Politics & Society

1. How can we communicate this message to the broad majority of Americans who are by any standard of Economics, poor?
2. Can socialism in whatever form gain political traction in the United States/Europe without revolution?
3. Can socialism and religion get along?

1. I use the sad trajectory of Youngstown, Ohio - my birthplace - as an illustration of all the complex, enduring social costs of our economic system that never get figured into the calculations that justify what corporations do. The only real option I see is a large, organized, unified movement of Americans finally fed up with what has been happening, not distracted by the hunt for scapegoats (e.g. tea parties), able to mobilize to change a system that is not working except for a tiny few at the top. In such a movement we can collectively overmatch the funds used by the corporations to control politics and the mass media and we would already have the momentum. I hope you will consider supporting such a movement, and encourage you to visit my non-profit which advocates for such change: democracyatwork.info

2. I have little doubt that a new socialist left is already slowly emerging. The reason is simple: socialism was born with capitalism, is its shadow/other, and is provoked and revived by capitalism's own mechanisms (e.g. crises like this one). Those who suffer, like those able to see and sympathize with the suffering, caused by the deep irrationality of capitalism (e.g. imposing austerity on a recessionary economy, enlarging the homeless population alongside the empty homes, deepening the wealth and income inequalities that helped to cause the crisis during the crisis, etc.) will sooner or later rise from a focus on fixing the system to fundamentally changing it. At that point - unique in each culture and indeed in each individual - the rediscovery of the rich accumulated theoretical and practical tradition of socialism resumes. Marx and Marxism are rediscovered. I don't know if what results will use the name socialism or some other(s), but it will in any case be a new and unique outgrowth of an extension from socialism. And part of its differences from traditional socialism will emerge from flaws and critiques of the earlier experiments (Soviet, Chinese, etc) that will clear the way. Anyway, that is how the situation seems to me as I do both public speaking and media work and encounter the profound shifting already underway in the consciousness of so many in the US.

3. Socialism, Marxism and religion have often gotten along very well indeed. Though under external, often political circumstances, they have been bitter enemies. That alone suggests that the larger social context shapes how they interact. See for example, the article on the Irish bishops' recent critique of capitalism. Liberation theology was the effort to combine Roman Catholicism and Marxism that attracted and persuaded millions before the Vatican opposed it. It is still widely influential especially in Latin America. One of my best students over the years, who combined his Jesuit priesthood with Marxism, believed that the two could be and often were compatible partners. I suspect that just as Marxists who take religion seriously will find themselves a particular kind of Marxist, so too will believers who take Marxism seriously thereby become particular sorts of believers. Indeed, religion and mass commitments to Marxism have coexisted especially well in Italy for a long time. And the same applies to non-Marxist variants of socialism.

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