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Democratic Socialism

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    The Political Ideology of Socialism

    Danziger & Smith (2016) describe socialism’s “most important goal is to provide high-quality, relatively equal conditions of life for everyone, with an active state assisting in the achievement of this goal” (p. 35). Socialism is a normative political theory that promotes equality and fairness among individuals and society. Its belief system promotes individual equality within society and with government involvement. Democratic socialism is an ideology associated with socialism, but with an aspect of empirical political theory. Socialism’s goal is to provide society and individuals an equally high quality of life.


    Socialism views that individuals are generally good and caring by nature, and with environmental factors affecting them (Danziger & Smith, 2016, p. 35). So, it’s critical to create an environment that motivates individuals to place society as a higher priority than self. Therefore individuals need to set aside their self interests for the best interest of their community.

    Individual, State, and Society

    Danziger & Smith (2016) states that socialism’s ideology is the distribution of someone’s efforts to divide within a community equally, and it’s the government’s responsibility enabling citizens access to education, jobs, healthcare, and financial stability (p. 35). Merriam-Webster (n.d) defines socialism as “any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.” A socialist government ensures equality among everyone in its society, especially economically.


    Socialism defines equality that everyone is equal in all aspects, especially economically, and promotes equality through government programs and policies. Significant differences between Marxist-Leninist socialism and democratic socialism is Marxist-Leninist uses violent actions and oppression to overthrow the socio-economic hierarchy to establish total control to restructure the economy with an authoritarian leadership group (Danziger & Smith, 2016, p. 35). Dixon (2010), describes democratic socialism as “both individual freedom and equality…of the highest order” (p. 2). Democratic socialism is a variation of egalitarianism, and the belief of achieving equal rights and opportunities without “violence and repression” (Danziger & Smith, 2016, p. 36), separating democratic socialism from Marxist-Leninist socialism. Democratic socialism has a significant control of the economic system but doesn’t completely control it like Marxist-Leninist socialism.

    Political Orientation: Democratic Socialism

    Democratic socialism is an ideology associated with socialism, but with empirical political theory. In contrast, Marxist-Leninist socialism is the bases of normative political theory with little to no empirical political approach. “One final reason lies in the fact that Marx’s theory seems to be ‘refuted’ periodically by empirical observation.” (Henning & Henninger, 2014, p.73). However, unlike Marxist-Leninist socialism, democratic socialism is more of a normative political theory. Empirical theory affects normative theory in democratic socialism, as described by Pietrzyk-Reeves (2017, as cited Bauböck, 2008, p. 40), “Normative theory can guide empirical research while empirical research can have positive impact on normative theory”(182). Therefore, democratic socialism bases empirical political theory on normative political theory more than Marxist-Leninist socialism.

    Belief Systems: Democratic Socialism

    Belief systems that promote democratic socialism is that capitalism creates economic inequality, the need for a national healthcare system (NHS) or Medicare-for-all, free higher education, and climate change. There may be many differences between democratic socialism and Marxist-Leninist socialism, but one common core belief they share is anti-capitalism. On the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) (n.d.), their website states, “At the root of our socialism is a profound commitment to democracy, as means and end. As we are unlikely to see an immediate end to capitalism tomorrow,…..” Many factors contribute to the democratic socialist’s belief system, but the most critical profound belief is economic equality.

    Political Culture Influence on Ideology And Behavior

    The political culture of Hollywood can influence the ideology and behavior of independents and mild conservatives. An example is the movie The Big Short (McKay, 2015). that demonstrates how capitalism can destroy the economy without adequate government involvement and control. It also exposes the violation of shared core morals and values by corruption and greed. People may lose confidence in the government system when they watch movies like The Big Short (McKay, 2015) and might shift their political ideology due to Hollywood’s political culture influence. However, the audience can also affect political culture Hollywood by their demand for a particular movie. Thus, Hollywood’s political culture can influence other’s ideology and behavior


    Socialism is a normative political theory more than an empirical approach. Socialism’s belief system promotes individual equality and fairness in society with government involvement. Democratic socialism is an ideology associated with socialism, but with an aspect of empirical political theory. Still, it’s a belief system is more of a normative political theory than Marxist-Leninist socialism. Therefore, socialism’s goal is that the government ensures individuals and society an equally high quality of life.


    1. Bauböck, R. (2008). “Normative Political Theory and Empirical Research.” In: D. della Porta, M. Keating (eds.). Approaches and Methodology in the Social Sciences: A Pluralist
    2. Perspective. Cambridge–New York: Cambridge University Press.Porta, M. Keating.
    3. Danziger, J.N. & Smith, C.A. (2016). Understanding the political world a comparative introduction to political science (12th ed). Pearson.
    4. Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). (n.d.). About Us.
    5. Dixon, K., (2010). Freedom and Equality: The Moral Basis of Democratic Socialism. Taylor & Francis Group.
    6. Gerring, J., Yesnowitz, J. (2006). “A Normative Turn in Political Science”. Polity, 38(1),pp. 101–133.
    7. Henning,C. & Henninger, M. (2014). Philosophy after Marx 100 Years of Misreadings and the Normative Turn in Political Philosophy. Brill.
    8. Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Socialism. In dictionary. Retrieved April 18, 2020, from
    9. McKay, A. (Director). (2015). The Big Short. Paramount Pictures.
    10. Pietrzyk-Reeves, D. (2017). Normative Political Theory. teoria polityki,1,173-185.

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