Thursday, January 27, 2011

HUM 221: Socialism Reading

(Under construction)

Probably the best site for researching Marxist histories, theories and concepts: Marxists Internet Archive

For an introduction to the wide range of actually existing socialist economics ignored in Nancy Love's chapter, check out the only magazine I am currently subscribing to Monthly Review

"The history of any country, presented as the history of a family, conceals fierce conflicts of interest (sometimes exploding, most often repressed) between conquerors and conquered, masters and slaves, capitalists and workers, dominators and dominated in race and sex. And in such a world of conflict, a world of victims and executioners, it is the job of thinking people, as Albert Camus suggested, not to be on the side of the executioners."

--Howard Zinn, A People's History of the United States

"Which Side Are You On" by The Dropkick Murphys

The People Speak (2009 documentary commemorating Howard Zinn's landmark history book A People's History of the United States and its companion volume Voices of a People's History of the United States)

Bill Moyers states:

There's a long tradition in America of people power, and no one has done more to document it than the historian, Howard Zinn. Listen to this paragraph from his most famous book. Quote: "If democracy were to be given any meaning, if it were to go beyond the limits of capitalism and nationalism, this would not come, if history were any guide, from the top. It would come through citizen's movements, educating, organizing, agitating, striking, boycotting, demonstrating, threatening those in power with disruption of the stability they needed." This son of a working class family got a job in the Brooklyn shipyards and then flew as a bombardier during World War II. He went to NYU on the G.I. Bill, taught history at Spellman College in Atlanta, where he was first active in the Civil Rights movement, and then became a professor of political science at Boston University.

There, he and his students sought a more down-to-earth way of looking at American history. And when no book could provide it, Zinn decided to write one. Since his publication in 1980, "A People's History of the United States" has sold more than two million copies.

The British political philosopher Edmund Burke, cited as a major influence for conservatives and liberals, is revered for his attacks on The French Revolution. Socialists would make the case that he is willfully ignoring the historical violence that led to the revolution and is hypocritical in celebrating the "Glorious Revolution of 1688" as a more "civilized" means for addressing injustice. Here is Julien Bell at the 2010 Socialist Forum providing a different perspective on the cause and effects of The French Revolution:

Julien Bell's "A People's History of the French Revolution" (audio)

So the beginning question in the reading that Nancy S. Love throws out for us "Is Socialism dead?" What do you think? Why or why not?

Nancy S. Love provides us with an incomplete, awkward and hazy introduction to Socialism, but to be fair, and she remarks upon this, it is a vast history that is difficult to summarize in a small chapter. Unfortunately, she compounds the mess of a chapter by not updating it for the 2nd edition to cover Latin American socialist movements and other current resistance movements which would have given a different understanding of Socialism's potential and its current relevance for our times:

The Take (Canada/Argentina: Avi Lewis, 2004)

South of the Border (USA: Oliver Stone, 2009)
"There's a revolution underway in South America, but most of the world doesn't know it. Oliver Stone sets out on a road trip across five countries to explore the social and political movements as well as the mainstream media's misperception of South America while interviewing seven of its elected presidents. In casual conversations with Presidents Hugo Chavez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Cristina Kirchner (Argentina), as well as her husband and ex-President Nestor Kirchner, Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), and Raul Castro (Cuba), Stone gains unprecedented access and sheds new light upon the exciting transformations in the region."

Not to mention vibrant economic and environmental struggles in the global south:

Blue Gold: World Water Wars (USA: Sam Bozzo, 2008)
[Includes Bolivian resistance to colonialization/privatization of their water resources)

Crude (USA: Joe Berlinger, 2009)

The End of Poverty (USA: Philippe Diaz, 2008)

and increasingly in the USA

Inside Job (USA: Charles Ferguson, 2010)

The Americans for a long time have been providing the European world with the proof that the bourgeois republic is the republic of capitalist businessmen in which politics is business like any other.

--Friedrich Engels in a letter to an American friend in 1893


secretina said...

I thought you would like this song but I couldn't find a video for it.

Michael Benton said...

Do you have a copy of the cd--can you burn a copy for me?

secretina said...

yup i can do that!