Michael Harrington (1928-1989) was the most important advocate for democratic socialism in the United States in the latter half of the twentieth century. He is widely, and deservedly, recognized for writing The Other America, a seminal exposé of poverty in the United States. However, Michael Harrington was not simply a public intellectual but a political activist who developed a vision to make democratic socialism into a major force in American life. His strategy was to realign the Democratic Party by driving out the business interests and transform it into a social democratic party. This new party of the people would then not only represent the interests of the vast majority and pass genuine reforms, but begin the transition to democratic socialism. Michael Harrington’s politics and vision have outlived him and they remain the “common sense” of much of the American left, shaping debates in the organization he founded, the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).
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More than anything, Benjamin worried in these years about the fixation on growth rates and manufacturing quotas, the intensity of the belief that capitalist production could solve the problems of despair and deprivation. Revolutions, Benjamin said, should not be seen as an ever-accelerating train. ‘Perhaps revolutions are not the train ride’, he wrote in his unpublished Arcades, ‘but the human race grabbing for the emergency brake’.
Two decades ago Nato started its 78 day bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. Using the language of peace and humanitarianism Nato dismembered Yugoslavia killing more civilians than they did soldiers. A non-stop aerial assault on the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia using more than a thousand Nato warplanes delivering 2,000 air-strikes in 40,000 sorties and with over 20,000 bombs dropped on the country.
The rabid imperialists shed crocodile tears of humanitarian concern for Albanians in Kosovo. Or so the press and its organs told us. In just a few months President Clinton bombed four countries: Sudan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Yugoslavia.
“The intelligent people on the political left have woken up to the fact that we’ve got an existential emergency that could destroy human society in the next 10 years,” he said. “It’s in the cards. A lot of us have already gone through the grief process. But these [newly awakened] people just had that enlightenment. They’re in shock. They’re maintaining a veneer of ‘It’s sort of OK.’ This is what the Green Deal [a United Kingdom government policy initiative] is about. It is an attempt to pretend that industrialization can stay the same. We can all still be wealthy. We can all still have great jobs. It is like Roosevelt’s New Deal. But the New Deal was based on the idea that we can carry on plundering nature and nothing’s going to happen. Maybe that was right in the 1930s. But it’s not right anymore. It’s a matter of physics and biology. We simply cannot maintain these levels of consumption. They haven’t reckoned with that. One of the main reasons the climate debate has not gotten into a serious mode over the last 30 years is because people who are in charge of informing the public are terrified of telling the public that they can’t have the high consumer lifestyle anymore.
Comrade Marta Harnecker has passed away.
Comrade Marta died on June 15, 2019, of cancer in Canada.
A relentless fighter, comrade Marta Harnecker (1937 – 2019) made valuable contributions in the areas of theory related to revolution for socialism in the broader Latin American perspective.
Her struggle was for a humane world.
Herbert Marcuse was so far in advance of his time that in many ways the world-left has yet to catch up with his legacy. He glimpsed the implications of women’s rights, environmentalism, and sexual liberation for a new kind of socialism at a time in which these concerns were largely downplayed and ignored by the socialist movement. In an era that valorized productivity and economic growth, Marcuse criticized the imperative for endlessly increasing production and demanded that progress be measured by more qualitative goals.
The Green Party soared in popularity in many nations in the European parliamentary elections, placing second in Germany and making gains in Finland, France and Ireland. The next president of the European Commission will likely be Bas Eickhout of the Dutch Green Party. We speak with Luisa Neubauer, a youth climate activist and member of the German Green Party, about the party’s next steps.
In 2014 I found myself travelling along the West Bank on a coach with about 30 young Palestinians. This journey was full of music and dance. Darbukas and dabkes. And I was involved. It was impossible not to be. That is what empathy is. Feeling with others and not for them. But along this journey, that empathy turned quite suddenly to sympathy. Our bus had to pass a roadblock guarded by Israel Defence Forces soldiers. Guns were pointed at our driver and he was forced to halt the bus, throwing the younger members of the group 10 feet down the aisle. As we all scrambled to our seats, I immediately sat next to a young Palestinian boy of 13.
Green parties made stunning gains in the European Elections, due to the strength of many younger voters, the grass roots insurgency of ecological school strikes and marches, and the tenacity of Green Party activists.