If you don’t like how other people vote, imagine that their votes determine a larger number of issues. That’s what socialism will bring, as Conor Friedersdorf attempts to explain to leftists:
Popular control is finally realized! So: How popular is Islam? How many Muslim prayer rugs would the democratic majority of workers vote to produce? How many Korans? How many head scarves? How much halal meat would be slaughtered? What share of construction materials would a majority of workers apportion to new mosques?
Under capitalism, the mere existence of buyers reliably gives rise to suppliers. Relying instead on democratic decisions would pose a big risk for Muslims. And Sikhs. And Hindus. And Jews. And maybe even Catholics.
Right now, under capitalism, vegetarians and vegans have more options every year. But there aren’t very many of them. Five percent of Americans are vegetarians. Three percent are vegans. Would “the workers” find a societal need to produce vegan meat or milk substitutes? No one knows the answer. […]
So, young leftists: Would you prefer a socialist society in which birth control is available if, and only if, a majority of workers exercising their democratic control assents? Or would you prefer a society in which private businesses can produce birth control, per their preference, in part because individuals possess economic rights as producers and consumers, the preferences of a majority of people around them be damned?
If contraception at every CVS and Walgreens sounds better than “popular control,” you may be a laissez-faire capitalist, or at least recognize why democratic socialism can be a nightmare for many sorts of people.
[Conor Friedersdorf, “Democratic Socialism Threatens Minorities,” The Atlantic, August 9]