American Socialist

The socialist who’s turning American politics upside-down
In 2013, Kshama Sawant became one of the most unlikely and most exciting politicians in the United States not only because she grew up in Mumbai and earned a PhD in economics, but also because she ran for Seattle City Council as a militant socialist, basing her campaign on a bold push to raise the city’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, more than double the national minimum wage. She won the election, and in 2014, Seattle’s mayor signed into law a $15 minimum wage.

This is the story of how Sawant toppled a sixteen year incumbent who was backed by a powerful Democratic Party establishment, and reshaped Seattle’s political culture around demands for economic and social justice, reviving national debate around municipal socialism in the process. This is an inspiring call for more movements to speak to the scores of young and old people who are looking for alternatives to capitalism.


  • Past the Horse Race: US Politics Beyond the Election

    Never particularly attentive to the lives of ordinary people — or developments outside the major hubs of government, capital, and entertainment — the American news media becomes especially myopic and trivial during the presidential election season, which seems to grow longer and more encompassing every four years.

    In an effort to better understand some of the stories being left behind by the horse race, we asked writers and activists from across the United States for brief reports on political developments and campaigns, both electoral and otherwise, that have been significant in their respective regions over the past year. Below are responses from Jim Vrabel in Boston, Madison Van Oort in Iowa, Kali Akuno in Mississippi, Darwin BondGraham in the San Francisco Bay Area, Marisela B. Gomez in Baltimore, and Charles Tonderai Mudede in Seattle.

    While these six reports represent too small and arbitrary a sample to allow for any broad conclusions, it is striking that struggles over housing and land use are at the center of nearly every one of them.

    A protest in Baltimore opposing public financing for Port Covington. via Popular Resistance.   

    Jim Vrabel: Housing and Income Inquality in Boston

    “Everybody complains about the weather,” the old saying used to be (before global warming) “but nobody does anything about it.” Nowadays, everybody complains about housing prices and income inequality. In Boston and Massachusetts, some people are doing something about it.

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  • Arun Gupta on Kshama Sawant's victory

    On November 3rd, Verso author Kshama Sawant of the Socialist Alternative party was re-elected to Seattle's City Council. Below, writer Arun Gupta discusses the victory. 

    Sawant beat the establishment at its own game. Now comes the hard part. 

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  • Kshama Sawant, A Real Socialist Alternative? - Praise for Sam Gindin and Leo Panitch

    In an article in The StrangerCharles 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:

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