Joshua Fauver, a frequent IPR contributor, is a Louisianan political activist who was formerly a member of the Constitution and Libertarian parties. He now describes himself as an unaffiliated democratic socialist. He recently started a blog called Bayou State Socialist.
Published June 26, 2014
It’s been over 100 years since he left the earth but the ideas and teachings of Karl Marx are currently enjoying a resurgence, according to Salon. “Karl Marx is on fire right now.” writes Sean McElwee , adding “Marx has also graced the cover of the National Review earlier this month.” The Salon article went on to point out that Jacobin, a socialist publication which publishes the writings of many Marxist thinkers, was recently profiled by The New York Times. Also recently, novelist Benjamin Kunkel’s compilation of essays, “Utopia or Bust” earned him a profile in New York Magazine as well as a hit piece titled “Lena Dunham of Literature” by Breitbart. This resurgence of Karl Marx’s ideas are being felt even in places as high in profile as the United States Senate, where the Independent U.S Senator from Vermont openly calls himself a democratic socialist.
Socialism isn’t just making a comeback in the pages of magazines though, but in the real world of electoral politics as well! As mentioned earlier, U.S Senator Bernie Sanders is a self professed democratic socialist and his openness to a 2016 presidential run has drawn new interest in the teachings of Marx and Engels. But Sanders isn’t the only socialist office holder in the U.S. In November of 2013 Socialist Alternative candidate Kshama Sawant became the first socialist to be elected in the city of Seattle since 1916, and the first socialist City Councilor since 1877. Kshama Sawant’s campaign centered around the following issues: A minimum wage increase to $15 an hour, “a millionaire’s tax” (a tax on Seattle’s super wealthy) and rent control.
Sawant’s success has inspired other socialist to seek elected office. In fact, her good friend, campaign supporter. and 15 Now organizer, Jess Spear is running for the Washington State House against incumbent Frank Chopp. But Sawant’s victory isn’t only inspiring socialists in the Seattle/Washington area. Socialist activists in Chicago have recently organized the Chicago Socialist Campaign. The purpose of the Chicago Socialist Campaign is to elect socialist Jorge Mujica to Alderman. Jorge Mujica’s campaign was directly inspired by Kshama’s victory in Seattle.
The inspiration of the success in Seattle hasn’t just been limited to just electoral politics, however. The success of the Socialist Alternative and 15 Now to pass a $15 minimum wage has inspired others to to fight for a living wage. San Francisco will be putting a $15 minimum wage on the ballot. New York city council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, has recently floated the idea of raising New York City’s minimum wage to $15. And some states have acted to raise their minimum wages, though not to $15 an hour. (Massachusetts, Vermont, Maryland.) All across America activists are being inspired to fight for a minimum wage increase, for a living wage.
Taking all recent events into consideration, the future of the socialist movement in America appears to be promising. With socialist inspired movements sweeping the nation, the election of an openly socialist city council member, the viable campaign of another openly socialist city council member,(in Chicago) viable campaign of an openly socialist for the Washington State House, and the ever growing possibility of Bernie Sanders, self professed democratic socialist, running for president in 2016, who know’s what the future may hold. But it certainly seems bright! Without a doubt, Socialism is making a comeback!