Our current political arrangement doesn't seem to offer much of a future. The choice before us appears to be between, on the one hand, a technocratic neoliberalism that values rhetorical gestures of social inclusion over true equality and, on the other, a brutal right-wing populism channeling anger in the worst directions. As socialists, we know this to be a false choice. To be a socialist today is to believe that more, not less, democracy will help solve social ills, that ordinary people must control the systems that shape their lives and, most importantly, that we can work to realize these possibilities in the form of a world beyond capitalism. For those interested in seeking an end to the vast inequities of our age, this book is a primer on socialism for the 21st century, and an entry to imagining a better world that we can create.
Join us as we garner lessons from the past and imagine a better future together.
ADA Accessibility: yes
We will be reading Chapter 1: A Day in the Life of a Socialist Citizen, pages 11-29 of this PDF. It's a quick and enjoyable read that you can download here.
A Brief Description of the Reading:
Books like this often start by telling you what's wrong with the world today. Throughout history, radicals and socialists have been sustained less by a clear vision of socialism than by a visceral opposition to the horrors around them. Rather than make the case for socialism, they make the case against capitalism. Bhaskar is doing something different. In this chapter, we're comparing what life is like under two very different systems - our current US Capitalist reality and Swedish Social Democratic society - and contrasting those realities to life in a future United States under Democratic Socialism. Bhaskar whimsically takes us through the rote reality of working in a Jon Bon Jovi pasta sauce factory in New Jersey, where even though life can be enjoyed outside of work (cause after all we're not literally handcuffed to our jobs), we see our beloved values of democracy and freedom bump up against the reality of our economic life, which grants them no access, and the crippling effect of how this limit impacts our everyday choices. Then we imagine working in the same conditions under Social Democracy in Sweden, where workers have more of a say in the workplace and the stability of their lives isn't determined by the whims of competition. We see that life in this world is good, as a worker you fare much better there than in our American context, but without the elimination of private ownership of capital, this life will always be vulnerable to the threat of capital flight and rollback of gains won for working people. So Bhaskar takes us a step further in imagining an even better alternative, one where democracy is extended to the political and social spheres of life under a Socialist US and everyone has real freedom to do more of things they enjoy in life.
We're looking forward to discussing this piece with you all.