Accuracy in Media

The New York Times’ Maggie Astor offered a primer on democratic socialism, painting a picture of a maligned and misinterpreted philosophy, without any evidence to back up this characterization.

Paired with the story, Astor created a misleading quiz stating that if you believe in grassroots organizing that means you’re on the path of a democratic socialist.

In her article, “Are You a Democratic Socialist?” Astor writes: “But for all their electoral triumphs so far, democratic socialism remains poorly understood and is frequently conflated, incorrectly, with communism — or, on the flip side, with European-style social democracy. So we built a quiz to help you understand what it is, and how your own political views compare with it.”

“They don’t want Soviet-style state control of the economy,” Astor writes. “While they believe a small number of industries would be best administered by the government, they oppose authoritarianism and support a mostly decentralized economy controlled by workers and consumers, such as through cooperatives.”

Astor offers a six-question quiz, replete with quotes by Maria Svart, the national director of the  Democratic Socialists of America (D.S.A.).

Astor asks, “Ideally, how should major social or political changes be achieved?

1. Through the traditional democratic process: elections, legislation and popular lobbying.

2. Through grass-roots organizing.

3. By any means necessary, including violence and/or revolution.”

If a user selects, “Through grass-roots organizing,” they are given the prompt: “You agree with democratic socialists. While they support and participate in the electoral process (as evidenced by the many D.S.A. candidates this year), they believe the ideal way to make change is through mass mobilization and organizing.

‘We would prefer, for example, for us to win universal rent control in New York through organizing millions of New Yorkers,’ Ms. Svart said. ‘We believe that it’s through the process of pushing for these changes that people empower themselves.’”

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