In one of her growing list of viral interviews, Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez condemned America's "hyper-capitalism" and predicted the end of the whole economic system. "So I do think right now we have this no holds barred, wild west hyper-capitalism," she said. "What that means is profit at any cost. Capitalism has not always existed in the world and will not always exist in the world."
In an op-ed for Vox Wednesday, Democratic Socialists of America member and staff writer for Jacobin, Meagan Day, makes clear that the young Democratic candidate's comment is not a regrettable moment of hyperbole, it is the ultimate goal of their shared ideology: "In the long run, democratic socialists want to end capitalism," writes Day.
Day begins by quoting various members of the media who have tried to soften the views of the party represented by Ocasio-Cortez by attempting to distance them from "traditional socialists." But, Day stresses, the agenda of the group that has grown to more than 45,000 members, with Bernie Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez leading the way, is not simply "New Deal liberalism":
I’m a staff writer at the socialist magazine Jacobin and a member of DSA, and here’s the truth: In the long run, democratic socialists want to end capitalism. And we want to do that by pursuing a reform agenda today in an effort to revive a politics focused on class hierarchy and inequality in the United States. The eventual goal is to transform the world to promote everyone’s needs rather than to produce massive profits for a small handful of citizens.
Pooling society’s resources to meet people’s basic needs is a tenet of social democracy, one that’s been advocated domestically by much of the labor movement and many of its political supporters among New Deal and post-New Deal liberals. This is a vision we share. But we also want more than FDR did. A robust welfare state in an economy that’s still organized around capitalists’ profits can mitigate the worst inequalities for a while, but it’s at best a temporary truce between bosses and workers — and one that the former will look to scrap as soon as they can.
"As long as a handful of elite capitalists get to call the shots in the economy and society, the playing field will be tilted in their favor. They’ll always be the ones who come out on top," writes Day. "Many observers see groups like DSA pushing for policies like Medicare-for-all and decide that we must actually be something like New Deal liberals who are simply confused about the meaning of socialism. That’s not true. Our goal is not to rein in the excesses of capitalism for a few decades at a time — we want to end our society’s subservience to the market."
Day cites Ocasio-Cortez's goal of "Medicare-for-all" as an "instructive example" of how the DSA is working to overthrow capitalism incrementally:
... Medicare-for-all is not socialism. It would only nationalize insurance, not the whole health care system. Doctors would remain private employees, for example, though under some plans they would be required to restructure their businesses into nonprofit entities. Democratic socialists ultimately want something more like the British National Health Service (NHS), in which everyone pays taxes to fund not just insurance but doctors and hospitals and medicine as well. This would give us the opportunity to design a system that benefits every one of us, not a few pharmaceutical and hospital network executives.
Knowing it's not possible to go that extreme yet, the DSA is pushing for one step closer, Medicare-for-all. But they also know that they must eventually get more radical and begin "altering the more basic structures" of the government and society, as New York state Senate candidate Julia Salazar told Day in a recent interview.
Until they are able to push for more openly "socialist and robust progressive agendas," she writes, they'll continue to be "in the trenches fighting for what Ocasio-Cortez called the 'minimum elements necessary to lead a dignified American life' — and along the way, we’ll also be articulating a vision for society beyond capitalism, where each person’s life is truly theirs to live, not to spend toiling for a dime while the boss takes a dollar."