The Specter of #Socialism2012

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I have been using Twitter to follow the Socialism 2012 conference in Chicago. It is admittedly a strange medium to get a sense of what is going on at a conference, but it has made enough of an impression on me to want to post something. The tweets have occasionally made a point worth noting, or have alerted followers to a good book. However, in the main they have ranged from bromides (“workers and oppressed of all nations unite” being the most hackneyed) to downright dangerous (“Wisconsin defeat an example of failed Horizontilism. Must take power of the state or movement fails in long run.”). Obviously part of the problem is the medium, which only allows for slogany utterances. But my worry is that part of the problem is also the socialists. My impression from the tweets is that there remains very little evolution in the thinking, that class reductionism is still pervasive, that the disastrous seize-the-state mentality remains common. And also, it seems, there are quite a lot of young activists just discovering socialism and being energized by these dead-end ideas. Of course, again, my methodology is certainly flawed. I have only a limited glimpse of the event. But I worry that had I been there, attending all the sessions, my fears would have been confirmed. There remains, I’m afraid, a crusty and resolute Old Left, and it possesses some inexplicable but inexhaustible reserve of energy that it uses to maintain its death grip on its antiquated ideas. To the extent my fears are justified, then socialism as it is being imagined today is much more an obstacle than a path to a better world.

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