The United States is unique among the world’s democracies in the relative absence of socialism as an accepted worldview and political movement. Unlike most democracies, the U.S. does not have socialist party capable of winning major elections – a fact that might surprise some Tea Party members who insist that President Barak Obama is himself a socialist!
Yet socialism has played an important role in American history—especially here in Minnesota, where socialists were at the heart of the labor and progressive farm movements, were elected mayors and city council members in both Minneapolis and St. Paul and played a critical role in the foundation of the Farmer-Labor Party. And signs that history may be repeating itself surfaced in Minneapolis this past November when Ty Moore of Socialist Alternative came within 229 votes of being elected to the city council.
Given the growing divide between the 1 percent and the rest of us and the continued ability of corporate America to shape our political choices, it is no wonder that socialist ideas are making a comeback. And while large numbers of Americans continue to favor capitalism over socialism, a 2011 poll by Pew Research showed that 49 % of respondents between the ages of 20 and 29 had a positive view of socialism compared to 43 % for capitalism. Interestingly, the same poll showed Blacks favoring socialism over capitalism by 59% to 34 % and Liberal Democrats preferring socialism by a similar margin.
Without giving too much credence to one opinion survey, the combination of social trends and renewed organizing on the ground suggests that we may be in for a renewed encounter with socialist ideas and politics. So what is socialism anyway? Is there more than one kind? What role has socialism played in our political history—and perhaps most importantly, what role will it play in the months and years ahead?
To help us think about these questions TruthtoTell’s Andy Driscoll and guest co-host Tom O’Connell welcome two guests who are deeply familiar with socialism past and present. Tune in Monday at 9am.
PETER RACHLEFF- Professor Emeritus in History, Macalester College, social justice activist
TY MOORE- Recent Socialist Alternative Minneapolis City Council Candidate
Professor Emeritus in History, Macalester College, social justice activist
Recent Socialist Alternative Minneapolis City Council Candidate