I’ve taken to calling myself a democratic socialist since Bernie Sanders ran, but it’s more accurate to say we are social democrats and so are all major leftist European parties I know of. This means that we want income redistribution and a welfare state with consider protections, but we don’t actually desire to completely dismantle capitalism in the next fifty years. Anyone who tried to create a democratic socialist state would come under siege, so how could a democratic socialist state survive and thrive?
As I see it, we have to resolve a set of ideological challenges globally before any countries can have actual democratic socialism and make it last. Otherwise hostile external capitalistic states and wealthy ideologues will meddle in our elections and appeal to the baser instincts of greed and apathy that are in any state, attack the weak points, buy our democratically elected representatives, undermine the incentives, undermine the liberal education system, and undermine any attempt at a new rules-based world order. Otherwise, immigrants who want economic benefits without giving up totalitarian ideologies will enter and sabotage our democratic countries.This is what keeps me from allying myself fully with actual democratic socialism right now, even though capitalism is likely to waste our non-renewable resources and destroy itself without regulation.
During the cold war Kenneth Waltz (who created the structural realism theory of international relations) observed it is rare for democracies to fight democracies, and he suggested that is a necessary step to ending war. (The caveat being that democracies are more likely to distrust totalitarian states and to go to war to try and make them into democracies. Still, unless totalitarianism is ever desirable, then I am likely to believe that we need to spread functioning democracy to the majority of countries for peace and prosperity. )
Capitalism is just one of a bunch of ticking doomsday clocks. We ultimately have to find a solution to several problems at once because out if any of the doomsday clocks hit zero, an existential threat will rise and civilization or our species will perish.
One of those threats is the totalitarianism of Islam which is the only religion which has countries that give the death penalty to those who leave it. Several other countries like Russia and China are in an AI arms race, and in the not so distant future misaligned general AI could feed us bad information, be as bad as a nuclear war, and kill us all. We must make it as unthinkable for states like China and the USA to go to war as it is for California to go to war with Nevada, otherwise anything like democratic socialism will remain out of reach.
Also, a evolutionary psychologist and libertarian I listened to thinks that due to how we evolved we are better at managing things at a small level with interpersonal relationships, than at big level where it’s more complicated. It will take time to design systems and frameworks that compensate for those limitations, and as long as the world is a turbulent mess in Africa, the Middle East, Russia, and parts of Asia, I just don’t see any breathing room for imagination.