Bhaskar Sunkara, who is a vice chair of the Democratic Socialists of America wrote an op-ed piece for the NYT a while back: Socialism’s Future May Be Its Past

In it, he sets out three possible "destinations" for where we are using the somewhat contrived metaphor of rail stations as an homage to Lenin's return to Russia. "Finland Station" in the quote below represents the leftmost branch that he lays out in the railway of society.

    But there is a third alternative: back to “Finland Station,” with all the lessons of the past. This time, people get to vote. Well, debate and deliberate and then vote — and have faith that people can organize together to chart new destinations for humanity.

    Stripped down to its essence, and returned to its roots, socialism is an ideology of radical democracy. In an era when liberties are under attack, it seeks to empower civil society to allow participation in the decisions that affect our lives. A huge state bureaucracy, of course, can be just as alienating and undemocratic as corporate boardrooms, so we need to think hard about the new forms that social ownership could take.

Then, Counter Punch published a response by Alan Jones of Socialist Alternative a couple of days ago: “Finland Station” and the Struggle for Socialism Today

    Bhaskar seems to be unaware of the democratic role of the soviets, while implying there was something fundamentally undemocratic about the Russian Revolution. While appealing for a return to the “Finland station” he insists that things will be different this time around. The key difference, he says, is that “This time, people get to vote. Well, debate and deliberate and then vote”. But the Bolsheviks did “debate and deliberate and then vote,” quite often in fact. If they hadn’t done that, both internally and in the soviets, the October revolution would not have been successful.

I thought it was an interesting exchange, both the pieces themselves, and in the context of where the American left is at right now.


1) Thank you for starting this discussion.

2) Fuck both authors in the neck.

Here's why I hate modern socialists: They can't have a discussion that doesn't hinge on (A) nomenclature (B) history (C) semantics so you end up having a historic discussion of the nomenclature of semantics or a semantic discussion of the nomenclature of history or a nomenclatural discussion of the history of semantics and somehow, because the entire body politic of American socialists is so far up their own ass they can no longer see daylight, any discussion as to why a person who isn't already a resident of Eugene, Oregon with a masters in revolutionary politics in mid-century Spain should give the first fuck about any of it is assumed as solved by inspection and it's NOT.

    Amid this turmoil, some fear a return to Finland Station via the avuncular shrugs of avowedly socialist leaders like Mr. Sanders and Jean-Luc Mélenchon in France. But the threat to democracy today is coming from the right, not the left. Politics seems to present two ways forward, both decidedly non-Stalinist forms of authoritarian collectivism.

PROTIP: "non-Stalinist forms of authoritarian collectivism" is the language of self-parody. That shit doesn't even belong on Tumblr.

    But this is not the same as the goal of socialism: a global, classless society which does away with capitalism’s organized apparatus of repression and replaces it with a new political order based on mass democratic organs of working people and the oppressed.

HOLY FUCKING SHIT. Working examples of American socialism:

- Medicare.

- Social Security.

- The Post Office.

- Amtrak.

- The TVA.

- The FSA.

Working examples of global socialism:

- Airbus.

- Eurail.

- Healthcare everywhere in the developed world but the US.

- Hanjin.


I simply don't understand why the navel-gazing academics of the Left Wing can't look up from their fucking kombucha and acknowledge that small-S socialism is nothing more than government for the people, by the people, and fuckin'A the greatest progress Americans have ever achieved is by banding together and supporting the least among us for the advancement of all. And sweet jesus fucking christ if they'd try speaking in the language of the people who need socialism, in terms of what those people would get out of socialism, they might not be hated and mocked by mutherfuckers like me.

posted by keifermiller: 346 days ago