Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who Founded Democratic Socialism

Who Founded Democratic Socialism?
G L wrote:

 Who founded Democratic Socialism ?

As you are asking a very open ended philosophical question, I will give you a personal response and not an organizational one. The ancient Greeks developed the word democracy. English philanthropist, Robert Owen is credited with coining the term socialism. On a much deeper level, democratic socialism is the political and economic realization that every person shares an inherent dignity with all other human beings. This realization extends across cultures and philosophies.

However as I come from the Catholic Worker tradition, I will point to these passages of scripture:

Genesis 1:27 :

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Then there is the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25:

25:31  "But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.

25:32  Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

25:33  He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

25:34  Then the King will tell those on his right hand, 'Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;

25:35  for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in;

25:36  naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.'

25:37  "Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink?

25:38  When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you?

25:39  When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?'

25:40  "The King will answer them, 'Most assuredly I tell you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

25:41  Then he will say also to those on the left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels;

25:42  for I was hungry, and you didn't give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink;

25:43  I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in; naked, and you didn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me.'

25:44  "Then they will also answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn't help you?'

25:45  "Then he will answer them, saying, 'Most assuredly I tell you, inasmuch as you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me.'

25:46  These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

This is echoed In his Epistle of James, the brother of Jesus, and the leader of the Jerusalem Church :

2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man says he has faith, but has no works? Can faith save him?

2:15 And if a brother or sister is naked and in lack of daily food,

2:16 and one of you tells them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled”; and yet you didn’t give them the things the body needs, what good is it?

2:17 Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead in itself.

2:18  Yes, a man will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith

Finally, I would point to the Acts of Apostles:

2:44 All the believers were together and had everything in common

2:45 Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.

It was obviously from this passage that Karl Marx developed " From each according to his ability; to each according to his need."

So I would say as an individual and not in my official capacity, that democratic socialism is the plan of societal organization developed by th Creator of the Universe for benefit of humankind's harmony in this life and eternal salvation. I would go further to say that social democracy,  i.e. the evolutionary organization of the working class first into unions, then into a political party,  and finally into a government which places answering human needs, on an individual basis, as its highest priority, is the way for people to to be a part of the God's plan for meeting human need.

I have met Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists and agnostics who disagree with me as the nature or even the existence of an after life. I have met almost no one no that has argued that social and economic cooperation do not bring greater social harmony. Though few, including me of us have the courage of St. Basil and St John Chrysostom who both declared, "property is theft." This motto would become the title of a essay by French anarchist leader Pierre Joseph Proudhon 15 centuries later. Many argue that humanity is by nature competitive, acquisitive, and incapable of concern for others. If this fatalistic view of human nature is correct what is the use of life? Truly life would be a cosmic joke.

Who founded democratic socialism?  I would suggest democratic socialism is an age old attempt to fulfilled the will of God.

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