Saturday, March 26, 2016

"Today, by calling yourself a socialist, you signal a break with and critique of an economic and political order that is rigged against you."

(3 of 4)

Basketball-laden holiday weekends are death for readership, but socialists like me can take heart in the possibilities.

The Long March of Bernie’s Army, by Harold Meyerson (The American Prospect)

Where it came from; where it’s headed.

... This is something new under the political sun. At no time in U.S. history have so many Americans supported a socialist presidential candidate, much less called themselves socialists. The apogee of socialists’ electoral performance came in 1912, when Eugene V. Debs won 6 percent of the vote running for president on the Socialist Party ticket. What’s more, the mystery of this socialist emergence is deepened by the fact that there is no visible organization in the United States that is recruiting people to socialism. The Democratic Socialists of America (of which I’m a vice-chair) has just several thousand members, and is almost entirely absent from many American cities. At first glance, this new socialist presence just seems to have sprung up, unsummoned, unannounced.

And yet, it clearly has been building for years. Its emergence was foretold by Occupy Wall Street, and the polls that showed most Americans looked positively upon its message—that the 1 percent has flourished at the expense of the 99 percent—if not on the protesters themselves. It was foretold by the surprising rise to bestseller status of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, by the success of the Fight for 15 movement in prompting cities and states to raise the minimum wage, and by two movements (in themselves, non-socialist, but nonetheless radicalizing) of the minority young: the Dreamers, demanding citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and Black Lives Matter, demanding an end to discriminatory criminal justice. More broadly, it was foretold by the rise of a distinct civic left: With millennials and minorities reshaping urban America, 27 of the nation’s 30 largest cities now have Democratic mayors—the greatest urban partisan imbalance in the nation’s history. Many of those cities have enacted groundbreaking progressive legislation—instituting and raising the minimum wage, mandating paid sick days, forbidding their police forces from cooperating with federal immigration authorities, giving collective-bargaining rights to independent contractors.

What’s the substance of the new American socialism?

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