The Question of Ownership under Municipal Socialism
The issue of ownership often is considered a central theme in socialist societies. To many, socialism means state ownership of vital industries, transportation, and services, as well as nationalization of banks. Simply put, the state produces and distributes the goods and services and helps generate and control the flow of capital in society.
Under the U.S. capitalist economic system, state ownership of banks and businesses is rare and clearly unattainable on a large scale. 1 No municipal socialist administration in the United States is going to take over the financial centers and private industry in its city or town. However, traditional capitalist ownership patterns can be challenged through nonreformist reforms, such as the municipalization of utilities, co-operative housing ventures, public ownership of land, and worker-owned and worker-controlled businesses. This is exactly what the Sanders administration tried to do.
As a bona fide socialist mayor, it is not surprising that Bernard Sanders would want to municipalize something in the city of Burlington. Part of the historical legacy of socialist administrations on the local level in the United States has been the municipalization of utilities. Burlington has a history of municipalization, too. Ever since its incorporation in 1865, the city has had a publicly owned sewer system. The city created a municipally owned water system in 1866 when it bought the Burlington Aqueduct Company. In 1904, the pro-