“Socialism” is simultaneously one of the most commonly used and most confusing terms in American politics. Does being a socialist mean advocating for the complete abolition of capitalism, markets, and private property? Does it mean supporting a higher tax rate, Medicare-for-all, and Sen. Bernie Sanders? Or does it simply mean a deep hatred of systemic injustice and the institutions that perpetuate it?
In his new book Why You Should be a Socialist Nathan J Robinson, the founder and editor-in-chief of the Current Affairs magazine, attempts to shed light on these questions. In his writing, Robinson distinguishes between a “socialist economy” (think collective ownership, worker cooperatives, single-payer health care) and what he calls a “socialist ethic": a deep sense of moral outrage that animates agents of radical change. This distinction may sound like a dodge, but I think Robinson gets at something here that — while hard to understand from the outside — is crucial to understanding today's left politics. We also discuss:
- The central role of democracy to the socialist worldview
- What it means to be a “libertarian socialist”
- What Robinson's socialist utopia would look like
- Why so many socialists have turned on Sen. Elizabeth Warren in favor of Sen. Bernie Sanders
- Robinson’s special loathing for South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
- What he believes Sanders’s “political revolution” would look like
- The lessons of Jeremy Corbyn
- Whether the deep difference between liberals and socialists is temperament
- Why “public vs. private” is often a false choice
- The challenge of economic growth
And much more.
Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky
The Anarchist FAQ by Ian McKay
The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
If you enjoyed this episode, you may also like:
Leftists vs. Liberals with Elizabeth Bruenig
Matt Bruenig’s case for single-payer health care
Why my politics are bad with Bhaskar Sunkara
My book is available for pre-order! You can find it at www.EzraKlein.com.
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