TALKING SOCIALISM | Interviewing Jacobin‘s Bhaskar Sunkara

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Few have done more to broaden the popular appeal of socialism in recent years than Bhaskar Sunkara, 31. Since he founded Jacobin magazine in 2010, Sunkara—a self-described “hype man” for DSA—has worked tirelessly to build the magazine, and the movement. Jacobin now has a print circulation of about 70,000 and over 2.6 million web visitors a month. We spoke by Zoom April 15. —DON McINTOSH

I think the question most people want to know is: How do you pronounce this magazine that you founded?


There’s been some controversy about that.

Yeah, JACK-o-bin, very Americanized, not French like YAK-O-BON.

Good to know.

The only one I really don’t like is the JAKE-o-bin one, which is a common mispronunciation, I think.

Glad we cleared that up. How did you choose that name for your magazine? And why?

I had a few potential ideas, and I just decided to go with Jacobin. There’s a couple distinct parts to that name, historical references to both the French and the Haitian revolutions. But just generally, it recalls the Enlightenment spirit of a lot of the socialist tradition, and like the founders of DSA, I situate what we’re doing as socialists as fulfilling the promises of the Enlightenment that aren’t possible to fulfill under capitalism. 

There’s no more fitting visual icon than the one you’ve chosen, which I take to be Toussaint L’Ouverture, the Haitian revolutionary, right?

Well, [Jacobin creative director] Remeike Forbes actually wrote an article about it in Jacobin. The visage is definitely inspired by Toussaint. But there are other inspirations as well. It’s in Issue 6 of Jacobin.

DSA models what’s been described as big-tent socialism. It seems like Jacobin occupies a distinctive lane within that. How would you describe Jacobin’s politics within the greater socialist milieu?

Jacobin is meant to do multiple things, and primarily our mission, and what we try to do and we do best, is articulate democratic socialist politics broadly to a public not very familiar with democratic socialist stances. When Jacobin was founded 10 years ago, socialists were a much smaller minority in U.S. political life. So it was important to create an outlet that could not just interact with other members of the existing Left, but that could interact a broader public and lay out socialist responses and analyses of problems. 

So for example, we’ll put down the flag for public housing at a time that that’s extremely unpopular. Even today among the liberals who might be moving left on other issues, on housing, they’re still very much market-oriented as a whole. We defended teachers and public education at a time early on in Jacobin when that was quite unpopular, and a lot of mainstream liberalism was moving towards charters, advocating forms of education reform. We’ve been advocating for Medicare for All and for greater state involvement in health care and other other sectors, which have kind of waxed and waned in their their broader popularity. 

Jacobin is meant to be comprehensible to a wider public that might not be familiar with socialist viewpoints. A lot of what we do, of course, is to expose the injustices of capitalism, and pose that there’s some sort of alternative. Every article, I think, should work at the level of having your critique, but also something of an alternative. 

Most of our immediate battles today, just like with DSA, are for what people would describe as social democratic reforms. We believe we can bring about these reforms through class organization and class struggle. And yeah, I think that’s distinct. It’s funny, as the Left has grown, it sounds less and less novel, but obviously, Jacobin was founded 10 years ago. 

Within the Left, we do draw on a lot of people from different intellectual traditions and who have different day-to-day politics. We reach a lot of people. In print, we’re at 60,000 subscribers. So we have to be a fairly big tent. But even though we’re very flexible in our day-to-day politics, and we’re very excited by new movements that are emerging, intellectually I would say we’re fairly orthodox Marxists in our framework. Socialists come from all sorts of different intellectual traditions. You know, Marxian socialism might have been the dominant strain for the last 150 years, but there’s lots of different moral and ethical traditions and intellectual viewpoints that I think are compatible broadly with a socialist politics. We just happen to, as some might pejoratively say, cling to a Marxist tradition, a Marxist worldview, because we find that to be a useful way to understand the world. And along with that comes a special emphasis on a working-class politics. It’s the identification of an agent of change that’s still the working class, despite all the sociological shifts, despite our division on lines of race and sex and identity, and our support for our movements against oppression, but fundamentally believing in this centrality of class organization. None of this is particularly controversial on the existing Left, and certainly this is kind of a mainstream view in the Left since like 1850. But I would say that’s probably the thing that distinguishes us most from outlets like The Nation or In These Times, is that we’re much more forthrightly Marxist, even though we try to avoid the path of sectarianism and the path of not engaging in day-to-day politics. I love this line from Michael Harrington, I believe this is in Long Distance Runner. He talks about the tightrope that radicals have to walk. On the one hand, we could fall into the abyss of sectarianism and become irrelevant that way. On the other side, we could fall into the abyss of the mainstream, and just sound like everyone else and not actually put forward our radical agenda for the change the world needs. So I think Jacobin, just like DSA, just like all of our movements, has to find a way to walk that tightrope between marginality and capitulation to the status quo.

So you describe yourself and the publication as Marxist. What does that mean? You mentioned the idea of the working class as being an agent of change. Is that the key principle for you? Are there other other elements where you think, “This is what Marxism is, and this is why we’re Marxist and not something else”?

I think the key thing would just be a diagnosis, an understanding of capitalism and its emergence. I guess you would call that historical materialism. Then also an understanding about what we want after. You know, Marx wrote a critique of political economy. He didn’t really lay out a fleshed out alternative political economy. But it’s that framework that we think is very useful. 

Now, to be a socialist, that’s a moral and ethical decision. I could tell you that I will be a socialist for the rest of my life, on the basis of my moral convictions and my opposition to exploitation and oppression in all its forms. But I can’t really tell you that I’ll be a Marxist forever, because Marxism is simply a framework to understand the world and hopefully to change it, and it has to be empirically tested, right? 

So what I would say is that you have to go beyond a critique. You have to have a vision of a world after capitalism. And I think that’s something that does distinguish Jacobin and hopefully the vast majority of DSA as well, compared to social democrats who we might like and march with on a whole host of of issues. Particularly because we don’t want to just settle for doses of socialism within capitalism. We actually believe that there is an alternative, there’s a world possible AFTER capitalism. 

Then what I think Marxist inflected socialist movements have taught us over the years is to try to find a road from here to there. How do you connect the struggle for day-to-day reforms with this vision of a world after capitalism? And I think there’s always been groups on the Left that have said the only thing that matters is the break, the rupture with capitalism, and there’s the group on the Left that says, “Why do we even bother calling ourselves socialists? This is alienating. We’re gonna turn people off. And how relevant is it? Bernie would have been better off if he didn’t call himself a socialist.” But I think we believe that we need to have a vision of a world after capitalism, because that informs the method of how we fight for reforms in the day-to-day. And also we need to fight for these reforms in the day-to-day because otherwise, our critique of the present would just be moralistic critique.

You grew up in a small town, the youngest of five kids. Your parents are immigrants from Trinidad and Tobago. What were you like growing up? What would people who knew you say you were like? And how did you find your passion for politics and socialism at such a young age?

I definitely considered myself a liberal in the American sense, in the best sense of being for a welfare state. I was reading people like Paul Krugman at a very young age, like 12, 13. And then the Iraq War was a very important moment, I think, especially for a lot of brown people in America: 9/11, the war on terror, the Iraq War, really just heightened a sense of opposition to the status quo, opposition to U.S. empire, opposition to the way politics were drifting. So foreign policy was very important. But I did discover a kind of social-democratic common sense through defense of the welfare state and through a belief in the power of public goods. And then I read the works of Leon Trotsky. I read Irving Howe. I read Michael Harrington. It was a very isolated, intellectual trajectory, but a core political awakening.  I think I probably discovered DSA very randomly, just as a result of being familiar with Harrington. I think I went to my first DSA thing when I was 17. And I met soon after David Duhalde, who many people in DSA know, and I met Maria [Svart] and Chris Maisano, and Lucas Shapiro. I met a whole host of people in New York City DSA, the summer between my senior year of high school and going to college. And that was the start of my involvement in DSA. I did some work with YDS at the time when I was in college, but primarily my DSA work then was revamping The Activist blog, where a lot of early contributors to Jacobin cohered. DSA obviously was very formative. So it’s kind of like I can’t really imagine what I was like before DSA because I’m 31 and it’s been 14 years since I joined DSA.

I saw you referred to once as “former vice chair of DSA.” I was unfamiliar with such a title. Can you tell me about your time as vice chair and what that meant? 

The vice chair was mostly a ceremonial letterhead position. I actually advocated its abolition just because in general, I feel like what we need is working positions in DSA. Some of the older people who were letterhead DSA honorary chairs and vice chairs were fantastic, and I think assets to the organization; others were potential liabilities. I think the easiest way to deal with this situation was just to have a position where our elected leadership was foregrounded. I do think at some point, DSA needs a national spokesperson to be elected, the way we had Harrington, whether that be Maria or a prominent politician or organizer in the future. But yeah, it was not a very serious position, though I do feel like myself and a lot of people put a lot of effort and energy into DSA for many years when the returns were not very fruitful. And I think probably to some degree, Jacobin reading groups played a role in DSA’s growth from 2014 to 2017 or so. But lately, we [in DSA] are developing a lot of energy and a force of our own. And we’re extremely successful, especially our electoral efforts, but many of our other efforts have been hugely successful. My view is that we should be very positive about what we’ve accomplished. And we should say, “THIS is the organization.” There IS no other mass democratic organization on the U.S. left. 

DSA is not rooted enough in the working class compared to what we want it to be. But it’s way better than it was in the past. And this is the base. If you want to build something different or better, you have to build it from this base. Everyone should be a member of DSA, and everyone should be proud of being a DSA member. So I’m all for more positivity about DSA and what we’ve accomplished, without shying away from where we’re falling short.

Speaking of, how about some straight talk? What do you see as DSA’s strengths today, and what do you think is holding DSA back?

Well, I think DSA’s primary strength is the fact that it is an organization with 100,000 members. It’s one of the largest socialist organizations in U.S. history. I think our ideological pluralism is a big advantage. I think the fact that we’ve avoided extreme factionalization is very important. So in other words, it’s a stable left wing organization. It’s not about to split into a million pieces. And for anyone who knows anything about the history of the left, that’s a real accomplishment. And I think it has a lot to do with our tradition of democratic socialism, which implies both a respect for democracy and respect for pluralism in both society as a whole, and in our organization too. So I think that’s a huge advantage. And we just have a lot of people who have figured out ways to interact and work with each other at every level, the chapter level and the national level  and whatever else. 

And I think it really does help that we’re developing a very finely tuned machine to run different candidates at the local level, with I think the right mix of coordination between the different levels of DSA that allows a lot of autonomy for chapters. But fundamentally, whatever processes we have used have yielded very good candidates as a whole, and competitive candidates, and we’re winning. So I think that’s where we’re making a breakthrough on the electoral front. 

I think lately with our work through advocacy of the PRO Act, we’re developing deeper ties with organized labor, which is very important as well. 

Where we’re weak is, you know, we are still an organization that is not rooted deeply in the working class, because the U.S. Left as a whole hasn’t been deeply implanted in the working class for many decades. Obviously, we have tons of working class people involved in DSA, but we still skew too middle class, too college educated, as a result of the Left’s historic isolation. So we need to figure out a way as we grow to be the type of organization that someone can just plug into, show up at a meeting, not feel like they don’t understand all the languages or whatever else and just go for it, and feel like they could be a part of something. And it’s easier said than done, in part because it’s not just the Left that’s detached from working class life in America. Much of our working-class civil society has been hollowed out. People don’t have the same connection they used to, to the trade union, to the local civic association, even to like church attendance and whatnot. DSA is a fairly large experiment in American civil society that’s truly democratic. And there’s not actually a lot of that. Even if we look at a lot of the organizations that we work with, our friends and organizations like Justice Democrats and others—they’re not mass democratic membership organizations like we are. 

But I think we at the very least need to be honest about the fact that DSA is not deeply implanted enough in working class life in the U.S., but do it in a way that isn’t disheartening. It’s just to say we aren’t there yet. We need to set it as a horizon, as a goal. Because we don’t want to be in a position where we’re just a large subculture that doesn’t really know how weak we are because we are making successes on the margins. Like we just have to constantly know how big the U.S. is and how powerful the Right is.

I remember a New York Times article about the last DSA convention, and there was this New York member who was prompted about how big DSA had grown—50,000—and he said, “What? Why aren’t we a million?” The polls are such that this is possible. You’re 31, so you’re part of a generation that’s dramatically different politically from previous generations as captured by repeated public opinion polls. I’ll never forget in 2011 that poll that Pew did in which half of American millennials said they preferred socialism to capitalism. Why do you think that is?

Well, I think for a lot of people, they’re just seeing that capitalism is not offering the prospects that it used to at least pretend to offer. People are seeing a future of climate change, of precarious employment, of continued inaction on racial and other inequalities. And they’re just fed up and looking for alternatives. And they’re seeing that status quo politics, centrist politics, is what got us Trump in the first place. So I think there’s a lot of discontent, there’s a lot of anger, there’s a lot of people looking for solutions. And I think it is credit to a lot of people in our generation, that the solution that they’re finding to social malaise and discontent is something progressive and to the left, about pushing forward for universal human emancipation, rather than narrowly through the lens of nation or race or whatever else. You know, we tend to think of the Left as always the standard bearer of youth politicization. That’s just not true. I mean, a lot of the fascist parties of pre-war Europe, like the Italian fascist movement, were very young. Italy today, there’s a lot of support for the Five Star Movement and for forms of right-wing populism among the young. So I don’t think we should take for granted the fact that a lot of people in this generation in the U.S. are open to new ideas, and are fundamentally looking for change. I think a lot of people in general, not just young people, are right now receptive to a message that says, “It’s not your fault.” I think we’ve been told for decades that it’s your fault: You shouldn’t have got that degree, you should have did some skills training, you should have not splurged on that mortgage. I think now, people are very sympathetic to the idea that these are social problems, and social problems demand social solutions, which means politics.

I want to switch a little bit and talk about business. Is there a tension for you of having socialist values on the one hand and on the other hand being an employer? Does Jacobin exploit its writers? Are you profiting off the surplus value of the employees? I hear this sometimes on Twitter. I find it kind of annoying, but I wonder what your thoughts are.

Well, first of all, I’m an employee of a board myself, and we have an egalitarian wage scale. And we have unionized staff. Our goal, our primary motivation, is obviously expansion—to reach more people with our material. You know, I and everyone at Jacobin are getting paid a lot less than we otherwise could be, but we make sure we’re paid a living wage, and that we have good health benefits. And same thing with our scale for writers. It might be low end of market rates, but it’s within the range of other other publications, and we have a much smaller overall budget. Fundamentally, right now, we’re a publication that is heavily reliant on our subscribers. So as we grow, you know, hopefully we’ll have more resources for more things. We’re trying to do more journalism, but in general, that work is pretty hard. Investigative work especially is pretty hard to fund from market means. Often you rely on external funding and donations and whatnot. So that’s where we need to catch up. 

But yeah, I don’t really see a tension any more than there’s a tension with the fact that DSA has to balance its books, and has to get membership dues, has to figure out what to pay staffers. Obviously, at some level, there’s always going to be tensions, they’re always going to be different interests at every level. But fundamentally, if you’re mission oriented, and if you have mechanisms like a staff union, you can represent the different interests and come to something. Our main goal is expansion. I think that’s probably the only thing we have in common with a capitalist firm. But our reasons for expansion are different. It’s to maximize reach, not to maximize revenue. If our goal was revenue maximization, we would definitely be able to generate more revenue, but the goal is to generate views for our socialist propaganda.

I think you’ve been singularly successful in a number of regards, including raising funds for all of your projects. I look at Jacobin, and it’s really distinctive. I’ve been around the Left for decades, and I’m used to fly-by-night, raggedy-looking kinds of enterprises. Jacobin is well designed, it’s a beautiful publication, looks expensively produced. Do you have any advice for others? Do you think socialists need to get over some kind of a phobia or cultural discomfort that they have with raising and deploying money for the movement? 

No, I think that fundamentally, the thing that distinguished Jacobin from the beginning is through the efforts of [creative director] Remeike Forbes: Our site and our current issues look very, very good. And that’s credit to Remeike and our design team. And also, Jacobin is very heavily edited, especially our print editions, but even online, there’s multiple rounds of edits, helping a lot of non-professional writers have their ideas come across clearly. And I think what’s rooted in that is just a sense of pride in the craft, like taking seriously the fact that it’s not just our ideas that matter, it’s our execution of those ideas, it’s how we communicate those ideas. I want someone to see Jacobin on a news stand next to The Economist and not immediately take it less seriously. Because if they take it less seriously at the level of aesthetics, or the level of design, they might take the ideas less seriously. But we take our politics and ideas very seriously. And I think we should take, therefore, presentation seriously. There’s no such thing, in other words, as left-wing or right-wing aesthetics. I mean, not in terms of symbols that are tied to historical things, but in terms of competence at graphic design, there’s just good or there’s bad graphic design, in the same way that there isn’t such a thing as left-wing or right-wing accounting, there’s just numbers that add up or numbers that don’t add up. And, you know, that’s something I take very, very seriously—figuring out how with limited resources to be to be competent and to be serious. And to use whatever talents and resources we can assemble to cover stories that other people aren’t going to cover. You know, there’s a lot of things that we cover that are particularly important to the socialist movement, important to our tradition, that are certainly not the best thing to cover from a market standpoint. But I think we owe a debt to socialists who came before us. We’re not the first socialists ever. We’re not the first people trying to build a better world. And I think there’s a lot of experience in past generations that we should take advantage of. 

That’s one thing I loved about DSA when I joined DSA all those years ago was being able to talk with veterans of past struggles and get their advice and their experience, their comradeship. You know, I was a broke high school and college student, so also like some free lunches definitely helped too. I think not enough of the Left tries to find that history and that tradition. As socialists in the U.S., we have such a great legacy.  There’s a lot of history that we should be proud of. We’ve been on the right side of history. I want to keep trying to push the legitimacy of American socialism as a idea and practice—today, but also our legacy in this country.

You have so many projects underway. You’re publisher of Jacobin, but also Catalyst the theoretical journal, also the UK publication the Tribune. You’ve got your own book [The Socialist Manifesto: The Case for Radical Politics in an Era of Extreme Inequality]—is that coming out in paperback soon? You’ve got over a dozen books published so far in partnership with Verso Books, and the Jacobin family of podcasts. What’s your next project?

My book is out in paperback now. Lately, we’ve been trying to do more audiovisual work. We’ve been developing a Jacobin YouTube channel. We just launched it last year, with the help of my late friend Michael Brooks. He helped us get started on the channel, and since he passed away, we’re trying our best to carry on without him. But we have around 75,000 subscribers or so on the channel now, which is not a bad start for a year. YouTube, a lot of it has been dominated by the Right, but there’s a host of progressive commentators trying to use the venue too. We are trying to carve out a socialist space there. It’s important because there’s a lot of people who might not be reached the way you or I might be by a 2,000-word essay, but definitely might by power of persuasion and words. And I think it’s a great thing to teach people to be communicators in that way. That’s a sign of a healthy movement. So hopefully, we’re doing that. 

Personally, I’m writing two books right now. I’m almost done one, which is a history of the Grenadian revolution. That was kind of a COVID project that I’m working on with a few people, including Brian Meeks, a professor at University of West Indies, I guess now he’s at Brown University. 

And I’m also working with a couple collaborators, Mike Beggs and Ben Burgis, on a big book about the economics of a feasible socialism. We’re building off some of these debates in the ’90s and before about planning versus markets. Not to say we’re being centrist, but we’re taking from both sides, and we’re hopefully laying out a tentative blueprint for an alternative. It’s not because I believe fully in “writing recipes for the cook shops of the future,” as Marx derisively put it, but because I think for a lot of people today, they want to believe in socialism, they want to believe that there is an alternative, but they have doubts about its technical feasibility. So let’s start the conversation, start the debate. Let’s start talking about alternatives to capitalism, because I actually think it might fuel our work. There was a confidence the Left had for a lot of the 20th century, and a lot of the late 19th century, that we lost. We thought we were inheritors of history. And I think we need to rebuild that confidence—with full awareness of how things can go wrong, of course—but rebuild some of that confidence today. Because we can’t just be the people saying “no” to actually existing capitalism. We need to say “no, and here’s an alternative.”

I want to ask about the international question. A lot of our thinking politically, and our awareness, is limited to national communities, particularly in the United States, and our movements tend to operate in isolation. But you now have this sprawling socialist conglomerate that straddles the Atlantic. How is the UK publication Tribune doing? Are there lessons for American socialists in the UK experience? Should we be organizing exchanges, setting up socialist summer camps in Appalachia and the Midlands?

Jacobin has a very large network of contributors from many different countries, and a lot of these people have started franchises in their native languages. So we have a Jacobin franchise in Germany and one in Brazil, one in Argentina and in Italy. And then obviously the partnership with Tribune in the UK. We operate within our national context because that’s where we can effect change and organize at a practical level. But we’re internationalists, so we are concerned with struggles for liberation in other countries as well. 

And there’s a lot to learn in the UK experience about what happens when you lose, what happens when right wing and centrist forces within your party or within society are organizing and you’re on the back foot. Right now I think a lot of the Left in the UK is on the back foot. [Whereas in the U.S.] despite the losses of the Sanders campaign, many of us on the Left still feel like we are able to push forward and shape the agenda affirmatively. But we have to be ready for setbacks. And we have to keep recruiting for Democratic Socialists of America even when we’re in a period of defeat. It’s easy to recruit now when we’re winning elections and we’re making a national impact, and we have popular figures like AOC and Rashida and Bernie associated with democratic socialism. But what are we going to do in the long run? 

This is the Michael Harrington line—about being long distance runners, and not sprinters, for socialism. I think fundamentally though, in the U.S., it’s not that we’re behind Europe because of their level of class organization, which has historically been far greater than our level. If anything I think we’re ahead of them: a lot of their existing class organizations are disintegrating. And now in many ways in some of these countries, it’s almost as if they’re starting from scratch just like we started from scratch several years ago. 

I would say the big evolution in my thinking is I used to believe that electoral politics comes last, that first you organize the class and civil society and you build, and you’re patient, and then one of the manifestations of your success is electoral success. But now I think that electoral politics is a jumping off point. It’s like we had this corpse, or this almost-corpse, of democratic socialism, and we got some shock paddles to revive it. And now we’re figuring out how to get healthy and start building. So I would say probably the biggest difference in my thinking now from when I started Jacobin is: I’m much more pro- electoral politics. And it’s not because I’ve become an “electoralist” in the sense that I think we can fix everything just through running campaigns and elections, that we don’t need to organize in the streets. But it’s because I feel like this is the avenue for success. And I think a lot of these efforts like Podemos in Spain are also attempts to use electoral avenues to revive struggles for change. And we should keep a close on which ones are succeeding and which ones aren’t, and the lessons to be drawn from that.

Like Bernie Sanders, you’re a big fan of the New York Knicks, and this year you launched a new Jacobin sports podcast. Do you see sports as an arena for socialist commentary? Should DSA be organizing softball leagues and sponsoring kids’ basketball teams? And how should big-time sports be organized in our glorious democratic socialist future?

Well, I’ll just say: I think sports are great just because they’re great. They’re great the way art is great. In other words, I think of course socialists should be in touch with all aspects of culture. Just like it makes sense for us—if we were ever a mass force somewhere—to sponsor the arts, of course we should sponsor sports. But in a way I’m agnostic on whether they have particular political potential or not. I just think they’re great the way art is great. I appreciate it at a somewhat apolitical level, the same way I appreciate art. And some art, some people like it and other people don’t like it. I’m not a huge fan of the theater. Some people love it. Some people aren’t a huge fan of sports; other people love it. But I think sometimes it attracts a weird political valence where people are like, “this sport is more left wing, and this sport is more right wing.” It’s human culture, and human culture is complex. 

In the case of the Jacobin sports podcast, we had a couple very talented podcasters who just really like sports and really like Jacobin and wanted to create a podcast, so we produce it. It’s as simple as that. But obviously a lot of the athletes right now are from this generation that has been recently politicized, and is I think quite progressive on a lot of issues of social change. And I think that’s coming across in a lot of things you’re seeing in sports. When I think about the NBA that I grew up with, I think about [the late NBA commissioner] David Stern, I think about all these racist and reactionary cultural tropes. When I think of the NBA today I think of a lot of people who care and are trying to figure out how to give back, to contribute to social change. And yes, they’re millionaire athletes, so sometimes it’s going to be awkward when they attempt to do it. And there are some that don’t succeed, or approach it in a different way than maybe an ordinary working class person would, but it’s definitely better than the alternative. 

And this goes back to my overall optimism. If you compare us to 100 years ago, we’re far weaker today as a Left.

But we’ve made tremendous progress compared to 10, 15 years ago. We need to consolidate our gains. We need to keep building DSA. We need to keep building our media outlets. Because this wasn’t pre-ordained. This was something very difficult to build. And this is why institutions do matter. If we didn’t create that vehicle in the ‘80s. If we didn’t have people like Joseph Schwartz and others helping sustain it in the ‘90s and 2000s, then where would we be today?

Let’s finish with a rapid-fire round of one or two word answers. Favorite book? 

Unfortunately it’s not a political book, I guess that’s fine. Do you want a non-fiction book or a fiction book?

Any book will do.

I would say the Eric Hobsbawm four-book series, and probably The Age of Extremes: The Short 20th Century.

How about the fiction then? 

The fiction? He’s a right-winger, unfortunately, but V.S. Naipaul: A House for Mr. Biswas.

Loved it. Favorite TV show? 

I’m going to give you the most basic answer in the world.

It’s okay. The stakes are low.

It’s Seinfeld, still.

Nice. Most admired historical figure?

Like Karl Marx when he answered the same question: Spartacus.

The slave revolt leader?


Recommended movie?

I recommend socialists watch the film A Grin Without A Cat. It’s a Chris Marker documentary.

I’ll check it out, thanks. This last one should be easy: organization that you most recommend people join? 

Well, obvious Socialist Alternative …


DSA. People should join DSA.