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The Socialist Awakening: What's Different…

The Socialist Awakening: What's Different Now About the Left (edição: 2020)

de John B. Judis (Autor)

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Título:The Socialist Awakening: What's Different Now About the Left
Autores:John B. Judis (Autor)
Informação:Columbia Global Reports (2020), 127 pages

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The Socialist Awakening: What's Different Now About the Left de John B. Judis

Adicionado recentemente porOrderMustBe, nwchap, ericlee, RandyRasa, owl8000

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In 2002, John Judis wrote a book predicting a new Democratic majority. It was his riposte to Kevin Phillips' The Emerging Republican Majority (1969) which correctly predicted a quarter century of conservative Republican dominance of American politics. Judis argued then that demographic trends indicated that the Democrats were on the cusp of locking in a majority that would sustain them for decades to come. And then, in the 2004 Presidential election, the Democratic candidate went down to defeat at the hands of an unimpressive and unsuccessful Republican President.

In his newest book, Judis argues that after many decades in hibernation, the socialist ideals espoused by Eugene V. Debs have undergone a resurgence of sorts in the United States. This is undoubtedly true. He points not only to the Bernie Sanders campaigns in 2016 and 2020, but also to the spectacular rise of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the successor organisation to Debs' Socialist Party. Judis is scathingly critical of some people in the DSA leadership who come from sectarian Trotskyist backgrounds. Those people reject the very strategy (known as realignment) that was first embraced by DSA founder Michael Harrington in the 1960s and that stood behind Bernie Sanders' campaigns. Instead of trying to create yet another failed third party, democratic socialists need to engage with the Democratic Party, which is where their natural audience (trade unionists, feminists, environmentalists, people of colour) are to be found. I think Judis is right about that.

Where his book goes astray is in lengthy discussions of various academic disputes about the relevance of this or that strand of socialist thinking, with Judis coming down firmly in the camp that rejects "orthodox Marxism". He does, however, seem to have a warm spot for "social democracy" which is good thing. It would be useful in these kinds of discussions to get beyond the tired Scandinavian examples that are always cited and to look at some more radical socialist experiments that managed to remain democratic, including both the kibbutz movement in Israel and the short-lived Georgian Democratic Republic of 1918-21, which was led by the Mensheviks.

Judis inserts a chapter about Corbynism which is largely correct and adequate. But he completely misses the significance of the debate about the rise of anti-Semitism on the British Left. He notes in passing that "Corbyn was plagued by accusations of anti-Semitism" and concedes that "some of which were justified". Judis' book was written long before Corbyn was suspended by his own party -- an event unprecedented in British political history. This had everything to do with the "accusations" of anti-Semitism. The book would have been a better one, I think, had it stayed more focussed on U.S. politics, which Judis understands very well. ( )
  ericlee | Nov 1, 2020 |
A well-researched and detailed look at the emerging socialist movement. Is this something to be frightened of, or simply the next evolutionary step in capitalism? This is a very good history, providing context and commentary to help in understanding this important topic. ( )
  RandyRasa | Oct 25, 2020 |
Is socialism the flavor of the moment, picked up by a younger generation that has no clue how horrific it would be? John Judis, whose life has been socialism, says it is far more than that. In The Socialist Awakening, he shows that today’s vision of socialism is far different. This is not your great grandfather’s socialism. It has been molded and adapted for the 21st century by thinkers who are witnessing the horrors of an unfettered and corrupt market economy. Socialism is primed to be a major factor in national politics for the foreseeable future. There might actually be a choice between the two parties going forward.

First, how do Millennials not cringe at the word? For one thing, no one is seriously talking about a takeover. There will be no glorious revolution. Millennials can plainly see socialism working beautifully with in the capitalist system, without destroying what has been positive. Judis says “They see socialism as developing within capitalism, the way capitalism developed within feudalism. Socialism creates institutions and laws that fulfill the ethical ideals of liberty, equality, justice, democracy, and social solidarity.”

And when the young advance guard talks about socialism, it is not defensive, but analytical. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says “When Millennials talk about socialism, we’re talking about countries and systems that already exist that have already proven to be successful in the modern world. We’re talking about single-payer healthcare that has already been successful in in many different models, from Finland to Canada to the UK.”

So the dreaded socialism does not raise panic among Millennials. It is closer to jealousy, as America fails to deliver on dream after dream for its own citizens.

The book is compact and compressed and easy to digest. Judis quickly reviews the various stages socialism has evolved through, from purist Marxism, to various colors of populism, through its all but total disappearance (in the USA), to its evident resurgence. It is a valuable overview. It’s good to know where all this came from and why what is being proposed today is a far better, more reasonable and achievable version of an idea that has kept changing without boundaries. Principles, sure. But not boundaries. Socialism, like every political force, has been all over the place, and Judis has collected it in tight paragraphs for all to see and understand.

This is the final book of a trilogy, the others being devoted to populism and nationalism. But socialism is the most controversial, and for many, especially the older generations, the most fearsome. The very word alone is enough to stir fury among the boomers, because it is somehow the opposite of total freedom. There is nothing about it that could possibly be of benefit to Americans, and they dismiss anything that smacks of it before it can be discussed.

For Millennials, membership should have its privileges. If the USA is the most advanced and the richest nation, why is there so much misery, poverty, sickness, debt and self-destruction? There doesn’t have to be, and the evidence is just across borders. They see it as insanity that the US is so far behind.

The lightning rod has been Bernie Sanders. Judis says Sanders is the most important (American) figure in socialism since Eugene Debs, who ran for president numerous times and brought socialism from church-like clubs and assemblies to a nationally-recognized political force.

In the 2016 primaries, Sanders got more votes from 18-29 year olds than Clinton and Trump combined. By January 2020, polls were showing that well over 2/3 think government should be doing more to solve problems. The catalysts, Judis says, were the financial crisis, climate change, and Trump. The result is an insurgence within the Democratic Party (it couldn’t possibly happen in today’s Republican Party), clearly favored by the young.

Even though Sanders didn’t get the nomination, he has clearly moved the goalposts to the left. The Democratic Party now talks in Sanders’ terms, nothing like what it was like under Obama or Clinton or Carter. Biden has asked Sanders to put his people in Biden’s taskforces looking at issues and policies. This alone has changed the political dynamic in the USA.

Judis draws clear lines among socialism, populism and nationalism. But he insists socialism needs nationalism to work. The long-held belief of socialists that everything should be universal, that everyone should help everyone and love everyone – stops at the border for Judis. He says it can’t work if people can move to the USA and leave at will. The USA can’t provide jobs to all comers. Free healthcare can’t simply be offered to everyone who seeks it from anywhere in the world. He says nationalism is a key component to making it work within capitalism. And it needs to be within the borders of the nation-state.

We’re nowhere near that point.

In a chapter on British socialism, Judis traces its more successful trail, with all its ups and downs. It is very real, and there are lessons to be found if Americans want to look. Much as Trump is obsessed with dismantling everything ever achieved by Obama, so Thatcher was obsessed with dismantling everything ever achieved by Labour. It has tortured the British economy and society ever since. Judis dismisses political compromises like British Labour’s “Third Way” under Blair as misguided, ineffective and unworkable. A third way is nothing to vote for.

In Judis’ view, capitalism is not going away. It is too well entrenched and has too many accomplishments going for it to just be tossed aside. Millennials see that. They are not about overthrow. They do not have manifestos, militias or martyrs on offer. What socialism means to them is greater equality and enhanced social services. To them, Trump has pushed the pendulum about as far to the right as it can go. The time has come for it to swing back. And he, the pandemic, the recession and climate change have primed it to do so.

David Wineberg ( )
3 vote DavidWineberg | Aug 6, 2020 |
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