garden variety democratic socialism

Francisco Nejdanov Solomin,” the founder of gardenvarietydemocraticsocialist.com, supports a radicalized and loving “garden variety” democratic socialism in which the people of the planet are the active and responsible subjects democratically and lovingly nurturing each other and our world rather than the passive objects of amoral and unsustainable capitalist control. If we are to do our best as species-beings, together we must recognize and democratically assert our right and obligation to steward the earth’s soil and other resources as a public trust on behalf of all people, present and future, and we must treat the weak as friends.

While Brother Francisco greatly appreciates much from Marx (including Marx’s critique of capitalism, concern about material needs and alienation, emphasis on the species-being potential we all have, insights into the need to keep soil chemistry in balance, and holistic method for approaching issues), Marx is not the primary focus of his forward-looking ethical socialism.

We must learn to be loving comrades if we want society to become a society of loving comradeship. Thus, Brother Francisco’s garden variety democratic socialism is both personal and social, aspirational and iterative. Socialism to him is a loving society with peace, liberty, and justice for all. We the people must continually work for it and know we may never get there completely, but still we will try our best as species-beings to do so and in the process be loving comrades to each other.

Socialism can only be achieved with the people of the world having democratic control over the economy; no economic or other ruling class being allowed; economic, social, cultural, as well as civil and political rights for all; and intergenerational sustainability. Brother Francisco seeks a peaceful revolution to global democratic socialism, with justice in practice and as goal being in the service of love. This can only come about through personally challenging but compassionate direct and indirect action and with a broadly shared idea of where we are and where we need to go. The direct action will include small rewarding things like workers’ gardens and large risky things like general strikes and other forms of peaceful mass protest. The indirect action will include electioneering and the use of democratic means to constitutional change, when available.

We should be dialectally focused on “a global social contract to ameliorate and ultimately to supersede neoliberal globalism” (see Pamphlet No. 1: A Winding Path to Workers’ Gardens/Un camino de bobina a jardines de trabajadores, beginning at page 74):

[M]y democratic socialism is values-based not dogma-based. It is democratically rooted in ethics and science, but it is not “utopian” or “scientific” socialism. It is derived as much from the general concept of stewardship as it is from any political or economic philosopher. I do not claim that Marx cracked the code of a scientific approach to resolving humanity’s problems, but I do claim that science should be used in the interest of helping humanity rather than in the interest of making profits for capitalists. I know of no magic bean that can be planted under the mattresses of humans or in the soil that will solve all of our difficult problems. I wish I did. I wish an invisible hand would save us from ourselves. What we have is a failure to cooperate, but cooperation is not easily imposed.

My democratic socialism is gradual, kind but responsibly tough, flexible, and willing to tolerate some socialized forms of state, managed, or even market capitalism where this works best for the people. It is more or less of the garden variety of democratic socialism that is culturally-acceptable across most of the world, with added emphasis on a positive variation of the term “garden variety.” “Garden variety” to me is a proxy for many things, including the obligation to reliably meet the basic human needs of all people, the value of cooperatives and mutual aid rooted in love, the literal need for workers’ gardens in close proximity to dwelling spaces, the importance of sustainability, and the potential lessening of alienation that can come from working with the soil. Democratic socialism is quite commonly endorsed by a large percentage of everyday persons where my grandfather came from in the late 1920s (Spain, specifically, the Canary Islands, which suffered horrible repression under the so-called kings and queens and later Franco). It was an important part of the credo of my brave Cuban-American cigar roller ancestors in Florida, where they were continually harassed by hooded anti-union vigilantes. Cornel West sometimes calls it “deep democracy,” perhaps partly to avoid offending sensibilities in the U.S., but I think mostly because that ultimately is what it is.

Democracy should affect and control human society deeply, not only in the political sphere but also in the economic sphere, which is a human construct and should be used for humanity, not the profiteering of the few. No one should be left behind to fend for her or himself. Ultimately, my most important citizenship is of the earth, as I work to make it more like heaven. Humanity needs a global social contract to ameliorate and ultimately to supersede neoliberal globalism.

To read more about his views of garden variety democratic socialism, and how his journey led him to it, please see Pamphlet No. 1.

Note also that Brother Francisco would never support an agenda of, or acquiescence in, “austerity,” i.e., neoliberal budget-balancing on the backs of the workers and the needy. Sadly, some so-called democratic socialist parties and governments in Spain, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere have under the duress caused by capitalist crises done so. He does not reject the beautiful term “democratic socialism” but believes it must be reclaimed in all its radical fullness and never associated with an austerity agenda. He stands in solidarity with other radical pro-democracy leftists around the world who oppose neoliberalism in all its forms, including austerity.

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