Kshama Sawant, A Real Socialist Alternative? - Praise for Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch
In an article in The Stranger, Charles Mudede writes that a socialist alternative to ruthless capitalism might have become possible, after decades of Keynesian and neo-liberal subordination of "society to economy", in Polanyi's words. He is writing about Kshama Sawant, running for the city electoral council of Seattle. A genuine socialist according to Mudede, she militates for minimum wage increases, taxing the rich, and roots her politics in class struggle. And, today, she just got elected!
In his article Mudede refers to Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, the prominent authors of the landmark The Making of Global Capitalism, in which they analyze the collusion between market and state in the rise of global capitalism, and identify domestic failures as potential springboards for political movements that would challenge the ruling system's domination. Told about Kshama Sawant, Leo Panitch declared: "Wow, that's just fantastic... That's phenomenal." Analyzing this reaction, Mudede asks himself, with kind words for both Verso and the authors of The Making of Global Capitalism:
Now why would a world-famous and influential socialist like Panitch, who recently coauthored an excellent book, The Making of Global Capitalism, published by Verso (the most highly regarded radical leftist publisher in the English-speaking world), be so impressed with what appears to be a minor political achievement of a virtually unknown economics professor?To answer this he considers how the perceived lack of alternative to capitalism was enforced by decades of economic policy that, paradoxically, were not that efficient, as the greatest period of economic growth in the US was between 1947 and 1973, "the peak moment for social democracy".
Considering Margaret Thatcher's mantra, "There is no alternative", and the persistance of global capitalism, Sam Gindin explained that: "Adolph Reed [a black American political scientist and contributor to the Nation] described [this] situation as capitalism in a moment of no working-class opposition." This can change, however. As Mudede concludes, perhaps a genuine, real-deal socialism actually became a potential alternative and will insert itself within the existing system, as did Kshama Sawant today. We will now see if a working class opposition can be heard in the hemicycle.
Visit The Stranger to read Mudede's article in full.
Visit SeattlePi to read about Sawant's victory.
October 2013 / 9781844679454