Tags: socialism | capitalism | Smith | book

Writers Discuss Socialist USA

By    |   Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 06:55 AM

A group of socialist authors who contributed to the book Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA assembled recently for the book launch at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City to talk about their visions for a socialist America.

To introduce the flavor of the book, editor Debby Smith read this blurb from Glen Ford, executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, about the book: "The death of capitalism, sooner rather than later, is a certainty. Yet scenarios for transition to socialism, the only system that can save humanity from the accumulated contradictions of its past, are both scarce and often so generalized as to be useless to those locked in today's desperate struggle. How does the great human constellation make the ethical break from our particular spaces in the here and now? In answering this question, socialists must apply universal principles to a whole world of particularities, starting with the movement in which they are directly engaged. Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA has gathered under one cover some of the most gifted thinkers and activists of the American left, men and women for whom socialism is the compass that points to radical transformation, a world with a new footing fetched back from the precipice."

She concluded, "I couldn't agree more."

Smith said that she became a socialist by growing up in Boston in the 1960s and has worked in the movement her entire life. Frances Goldin, an author of the book, became a socialist at 18 and is still working in the movement at 89; a highlight for her was organizing opposition to the plans of Robert Moses to redevelop her neighborhood.

Another editor, Smith's lawyer husband, Michael, cited a Pew poll that 49 percent of respondents younger than 30 have a favorable view of the word "socialism." He added that the two most searched words on the Webster website were socialism and capitalism. He explained the structure of the book, beginning with an indictment of capitalism for failing to deliver democracy and a decent way of life for everyone. The second part consists of visions of what life would be like under socialism. The last part of the book consists of 10 articles on how socialists propose to achieve their goals. This includes a new Bill of Rights by filmmaker Michael Moore calling for guarantees of housing, employment, food, education and decent treatment in old age.

A sample of the several dozen contributors summarized their articles. Frances Fox Piven, a professor at City University of New York, presented the book as a refutation of former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's view that there is no alternative to capitalism as a way to organize society in accordance with natural law. Piven described her article as a call for a welfare system based on redistributing the stolen assets of the rich to provide a generous guaranteed subsistence income to replace the current welfare system.

This brings the discussion full circle. Most conservatives are familiar with the Thatcher quote that socialism fails when it runs out of other people's money. It is evident from this event that the socialist movement and its dedicated activists intend to put this maxim to the test. The viewers of this program can see that there are real agitators and propagandists promoting these ideas. Perhaps the moral is that conservatives should be more attentive to the relationship between their capitalist ideals and a system that can be co-opted by self-styled entrepreneurs whose only capital is political capital and who expect and demand state support for their enterprises.

(Archived video can be found here.)

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Robert-Feinberg
A group of socialist authors who contributed to the book Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA assembled recently for the book launch at the Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City to talk about their visions for a socialist America.
socialism,capitalism,Smith,book
601
2014-55-12
Wednesday, 12 Mar 2014 06:55 AM
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