While the eyes of some are watching the curious rise of Bernie Sanders as the potential United States Democratic Party’s candidate for the presidential elections later this year, it is worth stepping back for a moment and asking what ‘democratic socialism’ (as proclaimed by the aforesaid septuagenarian) actually is.
I copy below an assessment from China, published already in 2009:
In recent years, and especially on the eve of the 17th CPC National Congress, the trend of democratic socialist thought has been on the rise. To help people understand the essence of democratic socialism, a group of Marxist scholars and experts, including Xu Chongwen, Zhou Xincheng, Zhang Quanling and Zheng Keyang, published articles on this issue. They agreed that democratic socialism is a reformist trend of capitalism that favors diversity in its guiding ideology, denies the leading position of Marxism, calls for privatisation in the economic system, and negates the dominant position of public ownership. With regard to the political system, democratic socialism advocates a multi-party system and parliamentary democracy, and negates the leadership of the communist party and proletarian dictatorship. As its ultimate goal, democratic socialism favours capitalist reformism, denies the historical impermanence of capitalism and the historical inevitability that human society will eventually evolve into socialism and communism. The scholars’ papers emphasised the fact that socialism with Chinese characteristics combines China’s national conditions with the times and a new form of scientific socialism. Any misinterpretation of the socialist road with Chinese characteristics as a democratic socialist road is groundless and fundamentally wrong.
The source – Marxist Studies in China (2009) – is one of the increasing number of journals publishing Chinese Marxist research in English. The quotation comes from pages 97-98.