What is wrong with having a political agenda?
On Diane Moen’s “Socialism is an external construct”.
When Diane Moen argues that socialism is an external construct with a political agenda while a social conscience is “pure and has no political agenda”, she has, without saying so, slipped in a very dubious proposition: that political agendas are a bad thing. What she does not tell us is how, without some sort of political agenda, one decides in what causes to exercise one’s social conscience.
But there is an even deeper flaw in Ms Moen’s letter. Her argument is based on the deeply conservative notion that one should accept society and its institutions as they are, that improvements can and should come only from improving people’s behaviour. In short, that the answer to the world’s woes is more Sermons on the Mount with no Tommy Douglases preaching them.
Yet if William Wilberforce and John Brown had followed her reasoning, slavery could never have been abolished. Rather than face the fact that the institution itself is evil, those of pure conscience would still be trying to convince slave owners to be kinder.
Imperfect as the process and the results may often be, the struggle for social change is the only way that we can prevent evils such as slavery, the only way that we can hope to stop future disasters such as environmental collapse. Following Ms. Moen’s lead may be emotionally satisfying but it will achieve nothing.
As a footnote, I would like to suggest that while Stalin was many things, he was never a “democratic socialist.”