Edited by Sarah Leonard and Bhaskar Sunkara
Published in 2016, The Future We Want is not so much a manifesto for fundamental political and social change but a preliminary proposal. It firmly rejects the notion that politics can only be conceived as voting every few years from a slate of candidates offering similar policies. It will annoy conservatives and liberals alike, but for those seeking new solutions beyond the tired and failed prescriptions of 'politics as usual' this will be a useful and informative read.
At the core of the book is an anti-capitalist agenda that is rooted in America's socialist tradition which the ruling elite have tried to bury and have comprehensively failed to do. Today the editors of this book, Sarah Leonard and Bhaskar Sunkara are name checked by the New York Times as 'the breakout stars' of the new American left.
Sarah Leonard is a senior editor at The Nation, as well as editor of the online journal The New Inquiry and author of Occupy! Scenes From Occupied America. Bhaskar Sunkara, is the editor of Jacobin magazine. They articulate a new interest in Marxism among their generation. Leonard and Sunkara observe:
"The openness of young people to socialism may indicate two things: they are fed up with being repeatedly let down by capitalism; and people who came to political consciousness after 1989 do not have a vision of socialism heavily influenced by the Cold War."
They have curated a collection of eleven essays that offer new ways forward on such issues as gender and racial inequality, criminal justice and economic inequality. The book rejects any argument that claims socialism is akin to utopian thinking. Here are some real ways in which we can begin to imagine the end of capitalism rather than the end of the world.
Interestingly, some of the ideas discussed her have become almost 'mainstream', such as the universal benefit and the shorter working week. The call to socialise industry and the finance sector is not something that has not been discussed within Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party.
If Donald Trump has succeeded in anything, it has been to strip bare the ideological camouflage concealing the capitalist machine. America's millennials and its youth have seen the machine for what it is. They will be no longer kept quiet by empty promises of establishment politicians that promise much but deliver little. But, just as importantly, they have rejected a failed social democratic ideology that merely wants to tinker with the operation of the machine.
Leonard and Sunkara write: : "The socialism we envision, and toward which we take some first steps toward describing in this book, is one that prizes democracy, striving always for the sort of mass redistribution that makes individual human flourishing possible. Our goal is an economic democracy that produces more freedom than we could ever hope for under our current system."
We could do with some of this good stuff in New Zealand as well.