CARLSON: OK. So, democratic socialism is the future. But what is democratic socialism? We thought it would be worth pausing for a minute to \find out.
Democratic socialism is not, by the way, a wing of the Democratic Party. At least not yet. It's an entirely separate movement with its own national organization, the Democratic Socialists of America.
Two years ago, the DSA endorsed Bernie Sanders and opposed Donald Trump, but did not endorse Hillary Clinton. So, at times, it has been antagonistic to the Democratic party.
What did democratic socialists believe? There's no formal platform, but the outlines are pretty clear. Democratic socialist support socialism, state ownership of major industries. That would include healthcare, technology, manufacturing, some of them explicitly support communism.
The co-chair of Portland, Oregon's chapter of the DSA recently tweeted this, "As a DSA chapter co-chair, I just want to set the record straight for a minute - communism is good."
But democratic socialism is about more than economics. The DSA's official Twitter account demands reparations for African-Americans in the form of free and open enrollment at public colleges, retroactive forgiveness of student loans and a guaranteed lifetime minimum income. The DSA has also called for an end to all immigrant deportations everywhere in the United States.
In New York, the DSA has demanded the abolition of profits, prisons, cash bail and borders. Not all democratic socialists have the same views on everything, but that gives you some idea. Unlimited uncontrolled immigration into the US, coupled with race-based reparations, the abolition of prisons and, by extension, law and order and a massive expansion of a welfare state financed by an economic system that does not recognize profit.
How would that exactly? Has it ever worked in any country in the world? Those suddenly seem like relevant questions. And at this pace, democratic socialists could get the Democratic nomination at some point and be elected president.
So, we thought it was a perfect moment to speak to possibly the most famous of all advocates for democratic socialism, Cornell West. He is a professor at Harvard. He's an honorary co-chair of the Democratic Socialists of America and he joins us tonight.
Cornell, thank you for coming on.
CORNELL WEST, DSA HONORARY CHAIR: Thank you. And it's good to be in dialogue with you once again.
CARLSON: Yes, it is. So, give us some sense of what democratic socialism is. Can you point to an example, and extant example of it, that works? Venezuela seems like a an example of democratic socialism? Would you say that it is? And if so, does it work?
WEST: No, I don't think that democratic socialism as an ideal has been able to be embodied in a larger social context.
There's different forms of it. Some are bad, some are medium, some are better. But the fundamental commitment is to the dignity of ordinary people and to make sure they can live lives of decency.
So, it's not an ism, no, brother. It's about decency. It's about fairness. It's about the accountability of the powerful vis-a-vis those who have less power at the workplace, women dealing with a household, gays, lesbians, trans, black people, indigenous peoples, immigrants.
How do we ensure that they are treated decently and that the powerful don't in any way manipulate, subjugate and exploit them.
CARLSON: I mean, if that's democratic socialism is, then I'm basically on board. I do think that ordinary people, middle-class people ought to have dignity.
CARLSON: And I think that our current systems make it hard for them to have dignity. So, I agree with all of that.
CARLSON: But the details matter.
WEST: That's precisely why - that's why Albert Einstein, Helen Keller, Norman Thomas, Eugene Debs, Martin Luther King Jr., Ella Baker, we can go on and on, they're all democratic socialists. Michael Harrington, one of the great founders of Democratic Socialism of America -
CARLSON: I understand. But has it struck as interesting that it's never actually worked anywhere. So, the question is not what are our goals. Our goals are the same. How do we get there is the question.
So, what happened in Venezuela? They called that democratic socialism, but they don't have toilet paper, and it's less equal than ever.
WEST: Part of the problem is, though, brother that anytime there's been attempts of ordinary people to engage in self-determination, they can get crushed by external nations. Look at US policies toward Venezuela, has been very, very ugly. Nicaragua in the same way.
We saw that in so many other instances where countries tried to engage in self-determination and they either get crushed, they either get coerced and they end up oftentimes responding to that kind of authoritarian treatment.
So, we never had a chance to really pull it off. So, it's only been a movement so far. It's an attempt to resist the greed at the top, the racism, the sexism, the homophobia, the various ways in which humanity is violated rather than affirmed.
CARLSON: So, here's a gist of the details quickly. The DSA of New York, which is certainly one of the biggest in the country, recently said -
WEST: Thank god for sister Alexandria. She's my sister comrade -
CARLSON: So, they said that they're against borders, profits and prisons. What would a country without prisons look like? What would you do with murderers, for example, or rapists? Where would you put them with no prisons?
WEST: Well, when they prisons, they're talking about the kinds of prisons we have at the present. If you have sites of rehabilitation, education, ways in which transformation can take place, you and I ourselves - you're Episcopalian, I'm Baptist, we're Christians, right? - we believe all human beings are made not just in the image of God, but they can be changed, they can be transformed when the right kind of intervention takes place.
That's what people mean in the socialist movement when they talk about the elimination of the kind of prisons that are in place.
CARLSON: So, what they really want is better prisons. Maybe they should be more - OK, so what about borders, though?
WEST: You're going to have isolation, you're going to have distance, but you don't give up on them. And most importantly, you don't view them in the vicious - through the lens of being less than human, that they can bounce back, they can be better.
CARLSON: So, if a government's obligation is to its own citizens and you dropped the borders and have no border enforcement at all, what would happen to this country, what would happen to the poor people in this country? Would their lives get better? Would they become more prosperous?
No, this country become poorer, dirtier, impossible to manage, it would be flooded with the poor of the world, and it would destroy our country instantly. So, why would you say no borders.
WEST: Well, I mean, again, no, you've got a variety of voices in the Democratic Socialists of America. We're like a jazz orchestra. You've got different perspectives and orientations. We all don't agree on one particular policy all the time.
This is true in terms of Israeli occupation of Palestinians, some are in the middle, some are much more critical like myself.
The question is, how do you keep track of the rich humanity of Mexican brothers and sisters, of those coming from Latin America, those coming from Africa, those coming from Haiti, and those coming from Europe and Asia. That's the important thing.
We know the history of America that indigenous peoples and Africans who've been enslaved was to open the borders, to bringing folk in, to allow people to getting answers. But it's not a matter of no borders at all. It's a matter of how do you ensure that their dignity is affirmed when they arrive so that you don't end up having the kind of neofascist policies of the Trump administration separating these precious children from their mothers and fathers.
CARLSON: That's silly as you well know. But how you think that the descendent of Americans - hold on, but how do you think the descendants of American slaves benefit when you bring in 25 million illegals - illegal immigrants from the Third World, does that elevate poor Americans?
I don't see any evidence that they get richer or happier when you bring in more poor people. You ignore their problems. That's why we pay any attention to their problems anymore.
WEST: But if we were having this discussion 100 years ago and you had millions of people coming from Jew-hating Europe, Irish-hating Britain and Ireland, all the folk who came into the making of slices of this nation, they did not allow for the kind of coming together with poor and working people would be able to straighten their backs up and speak with dignity and decency about issues that affect all of us, that's the history of the nation with the exception of the African slaves and the precious indigenous people.
So, the idea that somehow now that the immigrants are here, and a lot of the immigrants who've only been here one or two generations, now become the definitive authority defining what it is to be an American, how hypocritical can you get.
I've been here nine generations, coming out of enslaved people, and I can still embrace my Mexican brothers and sisters. I can embrace the whole host of others coming from around the world.
But it's not just a matter of no borders. I don't know believe in just no borders myself. It's a question of making sure their dignity is affirmed when they get here.
CARLSON: Then you've got to get a hold of the DSA of New York's Twitter account because they're saying some pretty reckless things over there.
WEST: Well, we've got a number of voices in DSA. I love them. We believe in disagreement. We believe in disagreement. You were just talking about disagreement in terms of defending civil liberty. I believe in protecting civil liberties, yours, mine, Page's, Bernie Sanders', (INAUDIBLE), a whole host of folks. But we have to be consistent.
CARLSON: You always lose me at the end, Cornell. Thank you so much for coming on. I hope you will come back. Cornell West.