"Socialism." The problem is that word doesn't have a consistent definition. The United States, as most Western Countries are socialist to some degree. It is nearly impossible to have a completely free market economy. It just doesn't work.
While I agree there is definitely much ambiguity attached to the word, in the most basic sense it's pretty clearly understood to be, as defined by dictionary.com, "a theory or system of social organization that advocates the vesting of the ownership and control of the means of production and distribution, of capital, land, etc., in the community as a whole." Also, I disagree that the US is partially socialist. A country cannot be "partially socialist", either a community collectively own and manage the means of production or they do not. Capitalism with a saftey net is not socialism to me.
That being said I think you're a bit confused about your terms here. You're talking about a "workers democracy." In that respect I guess you're referring to something like I suppose Trotskyism? But in the end you would still end up with really a Socialist Single Party state. It just has to be that way. There is a Vanguard Party it is in charge. It protects the revolution and established a dictatorship of the proletariat. While there may be some democratic ideals in there and possibly elections there aren't choices. You have that one party which is inherently different from true democracy. It isn't freedom.
No, I'm refering to socialism, but I suppose this goes back to the ambiguity of the word. Socialism/communism have at their root in the common democratic ownership of the means of production and an economy that is managed by human oversight. In regards to the single party state, I disagree and infact I would say we already have that today in the US under the guise of democracy because both parties represent monied interests (and in some cases the exact same ones), just different factions. There is no real third party.
However, what you're discribing is the Marxist-Leninist (also called stalinist by some, and abreviated as ML for short) theory of revolution which is specific to a certain epoch in history to a specific communist party which has since past. There are other forms of socialist organization that have sprung forth during revolutions in the past, such as the anarchist communes that arose in certain places during the Spanish civil war. While they were eventually crushed and replaced by the rule of Franco after he took power, what took place was the collective organization of working people (through a revotionary industrial union that I cannot remember the name of atm) to run their communities democratically, and this is what I envision when I advocate for socialist organization of society. A bottom up, democratic government that is actually accountable to their constituents because they are on the same economic footing. The point of this example being, there are different forms of organization relevant to different material circumstances and historical conditions. What happened in 1917 Russia will be FAR different than the globally connected world of today, not to say that it would be flawless or perfect, but simply different in character. Not to mention that the USSR faced much opposition and was never once given a moment of peace to try and develop it's economy (probably because the idea of a successfull socialist state scares the shit out of the capitalist class). Not only that, but I do not agree with the concept of a vanguard party at all, and I feel that the leadership of any party must be made up of working class people with normal daily lives, and not "professional revolutionaries".
Additionally you say such a system would be free from corruption. That is hilarious. I'm sorry but it wouldn't be. If anything, it would be worse. Such a system with a small powerful Vanguard Party is inherently more prone to corruption as you have just a few individuals or groups running the show. Additionally, such an economic system isn't very efficient or productive and would limit choice and competition further.
Actually you said that, not I, so you should read more carefully. I never once said anything about corruption and socialism, I merely stated that the concentration of wealth generated under capitalism allows for such corruption to take place and that's for the simple fact that economic power translates into political power. Keep in mind I'm not advocating for a "vanguard" party, and anyone who isn't a marxist-leninist isn't either. What I am advocating is that people like you and I congregate together to figure out the best way to run society on the community level. We would have to establish some sort of system where community members could come together to affect community decisions (probably something similar to a Workers' Council.) Relevant link:
We have seen states like this in the past. The USSR, GDR, Vietnam, China (to some extent, its complicated. the whole one China two systems. Which tbh should actually be three systems but I digress), Cuba. All of these are "workers democracies." All have been failures (if they haven't adapted like China and Vietnam to a lesser extent). Corruption is rampant, quality of life is low and freedom is pretty much non existent.
I will agree that those states were not perfect, but they also had to deal with the real world and their material circumstances. To say that these states were all failures is simply misleading. Yes they had problems, but the fact that the USSR was able to advance from a feudal economy into a robust industrial powerhouse in time for WWII is no small task. In fact, there are surveys where a majority those russians who can remember life under communism prefer it to what they deal with now. Not to say that it was perfect again, but most of those states were already in rough shape before their respective revolutions took place already. I really can't speak for china or the other states because I haven't read much about them, but ultimately I would say that the circumstances were just not there for a successful socialist revolution, and in some cases such as vietnam they did in fact devolve into brutal dictatorships.
Besides, how many times did france fail to establish capitalism before they finally had their bourgeois liberal democracy? There have been plenty of failed capitalist revolutions in history simply because it was not their time due to material circumstance or whatever other limiting factors. I think that now, in a world that is globally connected with the most productive machines man has ever seen built, we can devise and economic system that can provide everyone with at the very least all of life's necessities. Also, there are plenty of capitalist countries in the world where "freedom" (this word gets thrown around too, much like socialism does and is quite ambiguous) is scarce. Mexico and parts of latin america come to mind. Corruption can happen anywhere where a few people control all of the wealth, whether it's a beaurocratic state or a corporation.
Interesting you brought up the Nordic Countries though. Yes they are social democracies however the Nordic System is really something very different and I'd argue the best system there is. You mind find this surprising, but the Nordic countries are some of the most Pro Capitalism and pro market economies in the world. They rank incredibly high in economic freedom. Here the markets are for the most part really free and competition is incredibly high. The issue is crony capitalism that exists in the US and the way these companies distort laws to prevent competition. This is coupled with a strong welfare state. This means that the increased freedom and choice offered by a free market is there as are the safety nets. It is "cuddly capitalism." These countries have some of the lowest corruption and are often regarded as the best governed in the world. So capitalism isn't inherently bad.
I made that distinction for the very fact that the nordic countires aren't socialist and for some reason everyone seems to think so, so I clarified. The nordic countries are also an exception, and most certainly not a rule to capitalism, at least today's neoliberal capitalism.
Also, there's no need to discern between crony capitalism and regular capitalism as I would argue that they're both the same captialism. The only difference is that in the past the level of corruption was more tolerable and less transparent to the general public because the internet wasn't around to expose all the fraud going on the minute it happened, and there was an organized labor movement that could put capital in check to make sure that workers had some bargaining power. However since then the capitalist class has vehemently attacked any gains made by the labor movement, as it has been declining over the years, while enshrining the doctrine of austerity and neoliberalism into law to ensure their rule. Perhaps the nordic countries were able to establish some pretty strong laws in favor of labor or still has strong unions (you tell me, I'd honestly like to know), but I hear that austerity and neoliberalism is knocking on the door over there too. It is in the rest of Europe anyway, so enjoy it while it lasts I suppose.
Anyway, this discussion seems to be going better than the reddit comments section, because I haven't had the urge to flame the shit out of you like I do there, so that's good (that's why I came here, to get away from that). But yes, I bet we could both write books about it haha.
Just to clairfy though, what I understand to be socialism would be regular people coming together to collectively plan on how they want to run their communities and the means of production, and building a bottom-up infrastructure of government. Is this possible? Well we've seen embryos of it happen and there are examples in the Wikipedia page I linked earlier, but obviously it hasn't yet been implemented fully on a national scale. At the end of the day, I think the only way we'll see our interests represented in any government is if we as working people come together to form an organization that represents and pushes for those interests.