.

But I hope some Democrats don’t run from this label.

Running doesn’t get you anywhere.

Democrats have been running from the label “liberal” since the days of Michael Dukakis, and that hasn’t helped them.

And for those who, like me, are actually Democratic Socialists, it’s time to come out and say so.

Democratic socialism has brought a much better quality of life to the people in Scandinavia and France and Germany and Britain, and it has not erased one iota of the political freedoms we cherish in this country.

We need to move this country in the direction of democratic socialism.

We need a much sturdier social safety net.

It’s a sin that in this country, 35 million people do not have enough food to eat during at least part of the year.

It’s a sin that 47 million Americans are without health insurance.

It’s a sin that of the top 18 industrialized countries, the United States ranks last in the percentage of children (11.8 percent) who are not likely to live to age 60, and last in the percentage of people (17 percent) living on less than 50% of the national median income, according to the United Nations Development Program.

We need a much more egalitarian distribution of wealth and income.

The top 1 percent of Americans hoards 34.3 percent of the nation’s wealth, and the top 10 percent accounts for 71.2 percent of the wealth.

As far as income goes, the top 10% sops up 42.5 percent of the nation’s income.

(These stats are from the State of Working America, 2008/2009.)

We need much more control over the economic giants that dominate not only our economy but our political system.

Hell, it was just a few days ago when Dick Durbin said, “The banks own the place,” after Congress after ten Democrats joined the Republicans in voting against letting judges write down the mortgages of people in bankruptcy court.

And the people want universal health care, but the drug companies and insurance companies have been standing in the way for decades.

Right now, capitalism is eating away at our democracy.

So, thank you, Republicans, we do need democratic socialism.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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