The word “socialism” has disappeared from the mainstream news since Sanders lost the primary.
While it’s correct to point out that Sanders was more of an evolutionary left-populist and stopped significantly short of calling for a revolutionary working-class takeover of the economy, he was still a huge step above Clinton for public dialogue, and since he lost the primary, the discussion of socialism and income inequality in the mainstream news was dragged down to a Clinton-dominated lesser evilism and neoliberal identity politics against Donald Trump. This wasn’t positive.
Now socialist politics are barely mentioned and everything has been just anti-Trump (Russia Russia Russia!). Even in leftist circles, our imagination has been dramatically shrunken down.
Where does this implicit assumption come from? The assumptions are as follows:
“We must lower our horizons.”
“We must focus on fighting the immediate threat.”
“When we’re up against conservatism, we have to settle for liberalism.”
“We have to stop fascism before we can focus on fighting capitalism.”
“Liberalism is a necessary precursor to socialism.”
“We need Democrats in office at minimum before we can organize for something as radical as socialism or other anti-capitalist politics.”
ALL OF THE ABOVE ASSUMPTIONS ARE WRONG.
We don’t need liberalism in power to build socialist organization.
We don’t stop fascism by waiting to fight capitalism — we stop fascism by fighting capitalism here and now, immediately, by addressing the economic hardship that drives people toward fascism in the first place. And yes, even the liberal Democratic hacks at fivethirtyeight who you would think would be neoliberal identitarians blaming racism admit Trump’s victory was also about economics.
We don’t need discussion of socialism in the mainstream news to have mass positive sentiment toward socialism — memory of the recession, economic hardship, and recent memory of positive dialogue for socialism are all enough. 43% of people in the USA under 30 have a favorable opinion of socialism.
Groups like Democratic Socialists of America, Socialist Alternative, the International Socialist Organization, and Socialist Party USA have seen spurts in growth which are continuing despite the election of Trump, and will probably continue even with him in power.
Building a socialist movement is not the left wing of liberalism. We must conceive of politics as a three-way war between socialism, liberalism, and conservatism. That is the only way we will ever break out of the two-party Stockholm syndrome. If this sometimes creates awkward, contradictory situations of celebrating the downfall of Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton while our liberal friends who share our progressive values are crying, or if we sometimes find ourselves feeling ourselves having more in common with pissed off “fuck you” voters than Democratic Party loyalists, this is just life in the contradictions of the three-way war.
Don’t worry, there are plenty of times we’ll be siding with our liberal friends against the conservatives too.