Introduction

The upswing in public attention to “socialism” continues. Although the term is still used to scare people, it is likely in the coming years that many more hearts and minds will be open to the idea. There is one basic reason for this optimism: Every day more and more people become aware of the radical disconnect between (a) the vast resources that the US government is putting into the economy and (b) the insufficient degree of control and of attention to popular needs that its policies embody.

The essays in this collection, although gathered and edited on short notice, embody long years of reflection on the underlying issues. Here we need only remind ourselves that this is still just the beginning of the real discussion –- that is, of the discussion which will attend the birth of a whole new movement, still to be defined. Although the corporate media continue to grossly distort the root cause of the current economic crisis, lavishing enormous amounts of attention on individual crooks and schemers like Bernie Madoff while letting the prevailing system of economic and political power off the hook, the total scale of the crisis is an intensely powerful indictment of the economic relationships that preserve this exploitative social order. For a new movement to gain mass force, the transparently iniquitous economic relationships responsible for the current crisis have to be properly explained, understood, and made part of our political consciousness. Toward this essential task these essays were composed.

We are fully conscious of gaps in our coverage, and we hope that some of our readers will be tempted to try to fill them. For now, we must stress that neither the editors nor the various contributors to this collection are necessarily of the same mind on any particular assertion made or perspective put forward. However, the common goal remains: to get rid of the inhumane system corrupting us all and to replace it with a fundamentally different one –- a new social order in which the structure of power is finally based on the needs and interests of the majority.

The Editors

We honor the memory of John M. Cammett, who passed away last year on July 30, 2008.

Internationally known author of the pathbreaking study “Antonio Gramsci and the Origins of Italian Communism” (1967), and dedicated socialist activist, John was also a strong supporter of the Research Group on Socialism and Democracy from its inception in 1984.

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