Elucidating Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Socialism

❝To me, socialism doesn’t mean state ownership of everything, by any means, it means creating a nation, and a world, in which all human beings have a decent standard of living.❞    

― Bernie Sanders, interview with The Associated Press | Nov. 1990

❝I wouldn’t deny it. Not for one second. I’m a democratic socialist. … In Norway, parents get a paid year to care for infants. Finland and Sweden have national health care, free college, affordable housing and a higher standard of living. … . Why shouldn’t that appeal to our disappearing middle class?❞

― Bernie Sanders, interview with The Washington Post | Nov. 2006

❝In terms of socialism, I think there is a lot to be learned from Scandinavia and from some of the work, very good work that people have done in Europe. In countries like Finland, Norway, Denmark, poverty has almost been eliminated. All people have health care as a right of citizenship. College education is available to all people, regardless of income, virtually free. I have been very aggressive in trying to move to sustainable energy. They have a lot of political participation, high voter turnouts. I think there is a lot to be learned from countries that have created more egalitarian societies than has the United States of America.❞

― Bernie Sanders, interview with Democracy Now | Nov. 2006

❝I think it means the government has got to play a very important role in making sure that as a right of citizenship, all of our people have health care; that as a right, all of our kids, regardless of income, have quality childcare, are able to go to college without going deeply into debt; that it means we do not allow large corporations and moneyed interests to destroy our environment; that we create a government in which it is not dominated by big money interest. I mean, to me, it means democracy, frankly. That’s all it means. And we are living in an increasingly undemocratic society in which decisions are made by people who have huge sums of money. And that’s the goal that we have to achieve.❞

― Bernie Sanders, interview with Democracy Now | Nov. 2006


[Pt.➊ ― Popular Sovereignty and The American Tradition of Democratic Socialism]

Allow me to evoke the renown rhetorical foundation of American Democracy.

❝We the People❞

The first three words of the preamble identifying those responsible for upholding the foundations of the American Constitution.

Otherwise known as, "Democratic Socialism in three simple words."

In this case, I believe it is reasonable for us to broaden our interpretation of the words. Anyone who has a right to vote has a measure of responsibility for the equitable maintenance of the American government.

American Democracy is meant to be shepherded, and preserved via Vox populi.

✍ ◙ Vox Populi: ❝Vox populi is a Latin phrase that literally means voice of the people; popular opinion.❞

American Democracy operates in tandem with a sovereign principle.

Popular sovereignty or the sovereignty of the people.

✍ ◙ Popular Sovereignty: ❝The principle that the authority of the government is created and sustained by the consent of its people, through their elected representatives (Rule by the People), who are the source of all political power. It is closely associated with social contract philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.❞

Americans founded their Revolution and government on popular sovereignty.

This principle must be a part of a grassroots socially democratic initiative championed by the electorate, that is, every sovereign citizen of America.

When the electorate operates collectively (politically organized under a single governmental authority) , progress is made. It's the inherent responsibility of the body politic to proclaim that the authority of the government, is created and sustained by the consent of it's people.

As said by Abraham Lincoln:

❝We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.❞

This is genuine Democracy.


[Pt.➋ ― Social Democracy, and Democratic Socialism]

In order for us to elucidate Bernie Sanders' distinctive brand of Democratic Socialism, we'll have to scrutinize a few pieces of credible literature.

I'll be using references from:

➀ Sheri Berman's ❝Unheralded Battle: Capitalism, the Left, Social Democracy, and Democratic Socialism❞

➁ Donald F. Busky's ❝Democratic Socialism: A Global Survey❞

➂ Nik Brandal, Øivind Bratberg, and Dag Einar Thorsen's ❝The Nordic Model of Social Democracy❞

And, i'll be chiming in using the following text symbol: ✍

➂ There is thus no simple and unambiguous conceptual distinction between socialism and social democracy, beyond the basic observation that 'socialism' is a more encompassing―and therefore less accurate―term.

➂ According to the Oxford English Dictionary, socialism is a 'theory or system of social organization based on state or collective ownership and regulation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange for the common benefit of all members of society'. If strictly interpreted, 'social organization' can be taken to mean the abolition of private property, with public ownership of the means of production as the general rule. It is a highly uncommon view among social democrats today that this should be among the goals of their parties. Arguably, the notion that private property ought to be abolished was already becoming a minority opinion in social democratic parties across Europe in the period between the two World Wars.

✍ As stated by Bernie Sanders during one of his interviews:

❝To me, socialism doesn’t mean state ownership of everything, by any means.❞

➂ However, the dictionary entry also adds that the category 'socialism' today should include 'any of various systems of liberal social democracy which retain a commitment to social justice and social reform, or feature some degree of state intervention in the running of the economy'. This perspective is also found in one of the British philosopher Roger Scruton's more general definitions of 'social democracy', which he, among other things, defines as '[t]he theoretical and practical attempt to reconcile democracy with social justice, through the use of state power'.

✍ We can see how Bernie's belief coincides with this dictionary entry.

Finishing the previous quote:

❝it means creating a nation, and a world, in which all human beings have a decent standard of living.❞

Economic Justice is a component of Social Justice, so we can see where Bernie concurs with the following description:

❝Economic Justice is a set of moral principles for building economic institutions, the ultimate goal of which is to create an opportunity for each person to create a sufficient material foundation upon which to have a dignified, productive, and creative life beyond economics.❞

➂ Another term, namely, 'democratic socialism', has likewise been used in part to distinguish between democrats and revolutionaries. In Scandinavia, as in the rest of the world, 'social democracy' and 'democratic socialism' have often been used interchangeably to define the part of the left pursuing gradual reform through democratic means. One could, however, limit the use of the term 'social democracy' to the politics of the dominant labour parties, and then use 'democratic socialism' as a more encompassing term, which in the Scandinavian context would include the social democrats as well as the smaller socialist parties.

➂ In real-life usage, parties on the left, as well as political observers generally, often fail to maintain conceptual clarity. Not everyone agrees that social democracy is a (predominant) subset of democratic socialism. An easy solution would be to follow the simple maxim of the British Labour politician Herbert Morrison, that 'socialism is whatever the Labour Party does'―a perspective which has also been echoed repeatedly by social democrats in Scandinavia.

✍The "failure to maintain conceptual clarity", or contention, can be understood and more easily identified after also reading the following text from Donald F. Busky's book:

➁ Social democracy is a somewhat controversial term among democratic socialists. Many democratic socialists use social democracy as a synonym for democratic socialism, while others, particularly revolutionary democratic socialists, do not, the latter seeing social democracy as something less than socialism―a milder, evolutionary ideology that seeks to merely reform capitalism.

✍The historical context of these contentious disagreements are quite interesting, as Sheri Berman shows us:

➀ The most important and influential of the finde siècle proto-social democrats was Eduard Bernstein. Bernstein was an important figure in both the international socialist movement and its most powerful party, the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). He argued that capitalism was not leading to the immiseration of the proletariat, a drop in the number of property owners, and ever-deepening crises, as orthodox Marxists had predicted. Instead, he saw a capitalist system that was growing ever more complex and adaptable. This led him to oppose "the view that we stand at the threshold of an imminent collapse of bourgeois society, and that Social Democracy should allow its tactics to be determined by, or made dependent upon, the prospect of any forthcoming major catastrophe."

➀ Since catastrophe was both unlikely and undesirable, he argued, the left should focus on reform instead. The prospects for socialism depended "not on the decrease but on the increase of social wealth," together with socialists' ability to generate "positive suggestions for reform" that would improve the living conditions of the great masses of society: "With regard to reforms, we ask, not whether they will hasten the catastrophe which could bring us to power, but whether they further the development of the working class, whether they contribute to general progress." Perhaps Bernstein's most (in)famous comment was, "What is usually termed the final goal of socialism is nothing to me, the movement is everything." By this he simply meant that talking constantly about some abstract future was of little value; instead socialists needed to focus their attention on the long-term struggle to create a better world.

➀ Because the issues raised by Bernstein and other revisionists touched upon both theory and praxis, it is not surprising that the international socialist movement was consumed by debates over them during the fin-de-siècle. Karl Kautsky, the standard-bearer of orthodox Marxism, attacked Bernstein, commenting, "He tells us that the number of property-owners, of capitalists, is growing and that the groundwork on which we have based our views is therefore wrong. If that were so, then the time of our victory would not only be long delayed, we [End Page 68] would never reach our goal at all." Similarly, Wilhelm Liebknecht, one of the leaders of the powerful German SPD, noted, "If Bernstein's arguments [are] correct, we might as well bury our program, our entire history, and the whole of [socialism]." And Rosa Luxemburg, perhaps Bernstein's most perceptive critic, urged socialists to recognize that if his heretical views were accepted, the whole edifice of orthodox Marxism would be swept away:

➀ "Up until now," she argued, "socialist theory declared that the point of departure for a transformation to socialism would be a general and catastrophic crisis." Bernstein, however, "does not merely reject a certain form of the collapse. He rejects the very possibility of collapse . . . . But then the question arises: Why and how . . . shall we attain the final goal?" As Luxemburg recognized, Bernstein was presenting socialists with a simple question: Either "socialist transformation is, as before, the result of the objective contradictions of the capitalist order . . . and at some stage some form of collapse will occur," or capitalism could actually be altered by the efforts of inspired majorities—in which case "the objective necessity of socialism . . . falls to the ground."

✍ From this, it's easy to see that Bernstein favored progressive Reformism, as opposed to iconoclastic radicalism. Which is a very tenable position.

➀ These debates simmered for more than a generation, until events reached a critical juncture during the 1920s and early 1930s. Now in power in several major European countries, the democratic left found itself responsible for actual political and economic governance, not simply for agitation and theorizing. The onset of the Great Depression in particular forced socialists to confront their relationship to capitalism head-on. In the hour of what seemed to be capitalism's great crisis, what should socialists do? Should they sit back and cheer, seeing the troubles as simply the start of the transition that orthodox Marxism had long promised? Or should they try to stanch the bleeding and improve the system so that such disasters could never happen again? Fritz Tarnow, a leading German socialist and unionist of the day, summed up the dilemma in 1931:

❝Are we standing at the sickbed of capitalism not only as doctors who want to heal the patient, but also as prospective heirs who can't wait for the end and would gladly help the process along with a little poison? . . . We are damned, I think, to be doctors who seriously want to cure, and yet we have to maintain the feeling that we are heirs who wish to receive the entire legacy of the capitalist system today rather than tomorrow. This double role, doctor and heir, is a damned difficult task.❞

➀ In fact, it was not just difficult, it was impossible. And recognizing this, more and more socialists understood that the time had come to choose. One result was that during the early 1930s, reformers across the continent developed policies that, while differing in their specifics, were joined by one key belief: the need to use state power to tame and ultimately reform capitalism. In Belgium, Holland, and France, Hendrik de Man and his Plan du Travail found energetic champions; in Germany and Austria, reformers advocated government intervention in the economy and proto Keynesian stimulation programs; and in Sweden, the Social Democratic Party initiated the single most ambitious attempt to reshape capitalism from within.

➀ By the end of the 1930s, therefore, the longstanding debate on the democratic left had come to a head. On the one side stood social democrats, who believed in using the power of the democratic state to reform capitalism. And on the other side stood democratic socialists, who believed that leftists should not do anything about capitalism's crises because ultimately it was only through the system's collapse that a better world would emerge.

✍ Now that we have an adequate understanding of the ideological divide between the two factions, let's observe Social Democracy's influence on the postwar world and economy.

➀ During the interwar years, social democrats generally lost these battles, except in Scandinavia and, particularly, in Sweden. But in the wake of a second world war brought on by tyrannies that had come to power thanks in part to the interwar era's economic and social turmoil, the social democrats' ideas and policies ultimately triumphed, both on the left and across much of the political spectrum. After 1945, Western European states explicitly committed themselves to managing capitalism and protecting society from its more destructive effects. The prewar liberal understanding of the relationship among capitalism, the state, and society was abandoned: no longer was the role of the state simply to ensure that markets could [End Page 69] grow and flourish; no longer were economic interests to be given the greatest possible leeway. Instead, after the war the state was generally seen as the guardian of society rather than the economy, and economic imperatives were often forced to take a back seat to social ones.

➀ These changes seemed so dramatic at the time that contemporary observers were unsure how to characterize them. Thus, C.A.R Crosland argued that the postwar political economy was "different in kind from classical capitalism . . . in almost every respect that one can think of." And Andrew Shonfield similarly questioned whether "the economic order under which we now live and the social structure that goes with it are so different from what preceded them that it [has become] misleading . . . to use the word 'capitalism' to describe them."

➀ But of course capitalism did remain—even though it was a very different capitalism than before. After 1945, the market system was tempered by political power, and the state was explicitly committed to protecting society from its worst consequences. This was a far cry from what Marxists, communists, and democratic socialists had hoped for (namely, an end to capitalism), but it was equally far from what liberals had long advocated (namely, a free rein for markets). What it most closely embodied was the worldview long espoused by social democrats.

➀ Putting into place this new understanding of politics and markets allowed the West to combine—for the first time in its history—economic growth, well-functioning democracy, and social stability. Despite the obvious success of the postwar order, however, the triumph of social democracy was not complete. Many on the right accepted the new system out of necessity alone; once their fear of economic and social chaos (and the radical left) faded, their commitment to the order also faded. But more interestingly, even many on the left failed to understand or wholeheartedly accept the new dispensation. Some forgot that the reforms, while important, were merely means to an end—an ongoing process of taming and domesticating the capitalist beast—and so contented themselves with the pedestrian management of the welfare state. Others never made their peace with the loss of a post-capitalist future.

❐ The Impracticality of Revolutionary Democratic Socialist Views

✍This is a very important observation, and ultimately distinguishes the revolutionary faction from the more attractive reformist faction.

➀ A leading light in the second camp was Michael Harrington, putative heir to the mantle of Eugene Debs and Norman Thomas, one of the American left's most inspiring and influential figures, and a longtime contributor to this journal. Harrington supported reforms that alleviated the suffering of America's poor and marginalized (whom he famously termed "The Other America"), but he did not believe that such reforms or the welfare state more generally could ever eliminate suffering or injustice. These were ultimately inherent features of capitalism itself. He argued, for example, that the "class structure of capitalist society vitiates, or subverts almost every . . . effort towards social justice."

➀ Even the unprecedented economic growth of the postwar era did not fundamentally change Harrington's views. He described such growth as "misshapen" and "counterproductive," arguing that no matter how economically successful it was, capitalism was incapable of "meeting the needs of the people." Perhaps unsurprisingly, he was also convinced that capitalism was on its way out. In 1968, he opened his book Toward a Democratic Left with the proclamation that the "American system [didn't] seem to work any more." In 1976, he wrote a book called Twilight of Capitalism. In 1978, he asserted that "capitalism was dying." And in 1986—just three years before the collapse of communism and in the middle of a lengthy economic boom—he wrote that "the West is living through an economic and social crisis so unprecedented in its tempo, so complex in its effects, that there are many who do not even know it is taking place."

➀ The problem with such statements and the larger worldview that lay behind them is not merely that they were wrong, but also that they were counterproductive. Convinced that a better world had to await capitalism's demise, Harrington devoted much of his intellectual and political energy to convincing his readers that capitalism's apparent triumphs were fictional and that the system was really on its way out. And he sought to persuade the left that its chief task was not to reform and humanize [End Page 70] capitalism but rather to press for its passing.

➀ One result of the mismatch between Harrington's worldview and reality was that his attempts at practical guidance were highly impractical. Indeed, reading Harrington today one is struck by two things: the sharp and amazingly empathetic eye he brought to his descriptions of the American poor and the utopian irrelevance of most of his policy proposals for improving their lot. Harrington knew what he disliked about the existing capitalist order, but had trouble describing concretely how a post-capitalist world would actually work or how to get to it. Like other democratic socialists, he placed a lot of faith in "democratic planning." Yet aside from the emphasis on democracy and public participation (to differentiate it from the heavy-handed state planning of the Eastern bloc), there was little description about what such planning would involve or how it would achieve its goals. Other recommendations for building a socialist order included the socialization of investment, some form of "social" ownership, shorter working hours, and limits on the private setting of prices. But one looks in vain for details about how such measures could be implemented, what their likely results would be, and how they would relate to each other and to existing institutions so as to produce more efficient or just outcomes.

➀ It is hard not to conclude, especially with hindsight, that the democratic socialist view was ultimately a dead end. Although Harrington and others in his corner were very often correct in their scathing criticisms of capitalism, they consistently played down not only its extraordinary accomplishments but also the changes it went through over time—changes that were, to a large degree, the achievement of the left itself. By insisting that true justice could come only with capitalism's elimination, democratic socialists implicitly (and often explicitly) denigrated efforts at taming it—thus limiting the left's cohesiveness and appeal and its ability to offer practical benefits to suffering populations in the short and mid term.

✍ From these observations, we've come to understand why 'Democratic Socialism' and 'Social Democracy' have often been used

interchangeably. And, we now understand that there also exists a dissimilar historical context between these terms, which has caused confusion and contention.

Let's summarize:

ⓢ socialism: Any of various systems of liberal social democracy which retain a commitment to social justice and social reform, or feature some degree of state intervention in the running of the economy.

Ⓢ Socialism: Theory or system of social organization based on state or collective ownership and regulation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange for the common benefit of all members of society.

Bernie more accurately concurs with ⓢocialism, not Ⓢocialism.

That is Bernie's socialism, and why he identifies as a democratic 'socialist'.

Bernie Sanders believes that both the economy and society should be run democratically—to meet public needs.

Fundamental tenets of Bernie's Democratic Socialism (Social Democracy):

➀ The state must create a proper legal environment for the economy and maintain a healthy level of competition. Without the state fostering competition, firms with monopoly (or oligopoly) power will emerge, which will not only subvert the advantages offered by the market economy, but also possibly undermine good government, since strong economic power can be transformed into political power.

➁ The American economy must aim to combine free initiative and social progress on the basis of a competitive economy.This type of economy is opposed to laissez-faire policies and to socialist economic systems and combines private enterprise with regulation and state intervention to establish fair competition, maintaining a balance between a high rate of economic growth, low inflation, low levels of unemployment, good working conditions, social welfare, and public services.

➂ Shift decision-making power from corporate managers and corporate shareholders to a larger group of public stakeholders that includes workers, customers, suppliers, neighbors and the broader public. As a means to securing full economic rights, it opens a path to full political rights.

➃ Place a priority on the well-being and sustainability of the entire community, not just the lucky few. The community could be a metropolitan area, region, or an entire country.


[Pt.➌ ― Sustainable Capitalism and Unsustainable Capitalism]

❝Building on its best traditions, the left must reiterate its commitment to managing change rather than fighting it, to embracing the future rather than running from it. This might seem straightforward, but in fact it isn't generally accepted. Many European and American leftists are devoted to familiar policies and approaches regardless of their practical relevance or lack of success. And many peddle fear of the future, fear of change, and fear of the other. Increasing globalization and the dramatic rise of developing world giants such as China and India, for example, are seen as threats rather than opportunities.

At its root, such fears stem from the failure of many on the left to appreciate that capitalism is not a zero-sum game—over the long run the operations of relatively free markets can produce net wealth rather than simply shifting it from one pocket to another. Because social democrats understand that basic point, they want to do what they can to encourage trade and growth and cultivate as large a net surplus as possible—all the better to pay for measures that can equalize life chances and cushion publics from the blows that markets inflict.❞

― Sheri Berman, Unheralded Battle: Capitalism, the Left, Social Democracy, and Democratic Socialism

There exists many varieties of Capitalism. Biased/radical critics only seek to lambaste capitalism, and thereby incorrectly assume, that a distinctive attribute of Capitalism is static homogeneity.

But, this criticism is devoid of practical considerations.

It's difficult for some to separate Laissez-Faire/Unfettered Capitalism from practicable Capitalism.

Capitalism needs competition to work efficiently, and a monopsonist/monopolist prefers a lack of competition. Sclerotic management is a lucrative gamble for the propertied owners of capital. These moneyed interests require the absence of restrictive dictates, in order to efficiently confine the fruits of labor (capital) to hegemonic supervision.

Laissez-Faire Capitalism/Unfettered Capitalism allocates resources inefficiently.

Unfettered Capitalism is anarchic, having been unhindered by tension between it and regulative legislation. In concomitance, it erects a financial/business sector characterized by monopolistic/oligopolistic market constriction and anticompetitive behavior. This has been evidenced by the Gilded Age, Industrial Revolution, and Belle Epoque eras.

Minarchists generally believe a laissez-faire approach to the economy will most likely lead to economic prosperity.

Minarchists argue that the state has no authority to use its monopoly of force to interfere with 'free' transactions between people.

But, the truth is that once governmental bodies adopt minarchism; there's nothing stopping affluential interests (owners of big trusts/ capital) from abusing their hegemonic advantage by subjugating a nation's workers to their exploitative whims through impoverishment, imperilment, and immiseration.

Socialists believe that all capitalist economies will inevitably return to their anarchic origins, and consequently collapse. This will not happen.

Nor should we allow it to happen.

Economic liberalization hasn't ever benefited average citizens.

The lessening of government regulations and restrictions in an economy in exchange for greater participation by private entities, actively subjugates the lives of the majority to these minority private entities.

Social Democrats seek to safeguard popular sovereignty by managing Capitalism and protecting society from it's more destructive effects.

❝Helping people adjust to capitalism, rather than engaging in a hopeless and ultimately counterproductive effort to hold it back, has been the historic accomplishment of the social democratic left, and it remains its primary goal today in those countries where the social democratic mindset is most deeply ensconced.❞ ― Sheri Berman, Unheralded Battle: Capitalism, the Left, Social Democracy, and Democratic Socialism

More humane alternatives to Laissez-Faire have existed for decades.


Coordinated Market Economies/Social Market Economies (CMEs/SMEs)

Which function on the basis of Community Capitalism (Stakeholder Capitalism).

Community capitalism is an approach to capitalism that places a priority on the well-being and sustainability of the entire community, not just the lucky few. The community could be a metropolitan area, region, or an entire country.

❝I suggest the “social market economy”. The term was coined in Germany after the Second World War to show that capitalism could be combined with a strong government presence, workers participation in company boards and an extended social safety net. The combination is still apt, as each of the two words captures something essential. “Market” takes in capital, competition and the eager striving for improvement. “Social” pays tribute to the human element and the need for economic activity to serve the common, social good. It is appropriate that social comes first in the title, because the modern economy is a largely a construction by and for the whole community. If it had been merely capitalist, it would not have lasted this long.❞ ― Edward Hadas, The social market economy |Reuters

✍ Referencing Peter Critchley's ❝The Social Market Model❞:

The Social Market model of the modern economy differs from the Liberal Market model in almost every respect of economic organisation, in terms of both financial structures and social controls, making for a stable, yet dynamic (and remarkably enduring) system. Against the vagaries of possible socialist futures, the Social Market model is tried and tested by experience and not only works but works well,demonstrating levels of social (and environmental) justice and economic growth far superior to other models.

❐ The Role of The Market

The problem is one of appropriate balance and mix, good fences that prevent spheres from encroaching on each others' terrain. There can be no viable society in which the public realm does everything, something entailing a bureaucratic suffocation of living forces; and there can be no viable society which is universally subordinated to private commercial imperatives. There can be no society in which all goods and services are public goods and hence free; and no society in which all goods and services are private commodities to be bought and sold. 'Some assets, by definition, cannot be transferred from one owner to the other. They may be personal(love and friendship, generosity and honour, for example) or collective (democracy, public freedoms, human rights, justice etc.). They are what may be termed non-negotiable (or non-exchangeable) goods, and they are basically the same for both models of capitalism, with one major exception: religion' (Albert 1993 ch 6). It is here in the realm of negotiable goods (i.e. commodities and services that can always be exchanged), and non-negotiable public or mixed goods that the main differences between the Social Market model and the Liberal Market model become clear. The Liberal Market model prioritises negotiable goods, whilst the Social Market model demonstrates a predominance of mixed goods (those which are partly negotiable on the open market and partly dependent on public-sector initiative).

✍ Using this overview on the Social Market Economy from the Oxford Index:

❝Coordinated market economies rely on formal institutions to regulate the market and coordinate the interaction of firms and firm relations with suppliers, customers, employees, and financiers. CMEs tend to be characterized by relatively long-term relations between economic actors that are also relatively cooperative (see patient capitalism). In the field of HRM, CMEs tend to have high levels of job security, a good record on training and development, institutionalized forms of worker participation, based on works councils, and relatively cooperative relations between trade unions and employers' associations. These long-term, cooperative relations provide CMEs with their source of comparative advantage in the world economy: they tend to be good at process innovation and the production of high quality, high value-added goods in mature manufacturing❞

Notably, Coordinated Market Economy (CME) models capture certain salient features of northern Europe (in particular in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland).

Bernie Sanders has expressed his admiration of the Nordic Model in Scandinavian countries:

❝In terms of socialism, I think there is a lot to be learned from Scandinavia and from some of the work, very good work that people have done in Europe. In countries like Finland, Norway, Denmark, poverty has almost been eliminated. All people have health care as a right of citizenship. College education is available to all people, regardless of income, virtually free. I have been very aggressive in trying to move to sustainable energy. They have a lot of political participation, high voter turnouts. I think there is a lot to be learned from countries that have created more egalitarian societies than has the United States of America.❞

― Bernie Sanders, interview with Democracy Now | Nov. 2006

Lane Kenworthy concurs with Bernie Sanders' interpretation of Social Democracy in that he uses it to refer to the political economy buttressed by the Nordic Model in the aforementioned Scandinavian countries.

❝I use it to refer to the political economy that is best exemplified by the Nordic countries, particularly Denmark and Sweden. It originated as a movement — the labor movement and affiliated political parties, which were often but not always called "Social Democratic" parties — that blossomed in the early part of the 20th century as an alternative to Communist or Socialist and other, more left-wing movements that wanted to replace capitalism.

The idea behind social democracy was to make capitalism better. There is disagreement about how exactly to do that, and others might think the proposals in my book aren't true social democracy. But I think of it as a commitment to use government to make life better for people in a capitalist economy. To a large extent, that consists of using public insurance programs — government transfers and services — to achieve three goals in particular.

The first is "economic security," and that has a long history. That was the motivating force behind a lot of the programs implemented in the Nordic countries and our own New Deal. They were aimed fundamentally at addressing problems of economic insecurity.

The second is "opportunity." No one believes any society could have equal opportunity, but we could have less unequal opportunity.

The third is "shared prosperity," which is another way of talking about income inequality, though it's not quite identical. The idea with shared prosperity is that as economies grow, everyone should benefit. You don't necessarily need to be reducing income and wealth inequality, but those on the bottom should benefit when there's economic growth.❞

― Lane Kenworthy

Bernie is determined to strengthen the welfare state to ensure economic security.

Bernie is determined to promote meritocracy, creating a nation characterized by achievement.

Bernie is determined to broaden prosperity, and broadly share the gains of growth. Compensating each working-class/middle-class American for national productivity.

He is not determined to dethrone capitalism, but simply dislodge it from the Neo-Liberal paradigm.