The Times They Are A'Changin?

Public opinion polling can be a notoriously unreliable "science," so we shouldn't necessarily put too much stock in the results of every poll we read. But today I stumbled across some poll results that underline the tremendous opportunities that the economic crisis has opened up for democratic socialists. According to Rasmussen Reports, only 53% of Americans, a bare majority, think capitalism is better than socialism, while 20% think socialism is better and 27% unsure. Even more striking are the results among people under 30, i.e. the people we should be organizing. Only 37% in this age group prefer capitalism and 33% prefer socialism, with 30% undecided.

 

Hendrick Hertzberg's take on the poll likely contains significant truth: "What I do conclude is that all the conservative shouting about how Obama is a socialist has had the unexpected effect of educating a sizable portion of the public to think of socialism as synonymous with "European socialism" (i.e., democracy plus private industry plus nice, soft, 400-thread safety nets) instead of Soviet-style "socialism" (i.e., totalitarianism plus gigantism plus poverty). If only Norman Thomas and Michael Harrington were around to see this happy day". But before we get ready to storm the barricades, a measure of realism is in order. The poll questions did not define either capitalism or socialism, so we can't be sure how people are conceiving such abstratctions in their minds. And the idea of a "free market economy" apparently attracts 70% support in polls, much more than the amount of respondents that say they support "capitalism." As the poll report notes, this may demonstrate that many people who would otherwise support capitalism think that the system has abandoned "free market" values, but it also likely demonstrates the ways in which the wording of a question conditions results. How many Americans are going to say they oppose something with the word "free" in its name, even if they might do so in their actual political activity and consciousness?

Whether or not Western European social market economies represent some form of socialism is a matter for debate, but it does seem to me that the introduction of the concept of "European socialism" into political discussion has led many people to actually investigate the merits of such a model and to draw positive conclusions about it. Couple this with a growing chorus of economists and commentators praising the "Swedish model" of recapitalization and temporary nationalization of insolvent banks, and it's entirely possible that something of an ideological shift may be occuring, however small and ephemeral it may ultimately prove to be. But considering the fact that no broad-based social movement for a progressive restructuring of the economy and society can come into being without a prior shift in the ideological/cultural realm, we have reason to be excited. Let's not let this once in a generation opportunity go to waste.


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Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump

February 17, 2017 · $20.00 USD

Location: MayDay Space
Where: 176 St Nicholas Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11237
When: Friday, February 17th at 6 PM to Sunday, February 19th to 4 PM

Political Context

This Presidents’ Day weekend, the Young Democratic Socialists will gather for our annual winter conference in New York City titled Revolution at the Crossroads: Igniting the Socialist Resistance Against Trump. We did not choose the name lightly. In doing so, we call for leftists to collectively confront Trump and Trumpism at every possible opportunity. When a Trump administration attempts mass deportations of undocumented workers, when it attempts to register Muslims or roll back worker protections, when it attempts to take away reproductive, LGTBQ, civil, or any other rights, then we must militantly resist to prevent such measures.

To succeed, this must be explicitly socialist resistance. With liberalism having repeatedly shown itself incapable of combating the far right, it is now the time for socialists to openly declare our place in building the mass, multi-racial, and working class movement necessary for defeating the Trump administration. In this struggle, millennials will play an outsized role. That is why this conference comes at such a critical time—together we must create spaces for democratic and strategic discussion, spaces to gain organizing skills, and most importantly, spaces to form networks of young radicals for the future struggles ahead. These spaces will only come together if socialists come together. Join us this Presidents Weekend and help ignite the movement to defeat the Trump administration, continue the political revolution, and build the socialist alternative.

Key Deadlines

  • January 8th: Travel Scholarship for Air Travel (for application see below)
  • January 15th: Travel Scholarship for Non-Air Travel (ex: bus, car, train, etc.)
  • February 3rd: Early Bird Registration Ends - Tickets prices go up from $5 to $10
  • February 10th: Free Housing - We have limited free housing. You need to first register, then you will be sent an application for free housing.

Apply for a travel scholarship here! (First Deadline January 8, 2017)

Check out the working program (subject to change)