This month marks 120 years since the founding of the Socialist Party of America. The party was especially strong in rural areas like Oklahoma — success that the socialist movement could actually replicate today.
Chris Maisano is a Jacobin contributing editor and a member of Democratic Socialists of America.
Ronald Suny’s Stalin: Passage to Revolution traces Joseph Stalin’s trajectory from his boyhood in Georgia to the Russian Revolution in 1917. In an interview, Suny explains the specificities of the Georgian socialist movement, Stalin’s role in the revolution, and why Stalinism was “bloody, ruthless,” and “the nadir of the Soviet experiment.”
A key challenge for the Left in the coming years will be to reject attempts to stoke tensions with China — tensions the Biden administration has made worse in its early months.
The pervasive mythmaking about the supposed wisdom of the founders has covered up a central truth: the US Constitution is an antidemocratic mess. Our task is to push a program of political and economic transformation — so the United States can become, for the first time, a truly democratic society.
A looser union with more room for state and regional autonomy, as two recent books advocate, would cede much of America to the mercies of the Right.
Our still small but growing socialist movement now has a chance to make a real impact.
Leo Panitch emphasized three core themes throughout his career: the process of class formation, the key role of political parties in facilitating this process, and the need to transform the state instead of wielding it in its current form. In doing so, he gave the democratic-socialist movement an invaluable trove of resources to change the world with.
Republicans have staunchly defended the Electoral College for years, but they may soon find that the only way to remain a viable national party is to support a national popular vote. That could open the door to finally eliminating the terribly undemocratic Electoral College.
The nightmare scenario of the winner of the Electoral College losing the popular vote didn’t happen this time around. But the Electoral College is still a fundamentally anti-majoritarian, anti-democratic institution. We should absolutely scrap it.
The US political system was intentionally set up to thwart popular democracy. To win Medicare for All or any other transformative measures, we’ll need to push for radical political reform that finally democratizes the country’s institutions.
If New York City is going to avoid catastrophic austerity measures in response to the COVID-19–induced fiscal crisis, the city’s municipal unions will have to summon a fighting spirit that has been missing for a very long time.
Since its establishment, the Electoral College has stood out as one of America’s most unpopular political institutions. But the long history of failed reform attempts hasn’t made this outmoded institution any less undemocratic — it’s time we finally abolished the Electoral College.
Before the resurgence of socialist activism in the United States, Jacobin Reading Groups provided a halfway house between passive, primarily intellectual engagement with the socialist project and full-fledged organizational commitment for thousands of people. They played a real role in resurrecting the US left.
In the face of climate crisis and police killings, thinking about American federalism can seem terribly boring. But the fragmentation of the US state and the dilution of popular power are at the root of many of our most pressing problems — and we desperately need fundamental changes to the country’s constitutional order.
Ross Douthat wants to tempt socialists with his argument that this wave of racial justice protest is hopelessly in thrall to the logic of woke capitalism. Don’t take the bait.
In the 1960s, an upstart union of New York City social workers forged alliances with welfare recipients while fighting to improve public services at the bargaining table. They’re a model for public-sector unions today, which should be pushing for better services and struggling to democratize the state.
Many in the newly reborn American socialist movement fervently hope that someday, in the face of numerous structural barriers, they can get a viable new party off the ground. But unfortunately, we can expect unions to be among the last to get on board with such a party.
Instead of prompting the coordinated, national response that’s needed, this pandemic is exacerbating one of the most destructive and enduring themes of US political life: the sectional conflict between states, and between town and country. Progress in battling coronavirus will continue to be hamstrung by our dysfunctional federalist system.
The US’s federalist system undermines even the most basic attempts to carry out effective national action. In pandemics, that’s a recipe for death and disaster.
Our global crisis of democracy is real, but its solution isn’t rebuilding political norms. It’s rebuilding working-class power.