Just read an article in the Nation – part of the special issue on President Obama – authored by the historian Greg Grandin. He ends his article with the famous observation of Rosa Luxemburg, “Socialism or Barbarism.” And then he adds, maybe on second thought, “or Social Democracy.” On one one level of analysis, this has undeniable merit and urgency, although I do think that socialism, if it is going to resonate with tens of millions, has to be accompanied by qualifying adjectives such as democratic, participatory, peoples, etc.
But I’m getting distracted here. My main point is that Grandin’s invocation of Luxemburg fails miserably as a strategic guide at this moment when in a few short weeks Trump and his right wing party will control the main levers of federal power and much more. In these circumstances, the strategic-political imperatives are twofold. One is a many sided, many leveled defense, and where possible an expansion, of broadly defined democracy and democratic rights. The other is the assembling of a broad, diverse, multi-class, multi-racial people’s coalition that possesses the moral authority, reach, and power to successfully prosecute such struggles. Socialism should be part of the conversation, but it isn’t an immediate strategic task or realistic possibility, given the balance of class and social forces at this moment. Every season has a purpose.